Played Hard Makes The Grade In Locust Grove, Provides Notable Firsts For Owner, Trainer - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Played Hard Makes The Grade In Locust Grove, Provides Notable Firsts For Owner, Trainer

Into Mischief’s daughter Played Hard wins the G3 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs

Played Hard grabbed the lead from pacesetter Crazy Beautiful midway around the final turn and kicked home for a comfortable 5 ¾-length win over that rival in Saturday's 38th running of the $393,000 Locust Grove (G3) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

The victory gave owner Richard Rigney and trainer Phil Bauer their first career stakes wins.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Played Hard sat just behind Crazy Beautiful, who led the compact field of five distaffers through comfortable early fractions of :24.16, :48.27 and 1:12.46. Rosario asked Play Hard to challenge for the lead while leaving the turn and Li'l Tootsie followed suit from the outside. Played Hard kicked away from the field in upper stretch as Li'l Tootsie attempted to keep up and Crazy Beautiful was able to sustain her run and re-rallied for the place honors.

“I can't really put into words how special this win is for our entire team,” Bauer said. “It's so special to have my family here, (owner) Richard (Rigney) and his wife (Tammy) here as well. This is our home track and it's my first graded stakes win here. This horse is getting really good at the right time. We'll see how she comes out of things in the morning and we'll leave it up to Richard to see where she takes us next.”

Played Hard's clocking for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track was 1:43.50.

“I just let her settle out of the gate,” Rosario said. “I was confident in her most of the way around there with how well she was travelling. When I asked her to go she just really responded like I thought she would. This was the first time I've been on her but I saw her form and looked at some of her previous races. It looked like she was coming into this race in really good form and showed it.”

Played Hard, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Into Mischief out of the Tiznow mare Well Lived, returned $6.24 as the 2-1 second betting choice. Third-place finisher Li'l Tootsie was another 1 ½ lengths behind Crazy Beautiful.

Comebacker Gold Spirit was fourth and 9-5 favorite Envoutante was fifth. Princess of Cairo was scratched.

The victory was worth $246,000 to Played Hard and increased her earnings to $612,870 with a record of 4-5-1 from 12 starts. This was her first stakes win.

The Locust Grove is named after the 1790 Georgian mansion in Louisville that was home to ancestors of Churchill Downs founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark.

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