LEXINGTON, KY – An ultra-game Guarana fought back along the rail in the final stages to give trainer Chad Brown his 100th career Grade 1 victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Madison Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking from post 5 under Jose Ortiz as the 1/2 favorite, Guarana cleared her inner foes and held a slim lead over Mia Mischief heading down the backstretch.
Halfway through the far turn, Mia Mischief ranged up and emerged at the top of the stretch with a slim lead. She looked home free for a moment, but Ortiz re-engaged Guarana at the 1/8 pole with left-handed encouragement.
Surging bravely along the rail, Guarana outkicked Mia Mischief in the final stages to win by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:21.70 for the 7-furlong fast main track sprint.
“It unfolded how I feared, with Mia Mischief having the better post on the outside of us and being able to hound us a bit,” Brown said. “I thought turning for home that the post really did us in this race, and I was starting to get a little disappointed, but I could see at the 1/16 pole that she was finding her stride again and I think 7 (furlongs) is maybe a tick far for the other filly. We were able to come back on her.”
Bell’s the One improved from her mid-pack position to take third by a 1/2-length over Wildwood’s Beauty, who necked out Sally’s Curlin for fourth.
Unique Factor, Amy’s Challenge, and Diamond Crazy completed the order of finish. Princess Causeway was a late scratch at post time.
Guarana’s win was her third at the Grade 1 level, including scores in the Acorn Stakes and the CCA Oaks last summer. The 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly improved her record to 6-5-1-0 with $1,078,268 earned for Three Chimneys Farm (who also bred her) and Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings.
“It’s a whole body of work from 12 1/2 years now of training,” said Brown when reflecting on his milestone. “It has to do with my team of co-workers, owners, and horses, both present and past. They all contributed to the 100 Grade 1s. God willing, if everything stays intact, we’ll work on the next 100, but we’re going to enjoy this for now.”
Guarana returned $3 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Mia Mischief brought back $5 to place and $3 to show, while Bell’s the One paid $2.60 to show.