LOUISVILLE — Champion Will Take Charge looked nothing like his usual self during Friday's Grade II Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. Moonshine Mullin, meanwhile, found some back class and added a new dimension to it.
Moonshine Mullin, who was claimed by trainer Randy Morse for $40,000 last Nov. 30, picked up his first graded stakes victory in his 31st career start when he upset the a field of eight including the reigning champion 3-year-old male in the 11⁄16 miles Alysheba.
The 6-year-old Moonshine Mullin had shown class as a 3-year-old, running second in the 2011 edition of the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes. However, since 2012 Moonshine Mullin has primarily raced against allowance company but had won three straight races heading into his front-running victory in the Alysheba.
"He's been a good horse in the past, he's just finding it back now," said Morse, who claimed Moonshine Mullin for owner Randy Patterson. "The only thing we changed is we started letting him run. He has a high cruising speed."
While Moonshine Mullin took the field through fractions of :23.84 and :47.81 under pressure from Appealing Tale, Will Take Charge was stuck down inside and never threatened, finishing sixth.
Prior to Friday's effort, the son of Unbridled's Song had not been worse than second in his last eight starts.
"He got into the first turn OK but I wasn't happy down inside, he wasn't happy down inside," jockey Gary Stevens said of Will Take Charge. "He just never got into that big beautiful rhythm we're used to seeing."
After briefly being headed in the stretch, Moonshine Mullin hit the wire a half-length in front of Grade I winner Golden Ticket and covered the distance in 1:42.83.
On Fire Baby prevails in La Troienne
Anita Cauley's homebred mare On Fire Baby earned her first victory since last April and second career Grade I score when she overtook pacesetter Devil's Cave in the lane and kicked clear for a 23/4-length win in the Grade I La Troienne Stakes.
The 5-year-old had dropped five straight races since taking the Grade I Apple Blossom last April 12. Her fall in form later last year was attributed to the fact she had been battling ulcers.
After prompting the fraction through a half-mile in :47.51, On Fire Baby delivered on her 8-5 favoritism when she took command under jockey Joe Johnson en route to covering the 11⁄16 miles in 1:43.48.
"In my mind she's always going to win," trainer Gary Hartlage said. "I've always thought she was one of the top horses in the country."
Fiftyshadesofgold game in Eight Belles
Bret Calhoun trainee Fiftyshadesofgold picked up her first graded stakes win when she fought past Milam to her outside to win the Grade III Eight Belles Stakes by half a length.
Fiftyshadesofgold entered the 7-furlong test off a runner-up finish behind Untapable in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26. Fiftyshadesofgold settled in third under jockey Mike Smith en route to taking command in upper stretch to cover the distance in 1:22.50.
Champion She's a Tiger was seventh in her first start since being disqualified from first to second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last November.
Marchman wins Turf Sprint
Marchman, winner of the Grade III Shakertown at Keeneland on April 12, got another heady ride from jockey Robby Albarado when he accelerated in the lane to win the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint by 11/2 lengths over Undrafted.
Marchman showed he was just as effective rating as he has been on the lead, sitting just behind Sum of the Parts through an opening quarter in :22.08 before spurting away from that one and having too much for the late-charging Undrafted.
Marchman covered the 5 furlongs in :56.04 over a course rated firm.
Champion Wise Dan in Turf Classic
Morton Fink's two-time reigning horse of the year Wise Dan will seek to become the second two-time winner of the Grade I, $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Saturday when he faces nine foes in the 29th running of the 11⁄8-mile race.
Trained by Charlie LoPresti, Wise Dan opened his 2014 with a victory in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 11. The gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry will break from the rail in the field of 10.