For the second straight year, a 2-year-old Texas-bred gray filly from the barn of trainer Bret Calhoun invaded Churchill Downs to raid the Debutante Stakes.
Last year, it was Clarence Scharbauer Jr.’s homebred Fiftyshadesofgold, who’d go on to win this year’s $200,725 Eight Belles (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day. On Saturday, it was Promise Me Silver’s turn to shine as she put away 7-5 favorite Unbridled Reward down the stretch to win the 114th running of the $108,300 race by two lengths.
Owned and bred by Robert Luttrell, Promise Me Silver ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:11.49 to give jockey Robby Albarado his fourth winner in the race for aspiring juvenile fillies.
Unbridled Reward broke fastest of all in the field of six and was pressed by Chicago-invader Irish Nuggets through early fractions of :22.22 and :45.93. Promise Me Silver tracked the leaders from the outside in third, moved into contention and drew even midway through the turn and spurted clear of Unbridled Reward with three-sixteenths of a mile to run en route to the convincing win.
“When I called on her to go after (Unbridled Reward) she did it very quickly,” Albarado said. “She’s a very talented and very smart filly.”
It was another 11 ¼ lengths back to third place finisher Rousanne.
Promise Me Silver, the 2-1 second betting choice, paid $6.20, $3.20 and $2.60. Unbridled Reward, ridden by Alan Garcia, returned $3 and $2.60. Rousanne, with Shaun Bridgmohan up, paid $4.20.
Each of the entrants made one career start prior to the Debutante. Promise Me Silver, a daughter of Valor Farm stallion Silver City out of the Macho Uno mare Uno Mas Promesa, debuted May 11 against state-breds at Lone Star Park with a 6 ¾-length romp as her rider sat motionless down the stretch. It wasn’t as easy Saturday as Albarado, deputizing for the injured Rosie Napravnik, urged her home with left-handed taps from his riding crop.
“I know coming out of Lone Star sometimes they don’t give them quite as much credit but all those guys have their 2-year-olds ready early on,” Calhoun said. “She broke from the one-hole in her first start and manhandled the group. Then she came up here and trained forwardly and I knew she had a lot of talent.
“Talent-wise at this point in time I think they’re similar,” Calhoun said about comparing Promise Me Silver to Fiftyshadesofgold, who was sired by Valor Farm stallion My Golden Song. “This filly’s physique is much different. Fiftyshadesofgold is a much larger filly, but talent-wise their very close right now.
The triumph was worth $66,475 and improved Promise Me Silver’s bankroll to $78,355 in two starts. Calhoun suggested that her next race could be a stakes event at Saratoga. The $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) at six furlongs will be run on the Spa’s opening day on Friday, July 18.
The Debutante was first staged in 1895 and is one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races.