Finley’sluckycharm earned a well-deserved first Grade I victory with a gritty score in the Madison S. at Keeneland Saturday. Quickest away from the stalls in post 12, the dark bay was overtaken by Grade I winner American Gal (Concord Point) and pressed that rival from second through swift early splits of :21.96 and :44.31. Drawing even with the pacesetter on the backstretch run, she traded blows with that rival down the lane and was joined by Miss Sunset (Into Mischief) and Lewis Bay (Bernardini) to the outside in the final sixteenth. Finley’sluckycharm called upon all of her class in the final strides to gut out a narrow victory over those foes. Miss Sunset was second with Lewis Bay in third and American Gal fourth.

“Unbelievable,” winning trainer Bret Calhoun said. “This was a great one for us. She’s been very deserving of a Grade I [win], and we’re so happy to get it here at Keeneland.”

“She’s a naturally fast filly,” winning rider Brian Hernandez, Jr., said. “Her last couple of races, she didn’t get away very smoothly, so today that was our game plan to get her away from there running. She’s one of the special fillies–the faster she goes, she just kind of runs horses off their feet and that’s what she did today. She dug in today. She was never going to let that eight horse [Miss Sunset] by her.”

Runner-up in the 2016 GI La Brea S., Finley’sluckycharm kicked off last term with a trio of wins at Churchill Downs in the Roxelana S., GIII Winning Colors S. and GIII Chicago H. Just missing behind Eclipse finalist and dual Grade I winner Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper) in Saratoga’s GII Honorable Miss H. in July, the $77,000 KEESEP buy returned to winning ways in the GII Thoroughbred Charities of America S. here in October, but could only manage ninth in the GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint at Del Mar Nov. 4. The 5-year-old kicked off this term with a runner-up effort in the Mardi Gras S. in her first try on turf at the Fair Grounds Feb. 13.

Pedigree Notes:

Finley’sluckycharm is from the first crop of Twirling Candy and is his first Grade I winner. She is one of just three graded winners for the Lane’s End stallion–with the others being Danzing Candy and Morticia–and is now his highest earner. Her MSP dam Day of Victory has a 3-year-old filly named Golden Orb (Orb), who summoned $320,000 at Barretts March; a yearling filly by Violence; and a Twirling Candy colt born Mar. 13 of this year. The winner hails from the family of MGISW Pure Clan (Pure Prize), GISW Sky Diva (Sky Mesa) and MGSW Greater Good (Intidab).

SOURCE: TDN 4/7/18

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