10/27/2012 6:18PM

Golden Gate Fields: Miss Empire battles back in Pike Place Dancer

Vassar Photography
Miss Empire (inside) edges away in deep stretch of the Pike Place Dancer.

ALBANY, Calif. - Grade 1-placed Miss Empire ($3) showed her toughness in the lane, re-rallying to defeat Butterfly Soul by a neck to win the $100,000 Pike Place Dancer in her turf debut at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Heavily favored in the field of six 2-year-old fillies that included two maidens, Miss Empire broke alertly and set the pace under Russell Baze.

Butterfly Soul, who finished 19 lengths behind her in the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, moved three wide on the far turn and stuck her head in front at the quarter pole.

As the two dueled the final quarter-mile of the one-mile race, Butterfly Soul maintained a  narrow advantage, but Miss Empire dug in and began to inch away in the final 100 yards. She was a neck in front at the wire while winning in 1:38.84. Butterfly Soul was 1 1/2 lengths in front of Somethingabouther in third.

“The turf was a little soft and she was bobbling on it,” said Baze. “If she had gotten a better hold of the turf, I don’t think they would have gotten to her. As soon as that horse [Butterfly Soul] came up to her she dug back in, but it took her awhile to get her momentum and get going.

“Toward the end, she switched back to her left lead and was able to accelerate past the other horse. I think she has a promising future.”

Dennis Carr, who rode Butterfly Soul, said, “She made the favorite work hard. My filly ran huge. First time on grass, you couldn’t ask for anything more. Hopefully she’ll have a future on it [turf].”

Miss Empire, who won the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park in June, earned $60,000 to increase her career earnings to $207,120 with two victories and three thirds, all in stakes, in seven starts for trainer Peter Miller and owners Gary and Cecil Barber and Kevin Tsujihara.