The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen

PIPPIN WINNER: Jockey Channing Hill celebrates aboard Farrell after winning the Pippin Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen PIPPIN WINNER: Jockey Channing Hill celebrates aboard Farrell after winning the Pippin Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Catalano filly blossoms in Oaklawn debut

By Bob Wisener
This article was published January 14, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

Farrell didn't need a race over the track to be at her best in her Oaklawn Park debut.

Launching a 4-year-old season of high promise, the Malibu Moon filly left behind three Oaklawn stakes winners from 2017 in the $125,000 Pippin. Terra Promessa, the defending champion, backed up after an early speed duel while Farrell held off Ever So Clever (Grade 3 Fantasy) and Streamline (Grade 2 Azeri) in the stretch.

With Channing Hill riding for father-in-law Wayne Catalano, Farrell scored only the second front-running victory in the first two days of the meeting. A strong second choice in the betting to four-time Oaklawn stakes winner Terra Promessa, Farrell finished three quarters of a length ahead of Ever So Clever with Streamline almost three lengths farther back in third. Paying $6.20 to her backers, Farrell rewarded owners Robert Cummings and Annette Bacola's Coffeepot Stables with $75,000, boosting her career earnings past $600,000.

Catalano, whose young fillies often excel, explained that the Pippin is a means to an end for Farrell and not an end in itself. Oaklawn's $700,000 Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap April 13 is the major objective for Farrell, a multiple Grade 2 winner and 7-for -11 lifetime.

"We're trying to win a Grade 1 (stake) with her," said Catalano. "That's why we're running her here today. The Apple Blossom -- a Grade 1 -- that's what we're here for."

In her first start winning Churchill Downs' Grade 2 Chilukki Nov. 4, Farrell "stepped up today," Catalano said. "This was a solid field."

Rival trainers were hoping that Farrell and Terra Promessa, side by side in the starting gate, would cook each other through hot early fractions.

"We had a good scenario up front," said Streamline trainer Brian Williamson. "The two (Farrell) took care of the three (Terra Promessa) and kept going."

The winning jockey said he had everything his own way.

"Just handicapping the race, I was kind of hoping we would draw outside Terra Promesssa, just to kind of make it a little simpler," Hill said. "But the filly broke sharp today and put me on the pace. ... That other filly (Ever So Credit), give her a lot of credit. She came charging at us and my filly kind of showed her class and just kind of stretched her legs out."

Farrell carried co-high weight of 122 pounds through a mile and sixteenth in 1:45.41. The track, previously listed as "good," was upgraded to "fast" for the first time this season after Race 4 Saturday.

Terra Promessa also is the defending champion in the $150,000 Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes Feb. 17. Then come the Grade 2 $350,000 Azeri March 17 and the Apple Blossom, in which Streamline placed second in 2016 and Terra Promessa second last year. All are at the Pippin distance of a mile and sixteenth.

The Pippin winner in 2016 as an unheralded 4-year-old, Streamline impressed her trainer Saturday in her first start since placing third in the Grade 1 La Troienne May 5 at Churchill Downs.

"She ran great. She may have hung there in the stretch, but she was coming off a layoff," said Williamson. "This will get her ready for the next one."

Saturday at the park: Hall of Famers Gary Stevens and Wayne Lukas collaborated for two victories with 3-year-olds owned by two of trainer Lukas' major clients.

In a prolonged drive, Bravazo ($7.20) wore down Ezmosh in Race 5, an entry-level allowance, the winning mile time of 1:37.74 sending a ripple through the announced crowd of 15,500. That was quicker than the mile split in the Pippin (1:38.56) and almost two full seconds faster than 3-year-old maiden winner Higher Power (1:39.62) later on the card.

After taking the $150,000 Fifth Season with longshot 4-year-old Sonneteer, Calumet Farm scored its second victory of the meeting with Bravazo, an Awesome Again colt who in October was runner-up in Keeneland's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at 47-1 odds.

Ezmosh, the 2-1 favorite, stamped himself as one to watch, finishing nine lengths ahead of third-place Dream Baby Dream. Brad Cox trains the Tizway colt, a second-out Churchill Downs maiden winner, for Zayat Stable.

Stevens and Lukas scored their second victory with the maiden Transgress ($6.40) in Race 9, the winner's six furlongs in 1:10.70. Robert Baker and William Mack own the Into Mischief colt, headed in the stretch but fighting back on the rail to nip the Steve Asmussen-trained Mitole.

  • Lone Rock, cross-entered by trainer Bill VanMeter in Monday's $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, placed fourth in Race 7 behind Higher Power ($11.80). Hot Springs lumberman John Ed Anthony owns Lone Rock, a third-out Indiana Grand maiden winner by Majestic Warrior.

Sports on 01/14/2018

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