LEXINGTON, KY – John C. Oxley’s La Coronel reaffirmed her liking of the Keeneland turf course by breezing to a 3 1/4-length victory over Morticia to win the 29th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Appalachian Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies before a Thursday afternoon crowd of 10,981.
With the victory, Oxley earned a Keeneland Tray in recognition of his eighth graded stakes win at the track. The Keeneland Tray is part of Keeneland’s signature Milestone Trophy Program. Only 19 other owners in Keeneland history have achieved this level of success.
“If anybody deserves it, he deserves it. There was a lot of pressure,” trainer Mark Cassed said with a laugh. “I was a little nervous about that. I’m glad he got it.”
Ridden by Florent Geroux, La Coronel covered the mile on a firm turf course in 1:37.12 for her second victory in as many tries at Keeneland. Last fall, she won the Grade 3 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine by 4 1/4 lengths.
“She broke very sharply today,” said Geroux. “She put me in a great spot right away. I just tried to nurse her around there. When (I asked her), she surged like a lion. She just jumped in there and ate them up.”
The victory was worth $75,000 and increased La Coronel’s earnings to $259,615 with a record of 7-3-1-0.
Like a Hurricane and Morticia led the field of 11 through fractions of :23.89, :49.13, and 1:13.82, with La Coronel sitting just behind the leading pair while getting a ground-saving trip.
At the head of the stretch, La Coronel split Like a Hurricane and Morticia, quickly took command, and never was threatened. Morticia held on for second by a head over Proctor’s Ledge.
Casse and Geroux earned their second consecutive Appalachian victory, having triumphed together with Catch a Glimpse last year.
Only Mike Stidham in 2000 and 2001 with Impending Bear and Bold Answer had gone back-to-back as a trainer. John Velazquez is the only other rider to repeat in the race, doing so with Audacious Chloe (2007) and Alwajeeha (2008).
“She’s an amazing horse,” Casse said. “I’ve gotta thank the Oxleys for so many great things. I have to thank our farm team. This filly had double knee surgery (after the sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November), and for her to come back and do what she just did … it took a lot of people and a lot of hard work. We’re really proud of her.”
A Keeneland sales graduate, La Coronel is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Colonel John out of the Chester House mare Listen.
Oxley’s other filly in the race, Dream Dancing, finished another 1/2-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Bellavais, favored New Money Honey, Lull, Journey Home, Purely a Dream, Coasted, and Like a Hurricane.
La Coronel returned $9.40, $5.20, and $3.60. Morticia brought back $28.40 and $13.80, while Proctor’s Ledge paid $8 to show.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, Morticia: “She’s very fast. I’m very proud of her and how she relaxed today. The filly that won is a very nice filly, but my filly kept trying the whole way around.”
Jockey Corey Lanerie, Proctor’s Ledge: “On the first turn, I was mid-pack. The trip was pretty eventful. It was never really smooth. We were kind of bundled up like sardines, bouncing off each other. I never really found room. I had to kind of start up on her at the 3/16 and just started drifting out. Once I got room, I thought I’d still win, but the wire came too fast. She’s such a classy filly.”
Trainer Chad Brown, New Money Honey: “I am disappointed. She had been training so well. We’ll bring her back to Belmont Park and race her there on a course we know she likes. I can’t use the layoff as an excuse because she had been training so well and our team is so good at getting them ready. I thought the winner ran a terrific race. (Jockey Javier Castellano) just didn’t have any horse turning for home.”
Jockey Javier Castellano, New Money Honey: “I had a good trip, but it looked on paper like there would be a little more speed. It was not a good setup for me today with the slow pace. When I asked her to run, she just didn’t respond.”