09/17/2016 3:27PM

Engaginglee springs 7-1 upset in Locust Grove

Coady Photography
Engaginglee (left), under Luis Saez, prevails by a head over Miss Pink Diva in the Locust Grove.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Engaginglee finally became a stakes winner – and a graded one at that – with one of her top efforts when she rallied for a 7-1 upset in the 33rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove, the first of four stakes races Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Coming from well off the pace under Luis Saez, Engaginglee wore down 22-1 shot Miss Pink Diva by a head for her fourth victory in 23 career starts for trainer Dale Romans. Miss Pink Diva, always prominent under Shaun Bridgmohan, was second by three lengths over Innovative Idea.

Engaginglee, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old by Fusaichi Pegasus, returned $17.60 after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.24 over a muddy track.

“She broke well and we saved ground and when I asked her she responded very well,” said Saez, in from New York for the day. “I had a little more left; she was hanging a little bit but she battled back and fought very well.”

Engaginglee, bred and owned by Jack Stewart and Paul Lichtefeld, has run seven times over the Churchill main track, with a runner-up finish behind Curalina in the Grade 1 La Troienne foremost among her prior efforts. She also was third here in June in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis.

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“She seems to do her best here at home,” said Romans.

Easily the disappointment of the Locust Grove was Ahh Chocolate, the two-time graded winner who was 1-9 for much of the pre-race betting before settling in as the 3-5 favorite. The 4-year-old Ahh Chocolate had no apparent mishap in stalking the pace before she began fading at the half-mile pole en route to a last-place finish in the field of six fillies and mares.

The $2 exacta (5-3) paid $262.40, the $1 trifecta (5-3-6) returned $549.50, and the 10-cent superfecta (5-3-6-4) was worth $120.88.