05/01/2009 11:00PM

Four Gifts cruises past Just Jenda

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Barbara D. Livingston
Four Gifts rallies to win the Eight Belles by three lengths under Shaun Bridgmohan.

There would be no fairy-tale ending in the $113,300 Eight Belles Stakes.

Four Gifts, under Shaun Bridgmohan, rallied past favored Just Jenda outside the sixteenth pole to win the Grade 3 Eight Belles by three lengths on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Just Jenda, the 9-5 favorite, finished second, two lengths ahead of Warrior Maid. The second- and third-place finishers are trained by Larry Jones, who also trained Eight Belles, the filly who suffered fatal injuries after finishing second in last year's Kentucky Derby. This was the first running of the Eight Belles, formerly known as the La Troienne.

Four Gifts, trained by Steve Asmussen, had defeated Just Jenda two of the previous three times they met. Under Shaun Bridgmohan, Just Jenda stalked the pace in third, just inside of Just Jenda, under Gabriel Saez. Approaching the quarter pole, Gabriel Saez made a three-wide move on Four Gifts while Bridgmohan kept his filly back in fourth. Bridgmohan made his move turning for home, and after trying to rally up the inside, he guided his filly to the outside where she wore down Just Jenda handily.

Four Gifts, a daughter of Even the Score owned by Heiligbrodt Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, covered the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:30.94 in the slop and returned $9.60 as the second choice.

"I think the distance is the key with her," Asmussen said. "She's been a very special filly seven-eighths to a mile. The prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks, she ran a good race, but it put it in your head that that might have been a step too far, because she made a great run and she then backed up the last sixteenth. . . . I thought this was an ideal spot for her timing-wise as well, as with all the experience she had coming into it."

Asmussen said Four Gifts would be pointed to races like the Acorn (June 6) at Belmont Park and the Test (Aug. 8) at Saratoga.