Fun and Feisty, owned by Michael Mackin’s Lucky Seven Stable of Louisville, displayed a powerful late kick down the stretch and comfortably won Saturday’s 54th running of the $300,000 Pocahonatas (Grade III) for 2-year-old fillies by 3 1/2 lengths over Shoplifter at Churchill Downs.
Fun and Feisty ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.86 to give jockey Julien Leparoux and trainer Kenny McPeek their third wins in the race.
Fun and Feisty, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Midshipman out of the First Samurai mare Grouse Grind, banked $174,735 for the win. She also is the early points-leader on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” after collecting 10 points. The Pocahontas was the first of 32 qualifying races to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) to be run next May, and points were awarded to the Top 5 finishers on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale.
“She’s trained like a good horse all along and acts like a good one at the barn,” McPeek said. “When she won going three-quarters of a mile I told the Mackins that we are going to have some fun with her and this was just the start. She’s going to stretch out and go longer. She’s good minded, sound and healthy. I think you’ll see her around here for a couple of seasons. The (Oct. 7) Alcibiades (GI) will be the next spot for her at Keeneland.”
Breaking from post 10 in the field of a dozen 2-year-old fillies, Fun and Feisty settled far off the pace set by even-money favorite Grand Love, a fast debut winner at Saratoga who rattled off fractions of :23.74, :48.07 and 1:12.76. Fun and Feisty launched her wide rally around the far turn, sustained her charge outside of foes to bid for the lead at the final furlong and readily drew away thereafter.
“She relaxed from off the pace but she was running at a comfortable pace,” Leparoux said. “She started making up ground without me even asking her around the turn and when I finally asked her she had more left in the tank. She handled the extra distance very well and I don’t think we got to the bottom of her either.”
Fun and Feisty (4-2-1-0—$257,311) paid $14.46, $6.50 and $3.74 as the 6-1 third betting choice. Shoplifter, who got up for second under Rafael Bejarano, returned $14.02 and $6.64 at odds of 14-1. Grand Love, with Joel Rosario up, was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $2.94 to show.
Boss Lady Bailey, Friendlypersuasion, Jet Setting, Southlawn, Outofnothingatall, Need Some Money, Kiss Me On Oconee, Justa Warrior and Naughty Gal completed the order of finish.
The winner was bred by J. Stephen McDonald.
Leparoux previously won the Pocahontas aboard Pure Clan (2007) and Dancinginherdreams (2010). McPeek’s prior Pocahontas triumphs came in 2015-16 with Dothraki Queen and Daddys Lil Darling, respectively.