Los Angeles (AFP) - SisterCharlie surged late to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday at Churchill Downs, edging European favorite Wild Illusion.
John Velazquez was aboard the Chad Brown-trained SisterCharlie, notching his 16th career Breeders' Cup win 20 years after capturing his first.
"We went to the first turn, everybody was screaming, howling, everybody was checking and clipping heels," Velazquez said of the chaotic early going in the 1 3/8-mile race on the turf track at Louisville, Kentucky, where a slow early pace made for a tightly bunched field.
"I liked where I was. She relaxed well where I was and was moving well past the wire the first time. From there I just bided my time with her. I followed (Wild Illusion) and she won."
Wild Illusion, the 5-2 first choice trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, broke poorly after making a production of loading into the starting gate.
Buick got her into position and surged past front-runner A Raving Beauty in the stretch but Velazquez brought SisterCharlie roaring past as they approached the wire.
"The winner showed a really good turn of foot," Buick said. "I thought when I hit the front, I’d be able to open up a decent lead. I'm delighted with the filly. She ran really well and ran up to her standard."
Brown notched his fourth win in the race, his first since Stephanie's Kitten triumphed in 2015. He also saddled third-placed A Raving Beauty, ridden by Javier Castellano.
"I am very proud of her," Castellano said. "We set a slow pace as we galloped along on the lead. I was surprised no one put any pressure on me. I rode the filly the way I was hoping for today. Those were two good horses that beat me but I am very proud of my filly."