11/28/2015 6:42PM

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.