Keeneland Barn Notes: Sweet Melania Exits Jessamine in “Great Shape”

(Robert and Lawana Low lead Sweet Melania into the winner’s circle after the G2 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

SWEET MELANIA EXITS JPMORGAN CHASE JESSAMINE
ROMP IN GREAT SHAPE

“It looks like she never even ran yesterday.”

That report made clear that Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania was none the worse for wear Thursday morning following her record-breaking 5½-length victory in Wednesday’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2).

Amelia Green, who is overseeing trainer Todd Pletcher’s Keeneland string, was the one who delivered the day-after briefing on the daughter of American Pharoah whose margin of victory was the largest in the race. Green also serves as the filly’s exercise rider.

“I have been getting on her in the mornings since she got to Saratoga (in late June),” said Green, who has been with the Pletcher stable for two years. “From the first day she got here nine days ago, she trained so good. It is the best she ever trained.”

Because Wednesday’s race was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, the victory earned Sweet Melania a spot in the starting gate for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

Pletcher, Keeneland’s all-time leader in stakes victories with 55, has won 10 Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2010 Juvenile Fillies Turf with More Than Real. Pletcher indicated via text that Sweet Melania would remain at Keeneland for now.

 

CHAD BROWN HOLDING THREE ACES FOR SATURDAY’S
QUEEN ELIZABETH II CHALLENGE CUP PRESENTED BY LANE’S END

In the 2018 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), trainer Chad Brown enjoyed a 1-2-3 finish headed by champion Sistercharlie (IRE) to mark a stakes sweep that is believed to be a first for Keeneland.

Such a scenario could play out again Saturday afternoon in the 36th running of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) for 3-year-old fillies. Brown will send out morning-line favorite Cambier Parc (8-5) and co-third choices Regal Glory(6-1) and Café Americano (6-1).

“You like to keep them separate, but when you get to a Grade 1, you have to give them a chance to step up,” said Whit Beckman, who is overseeing Brown’s Keeneland string and had sent the trio out for half-mile dirt works last Saturday.

OXO Equine’s Cambier Parc and Peter Brant’s Café Americano met once before in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) and finished third and sixth, respectively.

Beckman has been with the fillies all through their careers and has watched them develop.

“We always thought a lot of Cambier Parc,” Beckman said. “She started out on dirt and then moved to turf, and she has separated herself as one of the top 3-year-old turf fillies this year.”

John Velazquez, who was aboard for her victory in the Del Mar Oaks (G1), has the call Saturday as he shoots for a record-extending fifth victory in the race.

Café Americano, who did not race as a 2-year-old, has won three of four starts with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard for all her victories. Ortiz will be in the saddle Saturday.

“She broke her maiden nicely at Gulfstream and then she really stepped up at Arlington when she won the Pucker Up (G3),” Beckman said.

Paul Pompa’s Regal Glory brings a three-race win streak into Saturday’s race with Luis Saez, who has been aboard for those victories, in the saddle.

“We always thought a lot of her too and she always shows up,” Beckman said of the Animal Kingdom filly, who has compiled a 7-5-2-0 mark and has a runner-up finish here in last spring’s Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association.

 

PRINCESA CAROLINA SEEKS FIRST GRADED TRIUMPH
IN QUEEN ELIZABETH II PRESENTED BY LANE’S END

Three Chimneys Farm’s homebred Princesa Carolina will seek her first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1), and trainer Kenny McPeek says she is ready for the challenge. In her most recent start, the Tapit filly scored her first stakes victory with an impressive 1½-length triumph in the Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks on Sept. 8 at Kentucky Downs.

“Her last race was so powerful that I think she deserves a chance at this level,” McPeek said. “She is a big, strong filly and I think the farther (the distance) the better. I wish the distance was even longer.”

The 1 1/8-mile turf test has attracted a field of nine 3-year-old fillies and is carded as the ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. post.

Prior to the Dueling Grounds Oaks, Princesa Carolina (pronounced Caroleena) was runner-up to QE II entrant Café Americano in the Pucker Up (G3) at Arlington Park. She has been second or third in three other stakes. Stabled at Keeneland in McPeek’s Rice Road division, Princesa Carolina tuned up for the QE II with a strong gallop Sunday on Keeneland’s turf course.

“We wanted something long and (relatively) slow,” McPeek said. “She didn’t need a fast workout. She went at a two-minute (for a mile) clip.”

Last year, McPeek was represented in the QE II by Princess Warrior, who finished fourth as the longest shot on the board. In 2017, McPeek nearly earned his first victory in the race when Daddys Lil Darling was beaten a half-length in finishing second.

“It would be big to win,” McPeek said. “We would love to check that box. And Princesa Carolina always gives a big effort.”

 

SATURDAY CARD FEATURES CROSS COUNTRY PICK 5

On Saturday, Keeneland will offer the Cross Country Pick 5 wager in conjunction with the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

NYRA will host the wager, which will have the standard NYRA Pick 5 takeout (15%) and wager minimum (50 cents). There is a mandatory payout of the entire pool on Saturday.

 

The race order and approximate post times (all times ET) are as follows:

Leg A: Belmont Race 8 (4:40 p.m.)

Leg B: Keeneland Race 8 (4:57 p.m.)

Leg C: Belmont Race 9 – Sands Point (G2) (5:13 p.m.)

Leg D: Keeneland Race 9 – Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) (5:30 p.m.)

Leg E:  Keeneland Race 10 (6:03 p.m.)

Click here for more information.

 

HOTSHOT ANNA RIDES HOT STREAK
INTO BUFFALO TRACE FRANKLIN COUNTY

Hugh Robertson’s Hotshot Anna has been a model of high-quality consistency in her past 10 starts dating back to April 2018 with seven wins and three second-place finishes. She brings that consistency into Friday’s $150,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County (G3).

“She gets here today from Hawthorne,” said Mac Robertson on Thursday, the day before he saddles the 5-year-old mare for his father on Friday for the 5½-furlong grass test.

Hotshot Anna has done the bulk of her damage in those 10 starts on all-weather surfaces and in her most recent start she scored her second consecutive victory in the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2).

“She has been turned out a couple of times and came back better each time,” Mac Robertson said. “She has tremendous rateable speed and that makes her (a strong contender). If they go too slow, she will be breathing down their necks. They go too fast, she can sit four or five lengths off the pace.”

The Buffalo Trace Franklin County will mark the Keeneland debut for Hotshot Anna.

“Dad was thinking about running her on the dirt here, but we had (multiple graded stakes-placed) Amy’s Challenge ready to roll at the time and that was that,” Robertson said.

Hotshot Anna is cataloged to the Book 1 opening session of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, is consigning the mare as a broodmare prospect.

APPRENTICE JOCKEY ELLO EAGER FOR FIRST CAREER VICTORY

After completing his studies at the North American Racing Academy in Lexington and honing his skills as an exercise rider, Jerick Ello began his jockey career last month at Ellis Park. On Wednesday he finished eighth in Keeneland’s fourth race in his second career start.

At 40-1, Ello’s mount, Marion County Farm’s Miss Perfecta trained by Tracey Glover, was last early before he steered her past rivals to finish four lengths behind the winner. Ello’s face was covered in mud but he was all smiles after the race.

“It was amazing,” Ello said of the experience. “There were so many people out watching and I could feel the energy. It was fun to be at this level and riding with really good riders.”

Ello compared race riding to his previous profession as an Army paratrooper.

“You still get the same adrenaline rush and once you go through it you think, ‘Wow this is amazing,’ ” he said.

On Friday, Ello has his next chance to feel the energy of guiding a winner. He is scheduled to ride William Jackson’s Inmyfathersimagefor trainer Christopher Jackson in the 10th race.

GALLOPING OUT

A racing rarity occurred twice Wednesday, thanks to Anthony Stephen. He rode two horses he also trains: Sea Shark in the first race and Babeswildweekend in the eighth race. Both horses finished sixth.

 

UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES

$150,000 Sycamore (G3) (Entries taken Saturday; race Thursday, Oct. 17) – Focus Group (trainer Chad Brown), Marzo (Mike Maker), Space Mountain (Maker), Zumurudee (Mike Stidham). Possible: Postulation (Michael Matz).

$150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3) (Entries taken Sunday; race Friday, Oct. 18) – Blowout (GB) (Chad Brown), Carnival Colors (GB) (Mike Stidham), Catch a Bid (Brown), Hard Legacy (Norm Casse), Maxim Rate (Simon Callaghan), Turf War (Brown), Winning Envelope (Chris Block), Winter Sunset (Wayne Catalano).

$250,000 Lexus Raven (G2) (Entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 16; race Saturday, Oct. 19) – Bell’s the One (Neil Pessin), Needs Supervision (Jeremiah O’Dwyer), Oxy Lady (Jack Sisterson).

$125,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) (Entries taken Thursday, Oct. 17; race Sunday, Oct. 20) – Gaining (GB) (Brad Cox), Lafta(Patrick Biancone), Pantsonfire (IRE) (Richard Baltas).

FALL MEET SPECIAL EVENTS

All Year

Official Keeneland Tours – A variety of guided walking tours showcase Keeneland’s racing and sales operations. Click here for more information.

Through March 2020

The Keeneland Library Presents “A Day in the Life: Volume I” – This new exhibit features the work of early Turf photographer John C. Hemment. The Keeneland Library is home to the largest known surviving body of work of Hemment, a photographer during the late 19th and early 20th century. A virtual counterpart of the Hemment exhibit is at keenelandlibrary.omeka.net/exhibits. Celebrating its 80thanniversary this year, the Library is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Oct. 10

Make-A-Wish Day – For 12 years, Keeneland and local Thoroughbred farms and organizations have granted wishes for deserving children of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Children and their families will receive a VIP experience at Keeneland that includes presenting a trophy after each race and meeting jockeys. Racing fans may make a donation to Make-A-Wish in the Wishing Well near the Keeneland Paddock. This year’s sponsors are Ashford Stud, Claiborne Farm, Denali Stud, Flaxman Holdings/Frizzy Foundation, Gainesway Farm, Godolphin, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Horse Country, Keeneland, Lane’s End Farm, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Shadwell Farm, Spendthrift Farm, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, Stonestreet Farm, Taylor Made Stallions and WKYT.

The Keeneland Shop presents Milliners Corner with Dorfman Pacific.

The East Gate Shop, an auxiliary location of The Keeneland Shop in the Saddling Paddock Chalet, on Wednesdays and Thursday during the Fall Meet is taking $5 off a hat purchase (offer not available at The Keeneland Shop and Milliners Corner or at satellite locations at Wagering Central and the finish line). Located on the first floor of the Saddling Paddock Chalet – in a corner near the East Gate Grandstand entrance – the East Gate Shop is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. ET until 30 minutes after the final race.(Re-entry to the track is available through the East Gate entrance.)

 

Friday, Oct. 11

Big Blue Day at the Races – Keeneland will welcome Big Blue Nation the day before the University of Kentucky football team hosts the University of Arkansas. UK students, alumni, faculty and staff will receive free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand seating with valid UK IDs, and other special activities throughout the day will help fans cheer for the Wildcats.

 

Buffalo Trace Giveaway – On the day the Buffalo Trace Franklin County is the featured race, fans can enter to win a VIP Buffalo Trace Distillery Experience. The first 2,000 people to register will receive a free Buffalo Trace drawstring bag with a pair of Buffalo Trace sunglasses.

 

The Hill – Keeneland’s official tailgate lot features a jumbo screen to watch live racing and football, wagering booths, live music, local food trucks and free shuttles to the Grandstand.

 

$200,000-guaranteed Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG.

 

The Keeneland Shop presents Milliners Corner with Dorfman Pacific and Forme Millinery.


Saturday, Oct. 12

 

Sunrise Trackside – Families, out-of-town guests, longtime Keeneland fans and others will enjoy spending a morning at the track before the races begin. Watch racehorses train over the track and enjoy Breakfast With the Works and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.); take photos with a life-size cutout of Secretariat (7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7:30-9:30 a.m.); free guided tours of the grounds (7:30-10 a.m.) and a demonstration by the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center in the Paddock (9 a.m.).

 

Secretariat Festival – Keeneland is the new home of this annual event that celebrates the beloved Triple Crown winner. The Secretariat Bronze Monument created by Jocelyn Russell and commissioned by the City of Lexington – and set to be permanently located in the roundabout at Old Frankfort Pike and Alexandria Drive in Lexington – will be unveiled outside the main entrance of the Keeneland Sales Pavilion at 10:45 a.m. Click here for more information about the festival. Events in the Sales Pavilion will take place from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.


The Hill – Keeneland’s official tailgate lot features a jumbo screen to watch live racing and football, wagering booths, live music, local food trucks and free shuttles to the Grandstand.

Keeneland Fall Challenge handicapping contest. Click here for more information and to register.

The Keeneland Shop presents Milliners Corner with Dorfman.

 

$300,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 Presented by TVG and Cross Country Pick 5.

Sunday, Oct. 13

Kids Club Family Day – The Keeneland Kids Club is for fans 12 and younger. A day at the races for members and their families will include free general admission, access to reserved Grandstand seating and special activities including taking photos with a life-size cutout of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Secretariat Festival – This annual event celebrates the beloved Triple Crown winner. Click here for more information. Events in Keeneland’s Sales Pavilion take place from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Fall BCBC-NHC
handicapping tournament – The tournament, which drew a record 171 entries in 2018, will award as many as five spots to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita and eight spots to the National Handicapping Challenge in Las Vegas in 2020. Clickhere for more information and to register.

The Keeneland Shop presents Milliners Corner with Dorfman.

FALL MEET LEADERS

 

Through Oct. 9 (4 days of 17-day season)

 

 

JockeyStartsWins2nd3rdPurses
Javier Castellano24845$954,869
Jose Ortiz30662$1,002,627
Florent Geroux22441$326,560
Corey Lanerie23422$203,135
Joel Rosario15233$543,313
Julien Leparoux24243$329,658

 

TrainerStartsWins2nd3rdPurses
Chad Brown8301$402,870
Mark Casse16241$463,217
Mike Maker11232$197,242
Brad Cox9220$397,505
Brendan Walsh6210$405,206
Arnaud Delacour5210$115,855
Kenny McPeek18202$91,788
Ignacio Correas IV7201$327,245
Peter Miller3200$187,972

 

OwnerWins
Godolphin (Mohammed Al Maktoum et al)2

 

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

More From The Pressbox Staff