11/28/2009 12:00AM

Sassy Image completes sweep at Churchill

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Robby Albarado urges Sassy Image to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Dale Romans was denied his first Golden Rod Stakes when he sent out Sara Louise to a runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra last year. There was no denying Romans this year, as Sassy Image, getting a perfect trip under Robby Albarado, glided to a 3 3/4-length score Saturday on the "Stars of Tomorrow" program that closed the 21-day Churchill Downs fall meet.

"This was a nice one," said Romans, who trains Sassy Image for his older brother, Jerry Romans Jr. "Especially with the family ties and all."

Sassy Image became the third filly in the last five years to sweep the and Grade 3 Pocahontas Stakes, having won the latter on opening day, Nov. 1. She was the betting favorite in both, as she returned $4.60 Saturday after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.51 over a fast track.

Vivid Colors was sent to the early lead by Calvin Borel in the 66th Golden Rod, with Decelerator and All Due Respect in close pursuit. Meanwhile, Sassy Image was biding her time in fourth, having loped into that ideal position after getting away cleanly from the rail post.

In the far turn, Decelerator emerged best of the front three, but by the furlong pole, after they had pulled clear of the others, Sassy Image was getting the best of her. Sassy Image, by Broken Vow, earned $100,172 from the $163,200 purse.

Decelerator, ridden by Terry Thompson, finished 7 1/4 lengths ahead of Upperline, who was followed in order by Vivid Colors, All Due Respect, and Canadian Storm. Quiet Temper, also trained by Romans, was an early scratch.

French Park (2005) and Pure Clan (2007) also won both the Pocahontas and Golden Rod. Before them, At the Half (1993) was the last to sweep.

* Lost Aptitude ($6.40) posted a 5 1/4-length victory for Romans as the favorite in the $60,255 Grand Canyon, run at 1 1/16 miles over a firm turf. Hustled to the lead from his rail post by Jon Court, Lost Aptitude settled nicely and was never seriously threatened in winning for the third time in five starts. The Aptitude colt is owned by Frank Jones Jr. and Mike Bruder.

* Sheer Beauty ($18.20), giving Calvin Borel his third win on the day, took the lead early and repulsed all challenges to win the $60,000 Caressing, a one-mile turf race for fillies. Sheer Beauty, trained by Bernie Flint, was stretching out off two sprints.

* Borel rode back-to-back allowance winners earlier on the card when Brown Eyed Baby ($9.20) won the second race and Katy Now ($10.40) took the third.

* Jockey Jose Riquelme was reported by Churchill officials to have sustained a bloody lip but was otherwise okay after his scheduled mount in the fourth race, Sizzleate, apparently reared up and smacked him in the mouth. After the start was delayed 12 minutes, Sizzleate went on to finish unplaced with Terry Thompson up.