LEXINGTON, KY – Given an early uncontested lead, trainer Chad Brown’s A Raving Beauty took the field gate-to-wire to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland.
The First Lady is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with A Raving Beauty receiving an automatic berth in the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking sharply from post 2 under John Velazquez at 3/1 odds, A Raving Beauty posted relatively relaxed fractions of :24.40, :49.11, and 1:13.76 while Valadorna tracked off of her right hip. Dispatching of that foe as she turned for home, A Raving Beauty ran on strongly and had enough left to hold off a late rally from Dona Bruja to win by a head in a final time of 1:37.78 for the 8-furlong event over the good turf surface.
“I thought it worked out pretty good,” Velazquez said. “Obviously, being on the inside, we wanted to be close and wanted to make sure she was settling. We came out running, got our position, and after that, it was pretty good.”
Indian Blessing, bumped and squeezed at the start, finished furiously from the rear to take third by a neck over Crown Walk. Valadorna flattened in the stretch and took fifth by a neck over Insta Erma, who headed the 8/5 favorite Quidura, the winner’s stablemate, for sixth. Off Limits necked out eighth over One Liz to complete the order of finish. La Sardane was scratched.
A Raving Beauty’s win was her third in five starts in 2018 and improved her record to 22-6-3-3. The German-bred 5-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman reached millionaire status after the $240,000 winner’s share pushed her lifetime bankroll to $1,018,555. Her current owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables purchased her privately in 2017 before shipping stateside.
“She took advantage of the inside post and just took control of the race,” said Brown, who watched from the Belmont Park paddock. “I think given last time, the way she fought (the rider) in the pocket, it made sense to give her a clear run today. The idea was to try and get to the lead if we could. It would either be her or Quidura.”
A Raving Beauty returned $8.40 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.60 to show. Dona Bruja brought back $11.40 to place and $7.40 to show, while Indian Blessing paid $8.80 to show.