11/28/2015 5:42PM

Carina Mia makes statement with huge Golden Rod victory

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Carina Mia took the spotlight for herself this time, turning back the favored Stageplay for an emphatic 4 1/4-length score in the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

After finishing second to Stageplay, a subsequent stakes winner, in the debut for both Oct. 10 at Keeneland, Carina Mia ($6.20) stamped herself as a hot prospect in her own right by taking the next outing by 8 3/4 lengths Oct. 29 at Keeneland. With her victory in her stakes debut, the Bill Mott trainee earned 10 points toward a berth in next spring's Kentucky Oaks.

Carina Mia, trying two turns for the first time, got a smart ride from jockey Julien Leparoux, beginning when he used the filly, who broke a bit slowly from post 8 in the nine-horse field, to clear the pack and secure the early lead while saving ground.

"She actually kind of didn't break as good as she usually does," said Leparoux.

Leparoux then successfully asked Carina Mia to relax under a long hold, getting the opening half in 49.07 seconds on the sloppy track. Stageplay, who had tracked in second throughout, began to turn up the heat around the far turn, and the pair was separated from the field through six furlongs in 1:14.13.

When they set down for the drive, they engaged furiously, with Stageplay drawing within a half-length in deep stretch. Carina Mia battled back and decisively edged clear to her final margin, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.42.

"She was relaxed on the lead," said Leparoux. "I started to ask her [on the turn] to get her going a little bit. In the stretch, she kicked on nice."

After Stageplay, it was 1 1/2 lengths back to Dream Dance in third, followed by Dothraki Queen.

slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I do question whether CM really liked this "off" track surface - yes, she broke sideways a little bit but she showed her athleticism in recovering to break with the field, and I think Lep made the right move in being patient (instead of being quarter-horsed to the front out of fear of being caught wide) - it showed his confidence in the filly. Going to the front was the only thing that made sense, tactically, and he did it at the right time after settling for the early wide position. Most people thought she'd fire to the front, easily, so the early position was definitely eye-opening and my first thought was that she was not handling the track. If you came into the race late an saw her leading down the backstreth you'd have never imagined the early trouble. That early trouble should have been exactly what Stageplay's backers wanted to see. Instead, she was soundly rebuffed.
Christopher Clark More than 1 year ago
What statement, that she's still ten lengths behind Songbird? If the Songbird stay's sound and progresses next year, their all running for second in the oaks
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I would not sleep on this filly. That was her first route, and she's bred to go long, with hlaf sister a graded stakes winner at 9 furlongs, and graded stakes placed at 10. I thought she was a total stand-out going in (earlier published thoughts) - she went 1:08 and change at KEE, and it's how she finished (how she looked) that put the exclamation point on that performance. I was deeply surprised by her non-favortism on Saturday. Stageplay appeared under pressure late in her victory coming in. Because of track condition, the time is irrelevant in judging this performance, it's really important to see how strong Carina Mia appeared down the lane. She switched to and stayed on her correct lead in the stretch (she might have switched late in final strides, probably a little tiredness creeping in). The final time suggests the track was generally tiring, especially in routes. Not surprising to see an established fit Turfer take the Golden Rod on this surface. I would guess that Carina Mia achieved a Beyer of 90+ (on a track where getting a number is highly subjective, underlning the importance of getting the visual analysis right, because the number may not be indicative due to tiring track conditions). Obviously, she has to continue to move forward with racing experience, but I view her as a potential Rachel Alexandra, who's the best 3yo dirt-route filly I have ever seen in 28 years.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I was wrong, she never got off her correct lead. A very powerful performance, the only thing I saw, and it was not excessive an she soon corrected, she came out slightly when being asked to pull away, but that's nit-picking on a very strong performance. It likely had more to do with the surface being "off" and not getting a full hold, because it happened right when the rider asked for acceleration, and she responded on cue by spurting away demonstrating her ability to give more when asked. Not all equine racers who appear to win "in-hand" and "as they pleased" can automatically run faster when they are either under pressure to do so or are asked by the rider. Carina Mia showed she does have more to give when asked and as far as Class, she exudes it.