On a wet and rainy afternoon at Churchill Downs, the up-and-coming Finite took a big first step on the road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1), scoring a hard-fought victory in the $300,000 Golden Rod (G2) on Saturday.
Favored at 4-5, the daughter of Munnings showed a new dimension in the Golden Rod. Never more than half a length off the pace in her four previous starts, Finite obeyed the conservative cues of jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and rated patiently in third place early on, saving ground as Bean and Lady Glamour carved out fractions of :23.93 and :48.53 over a sloppy, sealed track.
Heading down the backstretch, Finite shifted to the outside and began to close ground on the leaders. Following six furlongs in 1:14.20 the Steve Asmussen-trained filly was on nearly even terms with the pacesetters, and at the top of the stretch she kicked clear under urging.
But the race wasn’t over. Down the lane, Finite was confronted by the late-rallying longshot Motu, who swept into contention from the back of the pack. A ding-dong battle ensued, and while Finite drifted out late under hard urging from Santana, she refused to yield to her challenger and prevailed by three-quarters of a length at the wire.
“She’s a super nice filly,” Santana said. “The credit goes to Steve (Asmussen) and his team because they have been working hard with this filly to get her to relax in the morning. She settled very nicely behind horses and was not going to let anyone get by her today.”
In her first start around two turns, Finite stopped the clock for 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.99. Runner-up Motu ran a big race in her own right, pulling 6 1/2 lengths clear of Lady Glamour, while She Can’t Sing rounded out the top four.
Motu’s rider, Brian Hernandez Jr., praised his mount’s runner-up performance. “”he ran a great effort and really tried her best in the stretch. We just got a little unlucky to get beat by a very nice filly.”
The Golden Rod marked the second stakes triumph of Finite’s career, following an easy score in the October 27 Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs. Produced from the Tapit mare Remit, Finite is owned by the partnership of Winchell Thoroughbreds, Thomas Reiman, William Dickson, and Deborah Easter.
With earnings of $368,349 from her 5-3-2-0 career tally, Finite has already earned back her $200,000 purchase price. Even better, victory in the Golden Rod secured the chestnut 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Asmussen, who has already won the Oaks with Summerly (2005) and Untapable (2014), is looking ahead to next year with his new star filly.
“It was pretty cool that before the Golden Rod the replay of Untapable’s Kentucky Oaks win was playing on the Big Board,” he said. “Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come.”
Considering the affinity Finite has already demonstrated for Churchill Downs, she’ll certainly head into winter as one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Oaks.