Updated on 09/17/2011 1:49PM

In third try, Prince Arch gets by Kitten's Joy

Four Footed Fotos
Senor Swinger upsets Hard Buck by 1 1/4 lengths in the $110,900 Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The third time proved a charm Saturday for Prince Arch. Having finished second behind Kitten's Joy in two previous meetings, Prince Arch surged past his rival in the final yards to win the $226,200 on the Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill Downs.

Kitten's Joy, who had defeated Prince Arch in the Palm Beach Stakes and Crown Royal American Turf, appeared to be on his way to another victory in midstretch when he took control from Cool Conductor, but Prince Arch came flying to win by a head.

"In the other two races, I never got a clear run at him," said Brice Blanc, who rode Prince Arch for owner Ray Cottrell Sr. and trainer Ken McPeek. "I knew if I could get a clear run at the top of the lane, we'd give him a run for his money."

"My horse probably made the lead way too early," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Kitten's Joy, the 7-10 favorite, for trainer Dale Romans.

Prince Arch, the third choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds, returned $13 after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.61 over a yielding turf course.

By winning the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup, Prince Arch dealt Kitten's Joy his first defeat in six turf tries. The 3-year-old grass standouts could meet at least twice more this summer in the July 10 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and the Aug. 14 Secretariat at Arlington Park.

Prince Arch, a Kentucky-bred by Arch, has four wins and four seconds from 11 career starts and is just shy of $300,000 in career earnings. "My horse just keeps getting stronger and better," said McPeek.

Regret: McPeek and Blanc strike again

McPeek and Blanc also teamed to win the other Grade 3 turf stakes on the Foster Day card, the $221,800 , with Sister Star, who pulled away in the final furlong to prevail by 3 3/4 lengths over Western Ransom.

Bred and owned by John and Julie Marker, Sister Star returned $18 as fifth choice in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies. Western Ransom, the 5-2 favorite, was up late to finish a head in front of Jinny's Gold for place.

"That was an awesome race," said John Marker, who gained his richest victory as an owner.

As Sister Star raced just off the pace in second, Jinny's Gold led most of the 1 1/8 miles of the Regret and appeared to rate suitably for jockey Mark Guidry. Into the far turn, the field began to bunch closer together, and once they straightened away, Sister Star had easily the most punch.

"I think the soft going helped my filly today," said Blanc. "She just keeps coming. She doesn't have a whole lot of acceleration, just a steady run."

Sister Star, by Langfuhr, was entered off a runner-up finish behind Jinny's Gold in the May 22 Regret prep. In her previous start, Sister Star had defeated older fillies in an entry-level allowance. She earned $137,516 with her third win from 10 career starts.

Opening Verse: Senor Swinger scores

McPeek's bid to win three of Saturday's six stakes at Churchill Downs was foiled in the last stakes, the $110,900 Opening Verse Handicap, when Senor Swinger upset Hard Buck by 1 1/4 lengths.

A clean trip tipped the scales in Senor Swinger's factor. Jockey Pat Day was able to keep Senor Swinger in the clear throughout, unlike Hard Buck, who was stuck in traffic for much of the race.

Senor Swinger, always comfortable over the yielding course softened by morning and afternoon rain, stalked the pace in fifth early, as longshot Majestic Thief established slow

early fractions of 50.54 and 1:15.60 for the 1 1/16-mile race.

Midway on the final turn, the winner began to effortlessly catch the leaders on the outside, and once turned loose in midstretch, edged clear under a confident ride.

Senor Swinger ran the distance in 1:45.82, paying $6.20 as the second choice in the seven-horse field.

Senor Swinger's victory in the Opening Verse pushed his turf record to 4 for 4 at Churchill Downs. A 4-year-old son of El Prado, he is 0 for 7 on all other grass courses.

In winning the Opening Verse, Senor Swinger earned $68,758 for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, who purchased him privately and turned him over to trainer Bob Baffert last spring. He has made more than $491,000 in 17 starts, bolstered by victories in Crown Royal American Turf and Jefferson Cup over the Churchill course in 2003.

Favored Hard Buck, making his first start since a runner-up finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 27, lacked his customary acceleration upon finding room in the stretch. Pacesetter Majestic Thief was a 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Northern Dancer: The real Suave shows up

Suave has proven in his 12-race career that he can be either awful or brilliant. On Saturday, he was very much the latter, as the A.P. Indy colt ran past J Town in the final furlong for an upset at 11-1 in the $232,400 .

Suave, bred and owned by the Jay Em Ess Stable of Mace and Samantha Siegel, had briefly been considered a candidate for the spring classics before finishing 12th, beaten 37 lengths, in his last start, the April 17 Lexington Stakes. Duly refreshed at Churchill by trainer Paul J. McGee, Suave broke fastest of all in the 1 1/16-mile Northern Dancer before securing a good tracking position from just behind front-running J Town, who was wearing saddlecloth No. 10.

"At the quarter pole, the number 10 was moving and moving, so I got to moving, too, and he finished good," said Rafael Bejarano, the winning jockey.

Suave drew off to win by three lengths over J Town, who had another three lengths on Ecclesiastic in the field of 12 3-year-olds. Two Down Automatic, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth.

The winner returned $25.20 as sixth choice after finishing in 1:44.50 over a sloppy track.

Suave flashed onto the classics radar by winning an entry-level allowance route on the Florida Derby undercard at Gulfstream Park. But after finishing a creditable third in the Illinois Derby, he threw in his Lexington clunker, leading McGee to back off of him.

- additional reporting by Byron King