Derby undercard: Sassy Image rallies past Humana field

Jockey Ramon A. Dominguez patted Get Stormy on the way to the winner's circle after the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
Jockey Ramon A. Dominguez patted Get Stormy on the way to the winner's circle after the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

LOUISVILLE — Dale Romans jokes that one benefit of training for his brother Jerry is he doesn't worry much about getting fired.

In Saturday's Grade I Humana Distaff, Sassy Image did her part to further enhance her trainer's job security.

Sassy Image put her three-race losing skid to an end when she picked off her rivals with a four-wide rally in the lane to win the seven-furlong Humana Distaff by a widening three lengths over 3-to-5 favorite Hilda's Passion.

After opening her year with a 4½ -length score in the Sweetest Chant Stakes, Sassy Image was off the board in two of her last three starts, including a seventh-place finish in the Grade III Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19.

The betting public may have dismissed her at odds of 16-1, but the 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow was nothing short of impressive when she began her outside rally from fifth in the seven-horse field.

"She loves it here, she just loves this surface," Dale Romans said. "The race was quick enough up front and set up just right for us."

Sassy Image, with Robby Albarado up, covered the distance in 1:21.01. Hilda's Passion faded to second after clocking the opening half in :44.68 and was three-quarters of a length clear of Amen Hallelujah in third.

Woodford ReserveTurf Classic

It took Get Stormy 20 career outings before he could claim Grade I glory. The wait for the second taste of it would not be nearly so long.

The flashy bay son of Stormy Atlantic collected his second straight win against top company, leading every point of call to take the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by three-quarters of a length.

Owned and bred by Mary Sullivan, Get Stormy was sent off at 7-to-1 odds despite winning the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland last time out on April 15.

The 11⁄8-mile Turf Classic was a near replay of that effort with the 5-year-old getting an easy opening half in :50.67 and turning back all comers in the lane to cross the wire in 1:50.81.

Smart Bid ran on to get second ahead of Doubles Partner in third. The race was marred when graded stakes winner Battle of Hastings was pulled up around the first turn by jockey Joel Rosario.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Royal Applause was vanned off with what appeared to be a lower right front leg injury. The injury was stabilized with a splint and he was taken back to the barn of trainer Greg Fox for further evaluation.

Churchill Downs

Aikenite's 4-year-old season is turning out to be his best yet. Dogwood Stables' son of Yes It's True collected his second consecutive graded stakes victory when he emerged between horses in deep stretch and prevailed in a three-horse blanket finish in the Grade II Churchill Downs over the main track.

Prior to this year, Aikenite had only three career wins in maiden and allowance company. A cut back to sprint distances has worked wonders for the dark bay colt, however, as he also won the Grade II Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on April 16.

In the seven-furlong Churchill Downs, jockey John Velazquez settled Aikenite back in eighth as Captain Cherokee ran the opening half in :45. Aikenite angled out six wide leaving the final turn and closed outside of runner-up Apriority to nip that one by a nose with Ibboyee just a half-length back in third.

Final time for the race was 1:21.40.

Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

In just her second start in North America, Juddmonte Farms' Aviate collected her first graded stakes score on this side of the ocean, rallying on the extreme outside for a 1½ -length victory in the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

Aviate made her first seven career starts in Europe before making her U.S. debut for trainer Bill Mott with a third-place run in the Grade III Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park on March 5.

The 4-year-old daughter of Dansili earned her first win since taking the Group III Musidora Stakes at York last May when she came from well back and overtook pacesetter Kiss Mine with a six-wide bid en route to stopping the teletimer in 1:36.67 over a course rated firm.

Aruna got up for second with the 5-year-old Fantasia in third.

Twin Spires Turf

Vinery Stables Regally Ready reeled in Bridgetown in deep stretch to capture the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint by 1¼ lengths.

Regally Ready came into the 5-furlong test with three straight wins to his credit, including a narrow triumph in the Grade III San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita on April 16.

Such strong form was evident again from the More Than Ready gelding as he rated off the leaders through fractions of :21.89 and :44.89 before angling out under jockey Corey Nakatani and drawing off to stop the teletimer in :56.57.

Bridgetown held for second with favored Chamberlain Bridge coming up for third.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader