11/26/2016 6:49PM

Farrell shows growth in winning Golden Rod Stakes

Coady Photography
Farrell and jockey Channing Hill win the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes by six lengths Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When Farrell arrived in the Churchill Downs paddock for her graded stakes debut, it was obvious that the late-developing filly was blooming physically, as she strutted around on the muscle and with her neck bowed. After she hit the track, it was obvious that the 2-year-old filly has developed mentally as well.

Farrell relaxed under a cagy ride from Channing Hill, taking the field almost all the way on the lead to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes by six lengths Saturday.

Farrell ($23), who did not start until mid-September, has now won twice from four career starts, all at Churchill Downs, for trainer Wayne Catalano. She came into the Golden Rod off a third-place finish in the Rags to Riches Stakes on Oct. 30, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

"She settled nice, that was the difference [today]," said Hill, who is Catalano's son-in-law. "She had a better foundation underneath her this time and just better relaxed. I had plenty left."

Farrell, breaking from post 11 in a field of 12, was off a bit slowly but had recovered to take the lead less than a quarter-mile into the race, with Hill guiding her toward the inside. After an opening quarter in 23.89 seconds, the filly slowed things down a bit through a half in 48.33 and six furlongs in 1:13.80.

"She got squeezed a little bit going into the first turn but had everything her own way [otherwise]," Hill said. "She was super relaxed. Wayne had her on point and ready to roll. She settled into the turn and down the backside, and then from there it was going to be tough to catch her. She has a lot of quality to her. She settled. It really was up to her how fast she was wanting to go."

Ahead by a length after that steady six furlongs, Farrell kicked away when asked in upper stretch and steadily widened her advantage through the lane, finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.26. The favored Daddys Lil Darling, the winner of the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes during Churchill's September meet, finished second, a neck ahead of Ever So Clever, the runner-up in that event.

The Golden Rod awards points toward starting berths in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Catalano said that Farrell is likely to take the Fair Grounds route toward the filly classic.

"We'll make a plan, and we'll get her there the best way we know how," he said.

Farrell, a Malibu Moon filly who runs as a homebred for Coffee Pot Stable, is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Carpe Diem and J.B.'s Thunder.