Butterbean, shown winning the Panthers Stakes
It was almost a fairy tale day for trainer Kenny McPeek, who won stakes at three different tracks on Saturday, led by Creative Causeway’s victory in the Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational at Belmont Park. Irish-bred Semble Juste won the Mari Hulman George Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis, where McPeek also sent out the second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks.
McPeek’s final stakes win of the day came with a last-to-first triumph by Butterbean – named by the trainer’s daughter Annie for a fairy who is the title character in the Nickelodeon television show “Butterbean’s Cafe” – in the Grade 3, $225,000 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.
Ridden by Glenn Corbett, Butterbean – a 3-year-old filly by Klimt out of Letting Go, by Johannesburg – put in a devastating move from the three-eighths pole to the wire to race past 7-10 favorite Falconet at the top of the stretch and win by three lengths. She covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.72 and paid $9.80 as the second choice. Falconet held second, with pacesetter Free Like a Girl third and Candy Raid fourth in the field of eight.
The win was the third in a row from eight starts, with four seconds, for Butterbean, who races for McPeek’s Magdalena Racing and William Klimashousky. The Iowa Oaks winner was bred in Kentucky by Woodgate Farm and sold to McPeek for $22,000 from the consignment of Small Batch Sales at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Butterbean broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on May 27 in her sixth start, then came back on June 11 to win the Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows, also coming from last to win going away by 5 3/4 lengths.
In the Iowa Oaks, Butterbean broke well, then was outrun to the first turn as Free Like a Girl established the lead and set fractions of :23.50, :47.18 and 1:11.57 for the opening six furlongs. Falconet tracked in second and moved to the front on the turn, but Corbett had the leaders measured as Butterbean quickly passed rivals, seizing the lead at the top of the stretch and drawing off for the win.
In two other stakes later on the card, the $250,000 Iowa Derby was won in an upset by Ain’t Life Grand for Kelly Von Hemel and jockey Edwin Gonzalez, while Hall of Famer Javier Castellano was up in time to beat Fleetridge in the Grade 3, $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker with Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Officiating.