LOUISVILLE — Tom McCarthy's one-man show is back to its former glory.
General Quarters, the lone horse owned and trained by McCarthy, earned his first victory in more than a year when he outfought Court Vision down the stretch to win by a neck in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
The Turf Classic was one of five graded stakes races on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
General Quarters put McCarthy — a retired principal — in the spotlight last April when he won the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby. The gray horse had not won in six starts since, including running 10th in the Derby.
In his first try over grass, General Quarters surged up between horses entering the stretch and hooked up with multiple Grade I winner Court Vision. General Quarters prevailed in a determined drive under strong urging from jockey Rafael Bejarano, edging Court Vision at the line to win the 11⁄8-mile race in 1:53.42 over a yielding turf.
Loup Breton was up for third.
Mona de Momma pulls upset in Humana Distaff
Champion sprinter and defending race winner Informed Decision suffered her second straight loss on Saturday when she was beaten by Mona de Momma in the Grade I Humana Distaff over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
Informed Decision won the Humana Distaff last season during a 6-for-7 campaign, but finished third in the Grade I Vinery Madison at Keeneland during her 5-year-old debut on April 10.
Informed Decision had to settle for the same position Saturday as Mona de Momma bested runner-up Pretty Prolific by three-quarters of a length.
Mona de Momma was making her first start over a dirt surface and earned her first Grade I win in 11 career starts. Trained by John Sadler, Mona de Momma covered 7 furlongs in 1:22.73.
Atta Boy Roy gets it done
Calvin Borel sent Atta Boy Roy to the lead and stayed there for the 7-furlong journey to win the Grade II Churchill Downs by half a length over Warrior's Reward.
The 5-year-old got the advantage out of post position nine and ran the first half-mile in :44.73.
As he came off the final turn, Atta Boy Roy shook clear of the field and held off a late rally from Warrior's Reward to notch his first graded stakes win with a time of 1:22.54. Musket Man, last year's third-place finisher in the Derby, was third.
Buckleupbuttercup runs off with Eight Belles
Buckleupbuttercup made her first stakes effort a successful one when she surged up three-wide in the stretch and drew off under jockey Julien Leparoux to win the Grade III Eight Belles Stakes by 61/4 lengths.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Buckleupbuttercup took advantage of swift fractions as Decelerator and Hot Dixie Chick pressed each other through a quarter in :23 flat and a half-mile in :45.37 over a sloppy track.
Around the final turn, Buckleupbuttercup picked up her run and overtook the early leaders. The gray filly won in 1:29.49.
Visavis got up for second with Grade I winner Hot Dixie Chick, the 3-5 favorite, third.
Phola scores in Turf Mile
Graded stakes winner Phola mounted a determined rally down the middle of the track to overtake Hot Cha Cha and take the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile by 11/4 lengths.
On March 13, Phola earned her first graded stakes victory when she won the Grade III Hillsborough Stakes over the turf at Tampa Bay Downs — and she duplicated that form on Saturday.
After Cure for Sale carved out a half-mile in :49.67, Grade I winner Hot Cha Cha advanced between horses and took a 2-length advantage in the lane. Before she could cement her sixth career victory, Phola appeared on the far outside under jockey Ramon Dominguez and kicked on to cover the 1-mile distance in 1:38.35 on a yielding turf.
Hot Cha Cha held for second with Miss Keller third.