11/22/2014 5:37PM

Strike Charmer gives Carroll first graded stakes win since 2010

Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Strike Charmer, with Chris Landeros aboard, handles "good" turf in the Cardinal Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The last time David Carroll won a graded stakes, his son, Declan, was in the fifth grade. So after Strike Charmer won the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap, father and son – now a ninth-grader with braces – were absolutely beaming in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle.

“We needed this,” Carroll said to all who approached.

Strike Charmer, with Chris Landeros up, got a textbook stalking trip before posting a two-length victory Saturday in the $119,700 Cardinal, returning $26.60 as fifth choice in a field of 14 fillies and mares. She finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.97 over “good” turf.

Pappascat, a 19-1 shot, finished second, another 1 1/4 lengths before 55-1 shot Antonia Autumn. I’m Already Sexy, the 8-5 favorite and 119-pound highweight, faded to fourth.

Bred and owned by the Courtlandt Farm of Donald Adam, who was on hand, Strike Charmer “couldn’t have run any better for me,” said Landeros. “She did everything 110 percent right.”

I’m Already Sexy sped off to a six-length lead down the backstretch under Calvin Borel, but those early efforts took a toll. In upper stretch, after sitting a pretty trip in fourth, Strike Charmer was first to pounce, and she gradually edged away from Pappascat for her first win in a stakes and third from 10 overall starts. Strike Charmer, a 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, was coming off a runner-up finish behind I’m Already Sexy in the Sept. 13 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf.

“I’d actually wanted to run her last month at Keeneland, but Mr. Adam said he wanted to point for the Cardinal, which obviously was a great call,” said Carroll. “We’re really happy with how the filly performed today.”

Carroll, who has trained for 22 years, won his last graded stakes in October 2010 when Acoma captured the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland. His only interim stakes win came in 2013 with Abstraction in the ungraded Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.

Carroll said Strike Charmer will head soon to his winter base, Fair Grounds, where she will be pointed to the major turf stakes.

The $2 exacta (12-6) paid $421.80, the $1 trifecta (12-6-10) returned $7,438.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (12-6-10-1) was worth $5,470.17.

Frivolous and Imposing Grace were early scratches, allowing Annabird and Honey Lake to draw in from the also-eligibles to maintain a full gate of 14.