On Cloud Nine LLC's Sugar Shock utilized her rail post to its full advantage, taking command of the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park on Saturday and never looking back en route to a half-length victory.
Jockey Channing Hill held the reins on the Doug Anderson trainee as she established fractions of :23 1/5, :46 4/5, 1:11 3/5 and 1:37 2/5. The duo were stalked by Kiss Moon on the backstretch before that rival put in her move rounding the final turn. Sugar Shock dug in when challenged by Kiss Moon and held to finish 8 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:43 4/5.
"She broke so sharp, but I was hoping she would turn it off a little down the backside. But, she was always comfortable," Hill explained. "Once she turned into stretch I felt her take a few deep breaths and I knew she'd be tough from there.
"I was glad Terry's (Thompson) horse (Kiss Moon) was there to keep us honest and that we made the decision at the finish and not the stewards."
Sugar Shock paid $8.20 for the win as the 3-1 second choice. The Candy Ride filly crossed the wire in first on March 8 in Oaklawn's Honeybee but was disqualified that day for interference. Saturday's result was a much happier occasion for her trainer.
"We're just ecstatic. She's such a joy to be around," Anderson enthused. "It sure is a possibility that she'll go to the Kentucky Oaks. We'll see how she comes out of this."
Sugar Shock earned 100 points via the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series in the Fantasy and now sits second on the leaderboard with 120 total.
Kiss Moon also competed in the Honeybee, finishing fourth, and outran her 13-1 odds in this spot to take second by 3 1/2 lengths over Euphrosyne, who was awarded the Honeybee win via Sugar Shock's disqualification. Stopchargingmaria completed the top four under the line and was followed by Courageous Julie, Mufajaah, near 3-1 favorite Please Explain and Haveyougoneaway.
"She ran great. We didn't win, but what are you going to do? I think a better horse beat her," trainer David Vance praised his charge Kiss Moon. "This filly had herself together and put her where she needed to be."
"David and I talked and today we both figured we'd lap up on the 1 (Sugar Shock) if no one took that spot," Thompson described his ride aboard Kiss Moon. "I noticed that the (Steve) Asmussen horse (Euphrosyne) out of the gate wasn't hustling, so I hustled her and laid right on her hip. I had everything my way, I just couldn't get to (Sugar Shock). If I was to change anything, it'd be the outcome of the race. She ran a great race."
Sugar Shock made her stakes debut in the Honeybee following a maiden win on January 20 and an easy allowance victory one month later, both at Oaklawn. She dropped her initial two starts when competing as a juvenile at Churchill Downs, and saw her record improved to 6-3-1-1, $343,130, on Saturday.
Bred in Kentucky by Pam and Martin Wygod, Sugar Shock was purchased for $20,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is the first registered foal out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Enthusiastically, who is herself a daughter of Grade 3 heroine Unbridled Hope. This female line is also responsible for Grade 3 scorer Bearpath and Grade 2 victress Len's Determined.