06/11/2011 5:00PM

Churchill: My Baby Baby goes out in style in Mint Julep

Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
My Baby Baby (9) takes control in the stretch to score a neck victory in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – My Baby Baby ended her highly productive 30-race career in successful fashion Saturday, holding off a late surge by Ravi’s Song and giving jockey Manny Cruz his fifth winner of the afternoon in the 35th running of the Grade 3, $113,900 Mint Julep Handicap on the Churchill Downs turf.

My Baby Baby prevailed by a neck in a frantic conclusion to the Mint Julep, a 1 1/16-mile turf fixture. She is in foal to Curlin and almost certainly ran her last race.

“We love this mare, so it’s great to see her go out like this,” said Ken McPeek, who trains My Baby Baby for Magdalena Racing.

My Baby Baby, a 6-year-old mare by Bernstein, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.40 over a firm turf course and returned $17.20 to win as fourth choice in a field of 10 fillies and mares.

My Baby Baby raced several lengths off the pace for much of the way before making her move after turning for home. Tapitsfly held on gamely while racing closest to the hedge, but My Baby Baby and Snow Top Mountain, the 2-1 favorite, were gaining steadily. In the final yards, My Baby Baby forged ahead, with Ravi’s Song, a 13-1 shot, coming too late with her run.

Tapitsfly held for third, a nose behind Ravi’s Song and another length before Snow Top Mountain. Check the Label, the 2-1 second choice, finished ninth.

My Baby Baby earned $67,088, bringing her career record to 7-8-6 from 30 starts for total earnings of $493,739.

The win was the third straight in a Grade 3 race at Churchill for McPeek, who swept the Dogwood with Salty Strike and the Aristides with Noble’s Promise the previous Saturday.

Cruz, a 41-year-old Brazilian who is new to Churchill after nearly a decade as a south Florida mainstay, enjoyed his best afternoon yet here when capping a five-win day aboard My Baby Baby.

Two earlier turf races were transferred to the main track because of heavy overnight rain.