LOUISVILLE — Blind Luck returned to the scene of her victory in last year's Kentucky Oaks, overcame a stumbling start and collared Unrivaled Belle in the final 50 yards to win the 26th running of the $333,900 La Troienne by a half-length Friday on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs.
Blind Luck, ridden by Garrett Gomez, turned the tables on Unrivaled Belle, who had beaten her in November in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic over this track. Blind Luck covered the 11⁄16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.93 to win the race for older fillies and mares.
"We had trouble in the beginning," said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. "She overcame it, and I am very proud of her. We never lost confidence in her" after four straight runner-up finishes.
Absinthe Minded led the field through moderate fractions as Blind Luck raced at the tail of the field after nearly going to her knees at the start of the race.
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Unrivaled Belle, under jockey Kent Desormeaux, came four wide on the turn to move into contention and then moved six wide down the stretch, taking the lead at the sixteenth pole.
Blind Luck also moved six wide in the stretch and ran down Unrivaled Belle.
Unrivaled Belle, who lost for the first time in three races at Churchill Downs, upset reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the same race last year.
Blind Luck, the 7-5 favorite, paid $4.80 to win. All Due Respect finished third, 3 lengths behind the winner.
First Dude rallies
First Dude caught Regal Ransom in the final jump to win the eighth running of the $358,500 Alysheba Stakes by a nose.
First Dude, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, ran the 11⁄16-mile Grade III race for 3-year-olds and up in 1:42.56.
Wise Dan led the field of nine through early fractions of :23.56, :47.49 and 1:11.95, with Regal Ransom in pursuit. At the head of the stretch, Regal Ransom, ridden by Alan Garcia, surged past Wise Dan and gained a narrow advantage over a host of challengers.
First Dude, who was fifth in the run down the backside and racing in the clear, moved five wide at the head of the stretch and eventually wore down Regal Ransom in the final yards.
First Dude returned $9.20 to win.
Banned exploded from far off the pace to win the 20th running of the $237,400, Grade III American Turf Stakes by 41/2 lengths over Close Ally.
Trained by Tom Proctor and ridden by Garrett Gomez, Banned was making his return to Churchill Downs after running fifth in last fall's Grade II Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Victoria's Wildcat triumphs
Victoria's Wildcat, in her stakes debut, ran down dueling leaders Home Sweet Aspen and Honey Chile in the final 100 yards to win the 56th running of the $118,800, Grade III Eight Belles for 3-year-old fillies by 2¼ lengths.
Diva Ash prevails
Zayat Stables' Diva Ash took the lead going into the first turn and never trailed again to win the 26th running of the $113,800 Edgewood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1½ lengths over Sassy's Dream.
It was the second Edgewood victory for jockey Kent Desormeaux and the first for Louisville-born trainer Dale Romans.