10/05/2017 11:56AM

Finley'sluckycharm has BC Filly and Mare Sprint berth on line

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Barbara D. Livingston
Finley'sluckycharm (right) finishes second by a neck to Paulassilverlining in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Finley’sluckycharm hit a bump in the road on her way to the Breeders’ Cup. But it was a small bump – and a timely one, all things considered – and now trainer Bret Calhoun is excited about what’s ahead for the talented 4-year-old filly.

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Finley’sluckycharm was withheld from her main summer goal, the Aug. 26 Ballerina at Saratoga, because of a minor injury to her left hind leg. But given ample time to regroup, she has had everything fall into place for a final push to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.

With Brian Hernandez Jr. back to ride, Finley’sluckycharm will be heavily favored Saturday at Keeneland to earn an expenses-paid berth to the Nov. 4 BC Filly and Mare Sprint when she faces seven other fillies and mares in the Grade 2, $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America.

“She has trained great for this race and we are looking forward to Saturday,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Finley’sluckycharm for longtime client Carl Moore.

Finley’sluckycharm has done little wrong in her 11-race career, winning eight times and finishing second twice. The dark bay filly has won four stakes, with her only defeats coming in a failed attempt at two turns and narrow misses in the Grade 1 La Brea and Grade 2 Honorable Miss.

Calhoun, who won the 2010 BC Filly-Mare Sprint with Dubai Majesty, said the problem that forced his latest stable star to miss the Ballerina is no longer of consequence and that he has been highly satisfied with her five breezes and overall demeanor since she returned to training.

If one of her rivals is to outrun her for the Win and You’re In berth at stake here, it most likely will be Bendable, Vertical Oak, or Ivy Bell. All have shown flashes of ability that could make them dangerous, given a top effort.

The TCA, named for the club headquartered on the southwestern edge of the Keeneland grounds, is carded as the sixth of 10 Saturday races and leads off an all-stakes pick four (races 6-9) with a $350,000 pool guarantee.

The last TCA winner to also win the BC Filly-Mare Sprint was Groupie Doll in 2012.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Finley’sluckycharm, by Twirling Candy
Last 3 Beyers: 97-92-98

◗ She has put her ample natural speed to full advantage on numerous occasions, including in her rare sweep of three stakes at the Churchill Downs spring meet, but Hernandez knows her very well and often speaks to how responsive she is to his cues.

Bendable, by Horse Greeley
Last 3 Beyers: 88-97-84

◗ Invading from Southern California for trainer Richard Mandella, this Claiborne Farm homebred was third to Irish Jasper in the 2016 TCA and has raced just twice in the interim, including one stakes win.

Vertical Oak, by Giant Oak
Last 3 Beyers: 99-78-82

◗ Her 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Prioress in the Saratoga slop last month represents a career peak. Trained by Steve Asmussen, she now tries older horses for the first time.

Ivy Bell, by Archarcharch
Beyers: n/a-88-88

◗ Owner Brook Smith and trainer Billy Denzik are confident this highly improved filly can rebound from the mishap that occurred three weeks ago at Churchill when she lost her jockey.