There are some horses in a trainer's barn that are easy keepers, ones that almost train themselves with their easygoing demeanors.
Her Emmynency isn't one of those horses. The 3-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal has made life challenging for her connections at multiple turns.
Hence, it was fitting that both the final moments and immediate aftermath of her first Grade I victory were filled with drama and — ultimately — joyful relief.
One year after nearly losing her life to a bout of colitis, Her Emmynency had her connections rushing to her side again after she held off Miss Temple City by a head, and then survived a claim of foul by that filly's owners to win the Grade I, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup going 11⁄8 miles over the Keeneland turf Saturday.
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To say it has been a long road back for Her Emmynency doesn't do justice to what she had endured in her seven career starts. After being felled by colitis while prepping for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last October, she was sidelined for about eight months before trainer Michael Stidham got her back to the races in an allowance test this June.
She can also be prone to the occasional fit — such as the one she threw that kept her from getting on the plane for a planned start in the Grade II Sands Point Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 12.
What was never in question was her talent and high cruising speed, the latter of which carried her past pacesetter Mizz Money on the final turn after sitting a stalking trip in second. She then turned back Miss Temple City when that one came at her in the final sixteenth.
"Without a doubt. She's been a lot of work but well worth it," Stidham said. "We had to scratch her from the Sands Point and it may have worked in our favor because she ran such a big race in the Del Mar Oaks (second on Aug. 15) that a little extra time may have been a benefit to her.
"Then in the paddock today she saw something, some light glaring off a beer truck over by the paddock and starts throwing another tantrum. So she's a little quirky."
Miss Temple City did have to steady near the three-sixteenths pole under jockey Drayden Van Dyke but it was her ownership group of Sagamore Farm, Allen Rosenblum and The Club Racing that lodged the objection — much to the surprise of Her Emmynency's rider, Florent Geroux, and not to the convincing of the stewards.
"I don't know what happened, I couldn't really speak to the stewards because I had no idea what was going on," said Geroux, who earned his third Grade I win of 2015. "Drayden was fine with it when he pulled up next to me, so that's why I wasn't worried. (My filly) was very brave all the way to the end."
Being on or near the front end has been Her Emmynency's game as she came within three-quarters of a length of winning the Grade I Del Mar Oaks and was a neck away from taking the Grade I Del Mar Debutante last August.
She rewarded those who backed her Saturday at odds of 19-to-1 as she sat just off Mizz Money through fractions of 23.40 and 47.30 down the backside with race favorite Sentiero Italia settled midpack in the nine-horse field.
When Her Emmynency motored clear in the lane, Geroux felt he had enough in reserve to get him to the wire, which they hit in 1:48.84 over a course rated firm to earn her fourth career win.
"I was afraid to look (at the finish)," said Ike Thrash, who owns Her Emmynency along with his wife, Dawn. "It took a long time to get her here, so we'll probably wait a couple months (for a next start).
"It's been a tough trip for her. We thought she was going to die for a while. I was just hoping she'd get back to where she was and she has."