In another zip code at the top of the stretch, Juddmonte homebred Obligatory (Curlin) turned in a furious stretch rally to record a career high in Saturday's GI Derby City Distaff S. at Churchill Downs.
Favored Just One Time (Not This Time), a last out winner of Keeneland's GI Madison S., showed the way through fractions of :22.36 and :44.95 and hit the quarter pole as the one to catch. Obligatory, meanwhile, last of seven throughout, tipped out six wide beneath Jose Ortiz for the stretch run. Longshot Four Graces (Majesticperfection) took over from the pacesetter in deep stretch, but couldn't withstand the streaking gray, who came rolling over the top to get up by 3/4 of a length. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Just One Time in third.
“The only thing I reminded Jose [Ortiz] about beforehand was something he knew: her stretch run is her weapon,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. “The goal with a filly like this is to get her a Grade I. She loves Churchill; for whatever reason she just really does well at this track. She's won a Grade II and a Grade III here, so we pointed for this race to get her her Grade I. Glad she got it.”
A 16-1 upset winner from out of the clouds in the GII Eight Belles S. on the GI Kentucky Oaks undercard last year, Obligatory's sophomore campaign also included second-place finishes in the GI Acorn S. June 5 and GI Cotillion S. Sept. 25. She entered the Derby City Distaff riding a two-race winning streak, capturing the GIII Chilukki S. in her season finale beneath the Twin Spires Nov. 20 and the GIII Hurricane Bertie S. at Gulfstream Mar. 12. She is now three-for-three at Churchill Downs.
“She's a very nice mare,” Ortiz said. “I feel like she's getting better and better. I just waited and let her get into her own rhythm. They were going very fast on the front end. I was sitting at the back of the pack. I didn't want to sweep her off her feet to get a good finish. I was very happy with the trip I had. I swung a little wide because I felt like I had enough [horse].”
Obligatory becomes the 18th Grade I winner for Hill 'n' Dale's leading sire Curlin. He has sired 47 graded winners. Macho Uno is the broodmare sire of six graded winners, including GI Kentucky Derby starter Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile). This is his first Grade I winner in North America. Obligatory is a third-generation Juddmonte homebred. Juddmonte bought her unraced third dam, Nijinsky Star, for $700,000 at the 1987 Keeneland November sale. Among the three stakes winners Nijinsky Star produced were Juddmonte's Viviana (Nureyev), who produced seven-time GISW Sightseek (Distant View) and dual GISW Tates Creek (Rahy). Another daughter was the conduit for Juddmonte's recent MGSW & MGISP Bonny South (Munnings) and Obligatory's dam is a half sister to French G1SW Etoile Montante (Miswaki). Obligatory's fourth dam is Hall of Famer Chris Evert (Swoon's Son), whose descendants include champion Chief's Crown (Danzig). The extended family is positively bursting with stakes performers, including recent G1 Saudi Cup runner-up Country Grammer (Tonalist). Uno Duo has a 2-year-old colt by Juddmonte's late Arrogate named Treble Clef and a yearling filly by Into Mischief. She was bred to Speightstown for this season.
Saturday, Churchill Downs
DERBY CITY DISTAFF S. PRESENTED BY KENDALL-JACKSON WINERY-GI, $750,000, Churchill Downs, 5-7, 4yo/up, f/m, 7f, 1:22.17, ft.
1–OBLIGATORY, 123, f, 4, by Curlin
1st Dam: Uno Duo (SW, $171,300), by Macho Uno
2nd Dam: Willstar, by Nureyev
3rd Dam: Nijinsky Star, by Nijinsky II
1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Jose L. Ortiz. $455,700. Lifetime Record: 11-5-2-0, $1,228,594. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Four Graces, 123, m, 5, by Majesticperfection
1st Dam: Ivory Empress (GSP, $189,402), by Seeking the Gold
2nd Dam: Madame Pandit, by Wild Again
3rd Dam: Tuesday Evening, by Nodouble
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O/B-Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes. $147,000.
3–Just One Time, 123, f, 4, by Not This Time
1st Dam: Ida Clark, by Speightstown
2nd Dam: Eliza Donner, by Oh Say
3rd Dam: Witch Wabbit, by Salem
O-Warriors Reward, LLC and Commonwealth New Era Racing; B-Warrior's Reward LLC (PA); T-Brad H. Cox. $73,500.
Margins: 3/4, 2HF, NK. Odds: 3.80, 16.20, 1.50.
Also Ran: Bell's the One, Kimari, Edgeway, Center Aisle. Scratched: Lady Rocket.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.