06/18/2016 11:15PM

Auntie Joy finds her sweet spot in Regret

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Coady Photography
Brian Hernandez collects his third win on the card aboard Auntie Joy in the Grade 3 Regret.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Auntie Joy got a glimpse of a champion in her last two outings, as she finished fifth to Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse in the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes in April at Keeneland, and then second, beaten just three-quarters of a length, to that same filly in the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes last month at Churchill Downs.

But Saturday night, given a bit more distance, Auntie Joy set her sights on the finish line under the twin spires and finally got  her own picture taken, winning the Grade 3, $100,000 Regret Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths.

"She's been very good,” said a beaming trainer Brendan Walsh after planting a kiss on Auntie Joy’s nose in the winner’s circle. "This was going to be the obvious spot for her. The mile and an eighth was going to hit her right between the eyes."

Walsh, who called Catch a Glimpse “a superstar,” gave credit to his staff for developing Auntie Joy, who has now won 3 of 6 starts for owner-breeder Sanford Robertson.

"She was a little tricky mentally,” Walsh said. “It's a great credit to the people who work with me - some great horsemen. Everything has gradually fallen into place."

Auntie Joy ($8.20), second choice in the wagering, broke from the outside post in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies under Brian Hernandez, Jr. The team quickly assumed command, leading by a comfortable length through fractions of 24.02 seconds, 49.48, and 1:14. The outcome was never seriously in doubt, as Auntie Joy maintained sway around the far turn and, with the closers revving up, kicked clear with encouragement in upper stretch to continue on to the finish. Her final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:49.24.

Noble Beauty rallied to edge favored Try Your Luck by a neck for second.

Hernandez was aboard Auntie Joy when she won her career debut last November at Churchill Downs. After Julien Leparoux rode Auntie Joy, a  daughter of Uncle Mo, in two outings over the winter at Gulfstream Park, Hernandez has now been aboard for her last three races.

"She's a bigger, stronger filly,” said Hernandez, who won three races on the night and recorded two other graded stakes placings. “She's getting better with each race. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more out of her.”

Walsh said the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks on July 9 in New York is a potential target for Auntie Joy. She would likely meet Catch a Glimpse, whose win streak now stands at seven, there.