05/03/2014 1:18PM

Coffee Clique rallies on rail for win in Distaff Turf Mile

Tom Keyser
Coffee Clique rallied from the rail Saturday to win the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Coffee Clique likes to keep things interesting with a recent penchant for tight finishes. The filly, who won her last outing by a head, skimmed up the rail to best Dame Marie by a half-length in the Grade 2, $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Saturday on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

Coffee Clique ($13.80), who typically runs in the first flight, settled back in third early, saving ground around the course as a very keen I’m Already Sexy bounced away to take the field through the early splits. The leader began to weaken leaving the far turn with Dame Marie ranging up on the outside. The latter filly struck the front and appeared headed for a big upset – seeking to land the graded stakes victory, which would have been her first, after two allowance races in which she was entered in the past month came off the turf.

However, Coffee Clique was rallying well and snuck up the rail to duel it out for the final sixteenth, just getting her nose down on the wire to deny Dame Marie. The final time for the mile was 1:34.66 on a course rated firm.

“Fantastic ride,” trainer Brian Lynch said of Castellano’s performance. “He got her to settle early. He made a nice decision going into the first turn to take back a little bit, and doing that, she sort of relaxed down the backside. He said she was very aggressive when she got down on the inside. He was very happy with the way she finished.”

After the top two came Effie Trinket in third. Grade 1 winner Centre Court, sent away as the favorite, failed to ever threaten and was unplaced.
Coffee Clique scored her second career graded stakes victory after she won the Grade 3 Selene Stakes on the synthetic surface at Woodbine last year. In her first start of 2014, she just lasted to win an allowance event by a head March 26 at Gulfstream Park.

“She’s coming out of a nice race down there in Florida,” Lynch said. “We’ve always felt she’s a stakes filly. She had a lovely comeback race in her first start of the year, and fortunately, we got it done [today].”

Lynch didn’t name a specific target for Coffee Clique’s next start, but said the filly was a candidate for the turf program at Woodbine, with a start at this summer’s Saratoga Race Course meet also a possibility.