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Julien Leparoux opened the Kentucky Derby Day stakes card with a victory aboard Eddie Kenneally-trained Buckleupbuttercup in the $100,000 Eight Belles (GIII) for three-year old fillies on the sloppy main track.

Swinging five wide at the top of the stretch, the Avalon Farms filly covered the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:29.49 to best Visavis by 6 1/4 lengths.

Leparoux said his mount took to the slop.

"She loved it," he said. "The trainer just told me to get her to relax behind them as much as I can andshe finished good."

Kenneally agreed, saying, "I knew she would like the slop and there was a lot of pace in the race. Julien was patient."

Conditioner Steve Asmussen's Hot Dixie Chick ridden by Robby Albarado was the overwhelming favorite, but finished a disappointing third-- a length and a half behind Visavis.

Albarado discounted the track conditions affect on his mount's performance.

"She tried; she fired it in when I asked her," he said. "She just wasn't good enough today. The track is good. It's not a problem."

The home-bred daughter of Najan our of Golden Borders, Buckleupbuttercup increased her earnings by $67,261.

The filly returned $17.80, $6.80 and $3.60. Visavis paid $6.00 and $3.40, and Hot Dixie Chick paid $2.20 to show.

 

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