Shortleaf Stable’s Benner Island earned her first graded stakes victory by surviving a heated stretch battle to win the Eight Belles Presented by Kentucky Trailer (G2) for 3-year-old fillies on May 5 Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.
Shortleaf purchased Benner Island for $200,000 at Keeneland’s 2015 September Yearling Sale from the consignment of Burleson Farms, agent. The daughter of Speightstown was bred by Mercedes Stable in Kentucky.
The 3-1 favorite trained by Brad Cox, Benner Island broke sharply from the rail in the Eight Belles, and kept that position throughout the 7-furlong test, turning back pressure from Lovely Bernadette through the first half, and then Golden Mischief and a late-closing Union Strike. She won on a head bob in 1:24.28 over the sloppy track with Javier Castellano aboard.
The victory was her third win in eight outings. She ran second as a freshman in the listed Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes at Arlington Park last year, and was second in the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park this spring.