06/22/2013 9:33PM

Churchill Downs: Fiftyshadesofgold much the best in Debutante


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fittingly on a Western-themed nighttime Saturday card at Churchill Downs, one even including jockeys riding a mechanical bull between races, it was a Texas-bred filly, Fiftyshadesofgold, who proved an eight-length winner of the $113,400 Debutante for 2-year-old fillies.

Her victory resulted in the first time the famous Scharbauer family blue-and-white silks reappeared in a winner’s circle at Churchill Downs after a stakes race since Alysheba won the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner, was owned by the Scharbauer family, while Fiftyshadesofgold is owned solely by Clarence Scharbauer.

If Fiftyshadesofgold is able to replicate her Debutante performance in starts to come, Scharbauer could have another star in his barn.

She was that dominant in victory, dueling for the lead with hot splits of 21.37 seconds and 45.14 in the six-furlong race, and the drawing away from co-early leader More Then Beauty.

Her eight-length win equaled the second largest margin of victory in 113 runnings of the Debutante, and followed a 10-length blowout maiden score by the filly at Lone Star Park on May 24.

More Than Beauty held second by five lengths, with Del Mar Holiday outfinishing Silver Valley by a nose for the show.

Although Scharbauer has raced sparingly at Churchill Downs since Alysheba’s racing days, running homebreds mostly in his home state of Texas, winning trainer Bret Calhoun, also a Texas native, said the achievement of winning another stakes race for Scharbauer at Churchill was rewarding.

“It was great to get a win for him,” he said. “She’s a very nice filly.”

The winner, a gray filly by My Golden Song bred by the owner, ran six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.63. She paid $4.60 as the favorite after betting action poured in on her in the last minute of wagering, surpassing Teardrop as the public choice.

Teardrop weakened to seventh at 8-5 odds after being briefly steadied on the turn after chasing the pace.

The victory from Fiftyshadesofgold also gave an emotional lift to jockey Corey Lanerie, who suffered a sudden loss in his family after an uncle, Steve Estilette, died unexpectedly Friday in Louisville while visiting Lanerie from out of town. Despite the shock of his passing, Lanerie had no reservations of riding Saturday.

“My uncle Steve would have kicked me in the butt if I wouldn’t have ridden,” he said, before adding, “I dedicated tonight to him.”