LEXINGTON, KY – Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize successfully defended her title with a late blitze to overtake the heavily-favored Elate in Sunday’s $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
The Spinster is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Blue Prize receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Santa Anita Park this November.
Dismissed at 7/1 odds as she broke from post 2 under Joe Bravo, Blue Prize took back and was last of five heading into the clubhouse turn, though she remained less than 4 lengths from the front. She’s a Julie asserted herself out of gate 4 and set the pace through fractions of :24.25, :48.63, and 1:13.12.
Still running last but well within striking range as she rounded the far turn, Blue Prize tipped out to run four-wide at the top of the stretch and commenced a prolonged rally to the front. The 3/5 favorite Elate took command near the 1/4 pole, but she was quickly overtaken by a charging Blue Prize with a furlong to go.
Inching ahead gradually with every step, the Ignacio Correas IV-trained Blue Prize crossed a 1/2-length clear in a final time of 1:50.30 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“Ignacio had her very keen today,” said Bravo. “He said, ‘Try to keep her quiet. She’s ready to go.’ After she broke in front, she got back underneath me. There were some really good horses in there, but she was able to (have) a stalking trip and watch them. We’ve always said she runs great at a target. She listens to me. I really didn’t have to do too much. It’s fun to be part of a good horse.”
Elate was 3/4 of a length ahead of Dunbar Road, who tried using a rail trip in the stretch but hung late and finished third. Well behind her came She’s a Julie and a non-threatening Vexatious to complete the order of finish.
Blue Prize’s win was her second straight, having taken the Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga on August 18, and improved her record to 22-9-8-3. The Argentinian-bred 5-year-old daughter of Pure Prize has now earned $1,592,253 and will head to the Breeders’ Cup hoping to improve from last year’s fourth-place finish.
“She means a lot to me,” said Correas, himself a native of Argentina. “The horses of my country have made me look good. Thanks to the trainers that trained them before me – they did a great job developing them. To tell you that I thought I was going to beat Elate, I would be lying. I thought she was sitting on a great race. She was coming into form. When we went to Saratoga, we were looking to put her in winning mode. We accomplished that. I thought if (Bravo) could relax her and if she had a target, she’s going to run big. Elate is a great, great mare.”
Blue Prize returned $17.20 to win, $4.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Elate brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Dunbar Road paid $2.20 to show.