11/21/2012 5:32PM

Churchill Downs: Applauding has to work in comeback to remain undefeated

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Applauding, the record-setting filly whose 3-year-old debut was delayed by illness, made a successful comeback Wednesday at Churchill Downs when remaining undefeated in three career starts with a hard-fought, 1 1/4-length victory in a second-level allowance at six furlongs.

Making her first start in nearly a year, Applauding glided away to the early lead but never really shook clear, with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. having to resort to a hard drive to keep her safe as the 1-2 favorite.

“I’ll be honest, when we got to the top of the lane I was getting worried,” said Rocco. “But after I got after her real hard, she went on.”

Applauding returned $3 after finishing in 1:10.84 over a fast track.

Applauding, a Florida-bred chestnut by Congrats, is owned by Ramona Bass and trained by Al Stall Jr., who watched from his winter base of New Orleans, where the filly will soon head.

Applauding set the Polytrack record for 6 1/2 furlongs in October 2011 when making her career debut at Keeneland. After winning a first-level allowance at Fair Grounds in December, she became ill and was sidelined for much of this year before being pronounced ready to return.