05/06/2016 3:22PM

Carina Mia misses break, but not winner's circle

Justin N. Lane
Carina Mia wins the Grade 2 Eight Belles under Julien Leparoux, despite breaking slowly.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It wasn’t the original plan to run Carina Mia in the Eight Belles Stakes. Nor was it the plan to break last in the race. But it was the plan to end up in the winner’s circle Friday at Churchill Downs, and that part of the plan came to fruition.

Despite a slow start, Carina Mia proved too much for her seven rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 Eight Belles, galloping to a six-length victory under Julien Leparoux in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

Blip n’ Th Bye, who was part of the early pace, stayed on for second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Nickname, who was third. Put Da Blame On Me, Summer Reading, Jade Princess, Stageplay, and Marquee Miss completed the order of finish.

The win was the third from five starts for Carina Mia, a daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Bill Mott.

Carina Mia won the Grade 2 Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles here last fall, and ever since then the goal was to return to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks.

But Carina Mia got sick and missed the Davona Dale at Gulfstream in February. Mott had hoped to run her in the Honeybee at Oaklawn Park in March, but he couldn’t ship her due to a quarantine placed on the Payson Park training center where she was based.

Carina Mia returned in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland last month, but her fourth-place finish didn’t help her gain enough points to make it into the field for Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks, which drew an overflow field of 15.

“This wasn’t the original plan, but it was certainly our back-up,” Mott said.

Carina Mia looked like a standout in the Eight Belles and she also looked like she would be part of the pace. But Carina Mia broke slowly and was away last in the eight-horse field.

Carina Mia advanced between horses and was sixth early in the race, but only two lengths behind a three-play speed duel among Marquee Miss, Summer Reading, and Blip n’ Th Bye, who went a quarter in 22.68 seconds.

Carina Mia launched a four-wide bid approaching the quarter pole, and once in the clear she took over inside the three-sixteenths pole and came home a comfortable winner.

Carina Mia covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.74 and returned $3.20.

“She broke slow, actually," Leparoux said. "First time that happened. After that she was relaxed and came running at the end. She showed a new style, but it worked out good.”

Mott said he felt Carina Mia, with a clean break, had as much speed as anybody in the field and would be on or near the lead.

“She just maybe hesitated, but you can’t hesitate very long or you get four or five out-breaking you,” Mott said.

“She got a good education out of it today. She was in between and behind and he had to actually steady a little bit heading into the turn. But when he tipped her out, she’s got a gear now.”

Mott said Carina Mia would likely be pointed to the Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn at Belmont on June 11.