LEXINGTON, KY – Debby Oxley’s homebred Heavenly Love took the lead midway through the far turn and never looked back, romping home in a big way to win Friday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland.
The Alcibiades is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Heavenly Love receiving an automatic berth in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar on Saturday, November 4.
Breaking cleanly from post 9 under Julien Leparoux, Heavenly Love closely tracked the early pace set by her stablemate, Dancing, through splits of :23.94, :48.38, and 1:13.81. Shortly after completing 6 furlongs, Heavenly Love decided that she was done playing follow the leader and blew past Dancing, holding a 3-length lead by the top of the stretch. The race was all over from that point, as the Mark Casse-trained daughter of Malibu Moon cruised home under a hand ride, crossing the wire in a final time of 1:45.32 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“We had a great trip, sitting second (early in the race),” Leparoux said. “She exploded, but we still had some left. When she gets to the lead, she kinda looks around. She’s still a little baby, but she’s a very nice filly. She impressed me at Kentucky Downs when she won (a maiden race by 5 lengths on September 17). She repeated it today.”
Princess Warrior took second, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Dancing faded in the stretch but fought well to keep third, with Sassy Sienna crossing a head in front of Kelly’s Humor for fourth. Bet She Wins, Caroline the Great, Arabella Bella, Over Thinking, and Pacific Gale completed the order of finish.
The win was the second in three career starts for Heavenly Love. The $240,000 winner’s share increased her career earnings to $322,000.
“Awesome performance,” said David Carroll, assistant to Casse. “She trained beautifully. Great ride by Julien, and we’re so happy for the Oxleys; they’re unbelievable owners.
“I’m sure Mark and Mr. Oxley and Mrs. Oxley will talk about (going to the Breeders’ Cup). As long as she comes back good, I don’t see why not.”
Heavenly Love returned $13.40 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4.40 to show. Princess Warrior brought back $3.40 to place and $3 to show, while Dancing paid $6.60 to show.