Gilbert Campbell's homebred 2-year-old filly Blue Eyed Sweetie led every step of the way to win the $55,950 Brave Raj Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday. She defeated Beso Grande by 1 ¼ lengths; it was a head back to Media Bias in third place.
Sent off as the heavy favorite, Blue Eyed Sweetie covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:46.47 and paid $3.00, $2.10, $2.10 (prices OK). Manoel Cruz was the winning jockey for trainer Kathleen O'Connell.
Media Bias returned $4.20 and $3.80, while Media Bias paid $5.40 to show.
The Brave Raj marked Blue Eyed Sweetie's second victory going "two turns," having won the Lindsay Frolic Stakes at one mile on Aug. 28.
Winning trainer's quotes:
Kathleen O'Connell - "I really didn't want her on the lead and be hooked all the way on this dead (slow) racetrack, but she's a big, long-striding filly and that's how it turned out. I think she ran a tremendous race. We'll go on to the ($375,000) My Dear Girl (division of the Florida Stallion Stakes) from here (Oct. 16)."
Winning jockey's quotes:
Manoel Cruz - "When I looked at the race I figured we would make the lead since most of the others were going two turns for the first time. I just figured they all would be trying to save some horse to get the distance. My filly broke well and the pace was so slow that we couldn't help but be in front and, naturally, she had plenty left after setting those slow fractions."
Calder's signature event, the Festival of the Sun, is Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. The Festival of the Sun presents seven stakes races worth $1.13 million. Two of the stakes are the finals of the rich Florida Stallion Stakes. The Florida Stallion Stakes program, now in its 29th year, was created to promote Florida-bred Thoroughbreds and the $5 billion industry that supports them. The day also features the $75,000 Calder Derby (G3) and the $100,000 Spend A Buck Handicap (G3), a "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup challenge race.