10/07/2017 5:05PM

Finley'sluckycharm comes through in Thoroughbred Club of America

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Finley'sluckycharm and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. win the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Finley’sluckycharm was fifth down the backstretch, which might have rattled a lesser horse. Normally a front-runner, the filly nonetheless adapted on the fly – literally – when charging home a popular winner Saturday in the Grade 2, $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland.

Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Finley’sluckycharm earned an expenses-paid berth in the Nov. 4 BC Filly and Mare Sprint at Del Mar, a race for which she figures as one of the favorites.

“She changed the game plan on us today,” said Hernandez. “But she’s a good filly, and I guess you can do things like that with a filly like her. She really made me proud the last eighth of a mile, the way she came home. I never really panicked. The big thing was just to trust in her, and she came through for us.”

Finley’sluckycharm, owned by Carl Moore and trained by Bret Calhoun, returned $3.60 after finishing six furlongs in 1:10.01 over a fast track.

True Romance, a 38-1 shot, was prominent from her outside post before opening a clear lead as the field of seven fillies and mares turned for home. But she had no response when Hernandez set down Finley’sluckycharm, as Chalon, who had led early, resurged late along the rail to grab second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner and another three-quarters of a length before True Romance.

Calhoun said he was concerned with how the race began but that he was confident Finley’sluckycharm would show her true colors when given a chance. The 4-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy now has won nine of 12 career starts, with the $150,000 winner’s share lifting her bankroll to $583,368.

“Those horses got in front of her quick, and [Brian] decided to just try something a little different,” said Calhoun. “I’m always worried, but that’s just me.”

Calhoun and Hernandez both said Finley’sluckycharm has taken kindly to rating in her morning works, a tendency that could serve her well when she stretches out to seven furlongs in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

After the top three finishers, the order was Bendable, I’m a Looker, Grace’s Treasure, and Vertical Oak.

Ivy Bell was scratched at the gate when throwing Shaun Bridgmohan just as she was being loaded. Owner Brook Smith said afterward that he and trainer Billy Denzik will give the 4-year-old filly some time off to “regroup and let her get her head together.”

The $2 exacta (4-6) paid $24.40, the $1 trifecta (4-6-7) returned $129.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (4-6-7-1) was worth $45.19.