09/21/2013 4:37PM

Churchill Downs: Sky Girl takes Dogwood in debut for new connections

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Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Sky Girl wins the Dogwood after coming through along the rail under jockey Corey Lanerie.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sky Girl came through for new connections and for the many horseplayers who backed her down to odds-on favoritism when posting a hard-earned, 1 1/2-length victory Saturday in a scratch-laden 38th running of the Grade 3, $110,000 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Corey Lanerie, Sky Girl came through a rail opening before finally getting the best of Irish Lute to prevail in the seven-furlong race. Elusive Fate was another neck back in a field of six 3-year-old fillies.

Sky Girl, purchased privately last month by New York City businessman John Clay under his Alpha Delta Stables banner, returned $3.80 with her third victory in as many starts over the Churchill main track. It was the 88th stakes victory at Churchill for its all-time leader in that category, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

“For a minute there I didn’t think we were going to get there,” said Lanerie, who had ridden the Sky Mesa filly in all four of her prior starts for her former owner, the Jay Em Ess Stable. “But she dug in and went on with it. What a nice filly.”

Sky Girl, a Kentucky-bred by Sky Mesa, finished in 1:23.73 over a fast track. She was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks on July 20 and is now 3 for 5 overall.

Sky Girl became such a heavy favorite partly because three horses were early scratches, including the morning-line favorite, So Many Ways.

The $2 exacta (1-5) paid $11.60; the $1 trifecta (1-5-8) returned $24.60; and the 10-cent superfecta (1-5-8-7) was worth $10.81.