08/10/2013 5:17PM

Ellis Park: Devious Intent wins Gardenia; Groupie Doll third at 1-5


HENDERSON, Ky. – Devious Intent posted her first career stakes victory Saturday in the 32nd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Gardenia Stakes, although the far bigger story was about the champion who failed to get her seventh stakes score.

Groupie Doll was the 1-5 favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares in the Gardenia, the annual signature race at Ellis Park, but could do no better than third in her first start in 8 1/2 months.

“That’s racing, isn’t it?” said her trainer, Buff Bradley. “Sure we’re disappointed, but I’m still glad we came here. This should set us up for bigger things down the road.”

Devious Intent, ridden by Roberto Morales, returned $33.80 with her fourth win from 15 starts. Kellyn Gorder trains the 4-year-old Dixie Union filly for the TK Stables of Kevin Hulse.

Morales, who turns 23 on Wednesday and held a narrow lead atop the Ellis standings through the end of action Saturday, said he “rode to instructions. From the quarter pole to the wire the horse kept running.”

On a warm and humid afternoon, Magic Hour set the pace in the one-mile Gardenia, with Devious Intent giving closest chase. Meanwhile, Rajiv Maragh tried to settle Groupie Doll into a comfortable rhythm after a minor stumble at the break and while mixed in traffic through the first quarter-mile. Maragh eventually worked his way to the far outside, and approaching the quarter pole, and Groupie Doll looked every bit a winner as she loomed boldly while taking dead aim on the top pair.

But the layoff and perhaps the distance proved her undoing, as her bid stalled and she finished a length behind Devious Intent on the wire. Magic Hour, a 26-1 shot for rider Leandro Goncalves and trainer Ian Wilkes, was second by a neck while racing closest to the rail. The winner finished in 1:34.97 over a fast track.

“We knew coming in we might be up against it,” said Bradley, who also co-owns Groupie Doll, the 2012 filly-mare sprint champion. “And that’s okay. Obviously we’re hoping she’ll move up from this. We’ve got three more races on our schedule,” those being the Presque Isle Masters, the Thoroughbred Club of America, and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, all of which Groupie Doll won last year.

The $2 exacta (9-6) paid $334, the $1 trifecta (9-6-2) returned $758.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (9-6-2-11) was worth $1,013.50.

Dixie Strike, Assets of War, and Ciguaraya were early scratches, leaving nine fillies and mares.