LEXINGTON, KY – John C. Oxley’s La Coronel set a dream trip under jockey Jose Lezcano to wire the field in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking cleanly from post 6, La Coronel posted moderate fractions of :23.81, :48.60, and 1:13.47 while never being pressured. Straightening up as the field exited the far turn, Lezcano urged La Coronel along to hold off the late rally from Daddys Lil Darling, crossing the finish line first by a 1/2 length in a final time of 1:48.99 for the 1 1/8-mile turf race.
“I wanted to go to the lead,” Lezcano said. “She was very comfortable there. Last time I rode her (in the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park), she jumped a little bit early into the bit, but after that she relaxed on the backside. Today, she broke and was very comfortable (in the lead), so I let her be. She was comfortable the whole way around.”
Daddys Lil Darling was a clear second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Madam Dancealot. Uni nosed out Beau Recall for fourth, while her stablemate, the favored New Money Honey, nosed out Dream Dancing for sixth. Proctor’s Ledge, Con Te Partiro, and Unforgetable Filly completed the order of finish. Wuheida was scratched.
Now a perfect three-for-three in her career at Keeneland (including April’s Grade 3 Appalachian and last year’s Grade 3 Jessamine), the Mark Casse-trained La Coronel improved her record to 12-5-2-0. The 3-year-old daughter of Colonel John now has earnings of $754,844.
“It was a fantastic race,” said David Carroll, assistant to Casse. “Jose rode her beautifully. All the credit goes to (Casse’s son and assistant, Norm). We’re just so happy for the Oxleys and for her to get a Grade 1 win and redeem herself. Some people might have doubted her, but she showed her true colors today. We couldn’t be any happier.”
La Coronel returned $12.20 to win, $7 to place, and $4.80 to show. Daddys Lil Darling brought back $10.40 to place and $6.80 to show, while Madam Dancealot paid $8.60 to show.