11/01/2014 5:31PM

Judy the Beauty scores in BC Filly and Mare Sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Judy the Beauty (right), ridden by Mike Smith, beats Better Lucky in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Judy the Beauty held off longshot Better Lucky to continue a huge weekend for trainer Wesley Ward when posting a narrow victory Saturday in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

With Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, Judy the Beauty needed every bit of the perfect trip she got when finishing a head before Better Lucky in the seven-furlong race.

Ward, who watched from south Florida after opting to be with his family, already had enjoyed a successful BC weekend after notching a win and two seconds from just three starters Friday. After the BC Turf Sprint, in which No Nay Never was second and Undrafted was third, he wound up with a remarkable record of 2-3-1 from six starters in the 2014 BC.

“Unreal,” he said by text message shortly after the race.

Sent away a lukewarm favorite, Judy the Beauty returned $8.20 after finishing in 1:21.92 over a fast track.

Stonetastic, the 3-1 second choice, set the pace from the rail while followed closely by Leigh Court and Southern Honey. Judy the Beauty, away in good order, was always in the clear when fifth down the backstretch and began to inch closer with an outside run into the far turn.

After straightening away, Judy the Beauty wrested the lead from a tiring Stonetastic nearing the eighth pole. She then was put to an all-out drive by Smith to prevail over Better Lucky, a 23-1 shot who trailed early under Javier Castellano before saving ground around the turn and angling out smartly to finish powerfully.

Thank You Marylou, a 39-1 shot, was third, another 3 1/2 lengths back, while Stonetastic held fourth, another length behind.

A 5-year-old Ontario-bred mare by Ghostzapper, Judy the Beauty is owned by Ward, who trained her into the race off a series of workouts at Keeneland, mostly on turf. Ward said before the Filly and Mare Sprint that he believed “I’ve got her as good as I can get her,” and that he felt comfortable skipping an interim prep after Judy the Beauty had made her last start Aug. 18.

Ward, 46, won the 1984 Eclipse Award for top apprentice jockey before turning to training several years later. He had been shut out with his first 16 BC starters before Friday, when Hootenanny and Luck of the Kitten ran one-two in the BC Juvenile Turf and Sunset Glow was second in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Judy the Beauty has been a model of consistency for Ward, who said before the race that he is inclined to keep her in training and point to the 2015 BC Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland. The mare now has nine wins and seven seconds from 18 starts, with the $550,000 winner’s share giving her a career bankroll of $1,662,112.

Last year in the Filly and Mare Sprint, she finished second at 9-1 by a half-length to two-time division champion Groupie Doll.

Ward told BC publicity from Florida: “She just digs down deep in her soul. That was amazing. Very few horses run with as much heart as she does. I’m just elated with this whole weekend.”

For Smith, the victory extended his own record for the most riding wins in the Breeders’ Cup to 21.

“Absolutely dynamite,” said Smith. “I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Almost every step of it, except for almost getting caught.”

Castellano said of Better Lucky: “She was the only one closing. I have to give credit to the winner, she just wouldn’t stop.”

After the top four, the order was Leigh Court, Southern Honey, Artemis Agrotera, Sweet Reason, Little Alexis, and Living the Life.

The $2 exacta (7-8) paid $136, the $1 trifecta (7-8-4) returned $1,209.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-8-4-3) was worth $844.10.

This was the eighth running of the Filly and Mare Sprint, first run in 2007 at Monmouth Park.