‘It Doesn’t Get Any Better’: Utley Wins Stakes At Home With Yes It’s Ginger

Mike “Hotdog” Utley, this Bud’s for you!

Utley, who runs his family’s Edward Utley Jr. Inc. beer (including Budweiser) distributorship in Henderson, got his biggest thrill in horse racing as favored Yes It’s Ginger wore down the speedy Elle Z for a 1 1/4-length triumph in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Ladies Sprint at Ellis Park. That’s where the 59-year-old Utley has been going to the races since he was 12, as well as the hometown track for his eight partners who collectively own 25 percent of the 5-year-old mare with majority owner Brilliant Racing and Tagg Team Racing.

“It’s great, in front of everybody,” Utley said. “I don’t know how you can describe it… There will be a lot of Bud. I was crossing my fingers, trust me.”

He said the victory ranks No. 1 in his racing career as owner and fan “and it doesn’t get any better.”

The Ladies Sprint was part of a turf stakes quartet Sunday that wrapped up the two-day Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Weekend at the RUNHAPPY meet at Ellis Park.

Marcelino Pedroza rode the Greg Foley-trained Yes It’s Ginger for the first time, pressing Elle Z through a stiff pace before edging clear late. The Foley-trained Skinny Dip finished another 2 1/4 lengths back in third in the full field of 12 fillies and mares.

“I watched the replays on her and she’s quick out of the gate,” said Pedroza, who earlier this meet won the Good Lord Stakes on the Foley-trained Bango. “She was quick out of the gate when she ran (finishing second June 3 at Churchill Downs) against Elle Z. We didn’t want to be in the lead. We just wanted to sit there and make sure Elle Z felt the pressure. Turning for home, I asked her to go and she responded like a Quarter Horse. She was running in the end and was very impressive.”

Yes It’s Ginger was the only one of the four Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Weekend stakes winners Sunday who didn’t set a course record over the very firm turf. But she came close, powering 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:00.71, just off Totally Boss’ mark of 1:00.26 set in 2019. Yes It’s Ginger, a son of Yes It’s True out of Ginger Light, paid $7 to win.

The mare now is 3 for 3 at Ellis Park. Brilliant Racing approached Foley about buying half-interest in Yes It’s Ginger when she was a 4-year-old maiden who’d had arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip. Foley liked what he saw and brought in Utley’s group, which had been looking for a horse and wanted to be part of the Foley family’s Tagg Team Racing.

Yes It’s Ginger promptly won a maiden and allowance race last summer at Ellis Park off a 13-month layoff. She came into this race off victory in Lone Star Park’s $75,000 Chicken Fried Stakes in her last start. That made her the first stakes-winner for Utley, as well as for Louisville-based Brilliant Racing and Tagg Team, the partnership headed by trainer Greg Foley, wife Sheree and their sons Travis and Alex.

It was no sure thing that Yes It’s Ginger would run at Ellis Park. She also was entered for a turf stakes Wednesday at Indiana Grand. While Foley thought the Indiana race’s five-furlong distance would be even better, and the competition softer, the forecast for rain this coming week helped make the decision to stay put at Ellis.

“When we decided to run here, there were a lot of happy people, the boys from Henderson,” Foley said. “They’re a great group, along with Brilliant, and then our own little group, our family.

“She’s just a gutsy little filly. She gives you all every time you run her. From this time last year, when she broke her maiden over here at Ellis, she’s just done nothing but gotten better all the time. She ran very impressive in Texas last time and again today. She’s just a nice filly.”

Foley also was happy with Skinny Dip, who was making her stakes debut. The goal was to get at least a stakes-placing for the well-bred Into Mischief filly, a mission accomplished.

Yes It’s Ginger now is 6-5-0 in 18 starts, earning $295,511. The $40,000 Ocala 2-year-old purchase in 2018 — the first horse bought by Brilliant Racing— was picked out by Brilliant founding members Natalie Gils and Brandon Stauble.

“She’s been incredibly special to us — being the first one we bought, giving her all that time not knowing if she was going to come back,” Gils said. “… When it came to the point where we had to sell (part of) her, having the Foleys step in, it’s just been a great relationship with them. It was really a blessing in disguise.”

The post ‘It Doesn’t Get Any Better’: Utley Wins Stakes At Home With Yes It’s Ginger appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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