09/24/2017 8:29AM

Pinch Hit by a neck in Dogwood Stakes

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Coady Photography
Pinch Hit and jockey Jon Court win the Dogwood Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Pinch Hit notched the first stakes victory of her career Saturday night when holding off Champagne Problems in the final yards of the 42nd running of the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes, the highlight of the final Downs After Dark card of the year at Churchill Downs.

The win was particularly sweet for owner Richard Klein, who bred Pinch Hit with his father, Bert, a Thoroughbred industry stalwart who died in March at age 86.

“When this filly broke her maiden at Oaklawn Park, it was the day before my father died,” said Klein. “She was the last horse of ours he got to see run. There’s an angel up there watching over this horse.”

With Jon Court aboard for trainer Brad Cox, Pinch Hit raced in midpack behind a hot early pace that developed down the backstretch of the seven-furlong Dogwood. Court angled her off the rail for the stretch run, and the daughter of Harlan’s Holiday withstood a stout rail rally by Champagne Problems to prevail by a neck.

Jordan’s Henny was third, and Covenant was fourth, while Farrell, the 2-1 favorite in her first start since the Kentucky Oaks, could do no better than fifth in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies. Five early scratches reduced the lineup from its original 14.

Pinch Hit paid $12.20 as the third choice with her fourth win from nine career starts. She finished in 1:23.27 over a fast track.

“She’s always real responsive under me, whether we’re on the front end or coming from behind,” said Court, who was aboard her for the third time.

Cox said the Grade 2 Raven Run on Oct. 21 at Keeneland could be next for Pinch Hit.

The $2 exacta (1-2) paid $95.60, the $1 trifecta (1-2-12) returned $233.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-2-12-13) was worth $103.92.

Quick and Rich wins UAE Cup

One race later, Quick and Rich ($41.20) surged past the two favorites to upset the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, a Grade 1 race for Arabians. Joe Rocco Jr. was aboard for trainer Lynn Ashby in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Easter Man took over for the 3-5 favorite, Paddys Day, leaving the quarter pole, but he was unable to hold off the well-timed outside run by the winner.

• This was the 44th Downs After Dark program at Churchill, where the first such card was held in June 2009. Attendance on an unseasonably warm night was reported at 15,317, down nearly 9 percent from the 16,768 who showed up last year on the comparable date.