"She's a very good filly. She was pressed today and she drew off clear and looked good to me," trainer Dale Romans said. "I was hoping for an effort like her last one. I try to stay positive and when (partner) Tammy (Fox) worked her the other day she said she'd improved since her first race.
"I'm sure everybody liked their filly but you don't know until you line them up and she ran the way we were hoping."
In the process, the Any Given Saturday juvenile earned not only an automatic starting berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita via the "Win & You're In" Challenge series but also 10 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Oaks gate next spring. The Pocahontas kicked off the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series of points races that determine the field for the 2015 "Run for the Lilies."
"I don't know," Romans said in regards to running Cristina's Journey in another race before the Breeders' Cup. "There's the (Grade 1, $400,000) Alcibiades (at Keeneland on October 3) sitting there but we'll just have to see how she's doing and let her tell me what we need to do.
"I don't think she has to though. I think she's the type of horse who could train right into a big race like that."
Cristina's Journey established splits of :24, :48 3/5 and 1:13 4/5 under jockey Miguel Mena while pressed by True to You and 3-2 favorite Take Charge Brandi to her outside. The latter filly faded after entering the stretch and the rest of the field soon engulfed True to You, but Cristina's Journey kept motoring in the lane.
"This filly has tactical speed. She won on the lead at Ellis," Mena said. "She broke sharp and the instructions were to just make the lead; if somebody goes crazy then maybe she's OK to start in second. But she broke well and had a nice steady pace; she was comfortable. Then when the rest of the field started to catch up at the quarter-pole, I let her pick it up a little bit. When I hit her at the eighth-pole, she picked it up and we won pretty easy.
"She's pretty awesome; she wins at Ellis by almost five and then she beat this bunch easy. Like I said, I hit her a couple of times at the eighth-pole and I felt her just pick it up right away and she galloped out strong. I think she's great but we'll see how good she is when we go to the Breeders' Cup I guess."
Cristina's Journey pulled off to be 2 1/4 lengths clear on the wire while stopping the clock in 1:46 1/5 over the fast main track for owner GSN Racing LLC.
"Tim's a good man. He owns a little piece of Silver Max and he's been around the game awhile," Romans said of GSN Racing's Tim Newcomer. "He's enthusiastic and loves the game so it's been fun and he's had some good success."
Pangburn took second by 2 1/2 lengths over Milehigh Butterfly while Loom followed another 1 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Take Charge Brandi and True to You came next, and were chased home by Phoenix Park, Frolic to the Wire, Queen's Ready and Rachel's Ready.
"She's acted all class from the beginning," trainer Kenny McPeek praised runner-up Pangburn. "She's always done everything right and she wants to go all day long so let's keep our fingers crossed between now and spring."
Cristina's Journey, who paid $9 as the 7-2 second choice, is now perfect from two career starts after capturing her maiden debut by 4 1/4 lengths in similar gate-to-wire fashion at Ellis Park on July 27. The winner's share from the Pocahontas pushed her lifetime earnings to $154,159.
Bred in Kentucky by Phil & Judy Needham and Bena Halecky, Cristina's Journey brought $37,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The bay lass is the first registered stakes winner out of the Dixie Union mare Toss the Feather, who is herself a daughter of multiple Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Dancing Mirage.
Cristina's Journey's third dam is dual Grade 2-placed stakes winner Flaming Leaves, who would go on in the breeding shed to produce not only Dancing Mirage but Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner Light of Morn and the dam of both Dubai Golden Shaheen victor Kinsale King and Grade 3 diva Victoria's Wildcat.
Farther back, this is the female family of champions Roving Boy, Level Best and Friar's Carse.