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Sky Girl gets first stakes win

DOGWOOD STAKES | PURSE: $100,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 7 FURLONGS

Alpha Delta Stables' Sky Girl was much the best as she took down her first stakes in Saturday's Grade 3, $110,000 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs as the 4-5 favorite and returned $3.80 to her backers for the win.

"We had thought the rail was a little bit dead, and our game plan was to come off the rail if the field spread out a little bit," assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy said. "But [jockey] Corey [Lanerie] said when they turned for home that opening [on the rail] was there and he couldn't avoid it and had to take it. But I thought she showed a lot of heart to come up the inside and push past the five [Irish Lute] and she won pretty nicely."

The Bill Mott charge got off to a slow start, but sat within striking distance of the leaders, Irish Lute and Guadalupe High, as they battled it out up front through opening fractions of :23 and :46 ⅕. Sky Girl started to move up three wide on the far turn as Irish Lute continued to lead the field, while Guadalupe High slowly started to fade. The eventual winner was boxed in entering the stretch, found a seam down on the rail and surged to the lead inside the final furlong to prevail by 1 ½ lengths. The three-year-old filly covered seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:23 ⅗.

"I was actually hoping to be laying third," Lanerie said. "They weren't going very fast after they out-broke me; they covered me up. I was content with sittin' and she was traveling so nice up to the quarter pole. I was hoping to come around -- I thought the rail was a little bit dead -- but it was getting late in the race and [inside] looked like my only option. I didn't want to wait too long. When I swung down there she bogged down on me a little bit and for one minute I thought I maybe wasn't going to get there. When she got in there she kind of loafed on me a little bit -- she was like, 'I got 'em, don't worry.' What a nice horse."

Irish Lute held on for second by a neck over third-place finisher Elusive Fate. Don't Tell Veda, Finding More and Guadalupe High rounded out the order of finish. Fusaichiswonderful, 5-2 morning-line favorite So Many Ways and Thetaloveandmine were scratched from the race.

"She ran terrific," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Irish Lute. "She was in command of the race the whole time and she just got beat by a nice filly."

Sky Girl was a fast-closing third in her racing debut back in April over Keeneland's Polytrack. She made her Churchill bow on May 3, breaking her maiden by 4 ½ lengths. The dark bay captured an optional claimer over a sloppy Churchill track in June and was exiting a third-place finish in her stakes bow in the Arlington Park Oaks on July 20. With Saturday's score, Sky Girl banked $67,518 to boost her bankroll to $150,853 from a 5-3-0-2 line.

Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, the daughter of Sky Mesa is out of the Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 scorer Bevo. Vargas Girl is also a half-sister to Grade 3 victress Moonlight Sonata, who produced Grade 2 victors Wilburn and Beethoven.

Sky Girl's third dam is multiple stakes queen Family Way, and her female family also boasts Grade 1 winner Twixt.

Sky Girl sold as a weanling for $52,000 at the Keeneland November sale and then sold again as a yearling for $150,000 at the Keeneland September sale.