09/14/2013 4:40PM

Churchill Downs: Vuitton makes final move in Open Mind

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Well readied off a 3 1/2-month layoff by trainer Steve Asmussen and his staff, Vuitton swooped to victory in Saturday’s $108,100 Open Mind at Churchill Downs, catching Sweet Cassiopeia in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Under patient handling from jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Vuitton was last of six early, as favored Burban and Ms Ann Destiny set a contested pace of 21.78 and 45.09 seconds in the six-furlong race.

Coming into the lane, it was clear the taxing early battle was taking a toll on the two dueling leaders, but it seemed that Sweet Cassiopeia was the one poised to take advantage. Third in a perfect stalking position, the latter seized command and opened up a two-length advantage with a furlong remaining.

Then Vuitton came on the scene, and proved best. Vuitton steadily cut into Sweet Cassiopeia’s lead, caught her and pulled clear for a length victory.

“When I saw the first quarter of a mile I thought we had a good shot,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi. “There was plenty of pace up front, and she likes to be on the outside, and Ricardo’s had a lot of success on her. And he was smart enough to get her to the outside and she did the rest after that.”

Vuitton, a 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike owned by Gillian Campbell, Ralph and Shelly Stayer, and Andrew Pajak, raced six furlongs in 1:10.07. She paid $17.60 as the fourth choice in the field of sixth.

Previously this year she had won the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park but had not raced since finishing third in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs May 27.

Following Sweet Cassiopeia was Ms Anna Destiny in third. Burban, Second Street City and Devious Intent completed the order of finish.