By Blood-Horse Staff
Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider's homebred Sign overcame a sluggish start and powered home to win the $168,150 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) by four lengths on opening day of Churchill Downs' fall meet Oct. 28.
The bay daughter of Pulpit went a one-turn mile in in 1:38.63 under Rosie Napravnik for trainer Al Stall Jr., registering her second consecutive victory off an 11 3/4-length maiden special weight win at Saratoga Race Course. She is out of the Mighty mare Cross.
"She's really impressive," Napravnik remarked. "She's handled everything really well. She was much the best today and I had a good trip. She did break a little bit slow, but that was fine. I let her settle and she came with a big run."
Sign trailed the field of eight 2-year-old fillies through the first furlong while Gal About Town, breaking from the outside stall, led through a quarter in :23.31. La Song took over and crossed the half-mile pole in front in :47.32. Sign settled down the backstretch, worked her way between rivals on the turn for home, angled to an inside opening with an eighth of a mile to run, and made a bold move to the lead at the sixteenth pole before drawing off under Napravnik's steady urging.
"We wanted her to be back, you never know when they're last, but we wanted her back and to get a good finish," Stall said. "I could see her fighting the dirt a bit on backstretch. She overcame a few things and ran a great race."
The winner returned $3.80, $2.80 and $2.40 as the 4-5 favorite. Gal About Town was second and paid $4 and $3.20. Cloudy Vow was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and returned $6.60. Cloudy in Sandiego, Seasoned Warrior, Danalake, Brotherhood Singer, and La Song completed the order of finish.
The victory was worth $101,125 and increased Sign's earnings to $149,125 in her two starts. It also was worth 10 points on the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" point system; the Pocahontas is one of 35 races on the new "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" and one of 20 races in which points will be awarded to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale in "Kentucky Oaks Prep Season" races.
With the victory, Sign is ranked sixth (earnings in non-restricted stakes races serve as a tie-breaker) behind Executiveprivilege, Spring in the Air, Dreaming of Julia, Spring Venture and Certify. The top 14 point-earners nominated to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at the series' end will earn a spot in the Oaks starting gate on Friday, May 3.
Stall said Sign will resurface in the Nov. 4 Golden Rod (gr. II) at Churchill, which is also a "Kentucky Oaks Prep Season" race.
For Claiborne Farm of Paris, Ky., it was its 30th stakes win at Churchill Downs, the first of which dates back to 1956.
For an Equibase chart, click here.