Updated on 05/03/2013 3:23PM

Churchill Downs: So Many Ways returns to winner's circle in Eight Belles

Tom Keyser
So Many Ways (left) rallies in the middle of the track to take the Eight Belles under Garrett Gomez.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - So Many Ways returned to a sprint and returned to peak form in Friday's Grade 3, $177,170 Eight Belles on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

A tired fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks in her last start March 30, So Many Ways was positioned in midpack early and fanned widest for the stretch run before using a powerful closing kick Friday to surge clear in the final 100 yards, edging Fusaichiswonderful by a half-length. She raced seven furlongs in 1:22.84 over a track that produced fast times and paid $17.40 to win.

“She’s a little bit of a filly, but she’s got a big heart,” said Garrett Gomez, who rode So Many Ways, a 3-year-old daughter of Sightseeing owned by Maggi Moss and trained for the first time in the Eight Belles by Tom Amoss.

In taking the Eight Belles, So Many Ways ran back to the promise she displayed as a juvenile, when she was perfect in three starts, capped by a win in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga on Sept. 2.

Sidelined for the rest of 2012, she returned this year by running a distant third behind Fusaichiswonderful in the Primal Force Stakes at Gulfstream March 1 before her fifth-place finish behind Unlimited Budget in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Transferred to Amoss thereafter by Moss after previously being trained by Tony Dutrow, So Many Ways recorded three sharp works over the Churchill Downs strip in preparation for the Eight Belles.

“I just picked up where Tony Dutrow left off,” Amoss said. “Dutrow did a great job. He told me what to do today, and it made all the difference.”

Fusaichiswonderful turned in a game effort in defeat, rallying from just off the pace set by longshot Chortle, who set splits of 22.84 seconds and 45.18, but in the end she didn’t have quite the late punch of So Many Ways.

Fusaichiswonderful finished a half-length ahead of third-place finisher Irish Lute. The previously unbeaten Calistoga, the 2-1 favorite, was another half-length back.

Calistoga, surprisingly 10th after a quarter-mile after displaying speed in her two prior races, made a threatening move on the turn and in early stretch, only to flatten out late.