Carina Mia graduated from a romping maiden win on October 29 at Keeneland to become a Grade 2 heroine thanks to a 4 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Golden Rod S. (G2) at Churchill Downs.

The race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and awarded Carina Mia 10 points toward a starting berth in next spring’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) back under the Twin Spires.

Carina Mia gained some valuable experience, both in terms of distance and track, as she successfully stretched out from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in the Golden Rod. She also passed the off-track hurdle, with all-day showers bringing about a sloppy, sealed surface in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jockey Julien Leparoux sent Carina Mia to the front but the dark bay miss had three rivals to her inside rounding the first turn. She went wide and gained command of the contest entering the backstretch with Stageplay keeping in close contact just off her flank through splits of :24.38, :49.07 and 1:14.13.

No one else was able to mount a challenge, leaving Carina Mia to lead the way into the lane with Stageplay latched on. That gray miss was looking to move her record to a perfect three-for-three and briefly threatened, but all it took was Leparoux shaking the reins at Carina Mia for the Bill Mott trainee to open up.

“I rode my filly the way she likes to run. I tried to get her to relax as much as she could and she was, she was very relaxed on the front end,” Leparoux explained. “I started to ask her pretty early to get her going and around the turn and in the stretch she kept on going very nice.

“Usually in shorter races, I would ask her to break good and she does. Today going around two turns, I didn’t want to ask her too much. I thought that she would break very sharp and she didn’t break as good as she usually does, but she still did it very easy.”

“Obviously she’s a really nice filly so our only question mark today was how she would handle the distance and the two turns and I think that she handled it pretty emphatically there,” assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy said.

“I think going forward she isn’t necessarily is going to have to have the lead in every race going forward, to me she’s maturing and that’s what you’ve seen today. (Julien Leparoux) had to use her a little around the turn but when he got to the backside and asked her to ease up, she answered everything for him.

“She’ll head down to Payson Park and have a winter there and (Bill Mott) will map out a campaign to get her back here on the first Friday in May.”

Carina Mia drew off to stop the clock in 1:45.42, and gained a measure of revenge against Stageplay after that one handed the Golden Rod winner her only loss to date in her October 10 debut at Keeneland. The dark bay juvenile lass returned 19 days later to post a romping 9 3/4-length maiden victory and is now 3-2-1-0, $163,840 in her career.

Bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, Carina Mia sold to Three Chimineys Farm as a $410,000 Keeneland September yearling.

Carina Mia is by Malibu Moon and out of the Argentinean-bred Southern Halo mare Miss Simpatia, making her a half-sister to yet another Argentinean-bred in Grade/Group 1 winner Miss Match. Miss Simpatia is herself a full sister to a pair of Argentinean champions.