FLORENCE — Two weeks ago, Hot Cha Cha looked like a filly who was ready for a more stringent test.
Faced with her biggest challenge yet on Saturday, the daughter of Cactus Ridge turned in her most effortless performance to date.
In her first try against graded stakes company, Nelson McMakin's homebred Hot Cha Cha circled the field and drove past the leaders in the stretch to capture the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks for 3-year-old fillies by six lengths at Turfway Park.
After taking a short lead at the head of the lane, Hot Cha Cha drew off to cover the one-mile distance in 1:37.22.
The dark bay filly has made all five of her career starts at Turfway and was coming off a win in a one-mile allowance race on March 7.
"She ran so well last time out that I told Mr. McMakin that we should take a chance here," trainer Philip Sims said. "Her last race was her first time around two turns and she loved it.
"The (Kentucky Oaks) is just too soon but I think we'll keep her on the Polytrack and see how it goes."
Fitz Just Right and Instrumentalist, who took turns setting the early fractions, held for second and third, respectively.
The $100,000 Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds produced another first-time stakes winner as Cliffy's Future came from dead last to win by 21/2 widening lengths over Ziegfeld.
The dark bay colt, who ran a sluggish eighth last time out in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14, was making his first start for owners Silverton Hill after a private purchase.
The $50,000 Hansel Stakes saw Turfiste score by a length over the fast-closing King Puma. Just for Keeps went wire-to-wire to take the $50,000 Queen Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Proud Heiress.