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Yuugiri won the 2023 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Rodolphe Brisset trainee was headed by Wicked Halo but fought back late to defeat her familiar foe.
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In the 43rd running of the Thoroughbred Club of America, Yuugiri and Wicked Halo hooked up at the top of stretch and dueled through the lane with Yuugiri getting her nose in front at the finish.
Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tsunebumi Yoshihara, trained by Rodolphe Brisset and ridden by Flavien Prat, Yuugiri completed the 6 furlongs over a fast main track in 1:10.44.
The win gave Brisset his first Keeneland stakes victory, and Yuugiri earned a spot in the starting gate for the $1 million PNC Bank Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
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Yuugiri and Happy Soul dueled through early fractions of :22.12 and :45.48 with Wicked Halo and Tyler Gaffalione lurking just behind. On the turn, Gaffalione sent Wicked Halo after the leaders and the race was on.
Wicked Halo claimed a narrow advantage in the upper stretch only to have Yuugiri fight back on the inside through the lane and prevail at the finish.
Yuugiri is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Shackleford out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Yuzuru. Today’s win marks the second graded stakes victory for Yuugiri, who improved her record to 14-7-2-1 and increased her earnings to $1,190,585 with Saturday’s $212,660 check.
Yuugiri returned $5.76, $3.18 and $2.60. Wicked Halo, sent off as the slight favorite, returned $2.88 and $2.36 and finished 5 lengths in front of Last Leaf, who paid $3.80 to show under Luis Saez.
It was another length back to Fire On Time, who was followed in order by Happy Soul, Static Fire and Be Like Water.
Rodolphe Brisset (winning trainer of Yuugiri)
“I don’t have to describe much (about the grit this filly has); I mean, she just showed it. She has a big heart and followed it to the wire and got her nose down. This one is sweet, you know? It’s my first stakes (win) at Keeneland. It feels good. We’re home here; we love Keeneland. To be able to win one like this here, it means the world.”
On pressure ramping up toward the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint-G1:
“We’ve been in the game long enough. We know how to act ourselves – I mean, there’s a little pressure – but we’ll take care of her first, make a plan and see what happens. It’s a big one for sure and we may be coming.”
Flavien Prat (winning rider)
“She was really game today. When Wicked Halo went by us and took the lead, it felt like (Yuugiri) wasn’t done yet and was just getting going. So I just kept pedaling and she was very game and brave.”
Tyler Gaffalione (rider of runner-up Wicked Halo)
“Trip was great. Unfortunate to lose, but my filly tried hard.”
Luis Saez (rider of third-place finisher Last Leaf)
“Good race. The filly tried, she ran her race. The ones that finished first and second are very good, very tough. We are content with third. She ran a tremendous race.”
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