Trainer Mike McCarthy looked at the odds board prior to the Nov. 2 Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), compared it to what he was seeing from the bay filly he led over, and figured either his charge had been pulling a fast one on him in recent weeks or the betting public was about to have some regrets about their pre-race assessments.
While he certainly didn’t expect Vibrance to carry favoritism for the 1 1/16-mile test, the 35-1 longshot designation she took with her into the Churchill Downs starting gate seemed a bit much considering she had just run second to the filly deemed the overwhelming favorite. Though a Breeders’ Cup upset eluded her, the daughter of Violence nonetheless proved her quality by overcoming a less-than-ideal setup to finish third—missing out on place honors by half a length.
In what will be the filly’s third consecutive try against top-level company, McCarthy is expecting a similar theme to continue this weekend. He won’t be surprised to see higher-profile competition better supported. He will also be the least shocked person on the grounds if his filly comes away with more proof of how much upside he has to work with.
Vibrance aims to throw a splash of gravy on what has already been a career season for McCarthy when she faces five challengers in the $300,000 Starlet Stakes (G1) Dec. 8 at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Donna Daniell, and Jim Daniell, Vibrance was part of the five-horse contingent McCarthy brought into his first Breeders’ Cup since going out on his own full-time in 2014. Though it was City of Light who gave the barn its first victory in the World Championships with his emphatic score in the Dirt Mile (G1), Vibrance put in a more-than-respectable run behind race winner Jaywalk in the Juvenile Fillies, overcoming getting stuck inside to finish ahead of favored Bellafina—who had bested her in the Chandelier Stakes (G1).
“I thought 35-1 was a little out of whack,” McCarthy said of Vibrance’s Breeders’ Cup odds. “I thought she ran very good in the Chandelier. She was a decent second to a filly who was the likely favorite on paper for the Juvenile Fillies, so I thought we were in there with better than a puncher’s chance. She had trained very well at Churchill and … she ran her race.
“We didn’t have the best trips, tucked down inside. I don’t think we could have won that day, but I think we could have been a clear-cut second. So we’ll try and go a little better this weekend.”