LEXINGTON, KY – The world-travelling 3-year-old filly Lady Aurelia cruised to a 2 1/2-length victory a field of older fillies and mares in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes on Saturday.
Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by John Velazquez, Lady Aurelia covered the 5 1/2 furlongs on a firm turf course in 1:02.40, a clocking that was just off the stakes record of 1:02.23 set by West Ocean in 2010.
“I was concerned with that much speed in the race, I didn’t want to get hooked up head to head,” Velazquez said. “She broke a touch slow, the other horses went, I gave her a little tug, and she came right back to my hand. She relaxed really well behind horses, and at the quarter pole, when I asked her, she responded right away.”
Lady Aurelia raced in fifth place early as Ruby Notion set the pace. On the far turn, Lady Aurelia began to move, entered the stretch five wide, and quickly blew past her rivals to win for the fourth time in five starts.
“She did everything great,” Ward said. “That is what we wanted to do: get her back, get her to settle, and make a run.”
It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Nobody’s Fault and rider Jose Valdivia, Jr., who took second from Ruby Notion by a nose at the line.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better trip,” said Valdivia, Jr. “I just got run down by a multiple group winner. I am very happy with the way my filly ran.”
Another 1 1/4 lengths back was Triple Chelsea, who was followed in order by Miss Katie Mae, Rapid Rhythm, Exaggerated, Pretty Perfection, Lots o’ Lex, Bibby, and Lajatico.
“I had a beautiful trip, nice inside trip,” said Robby Albarado, Triple Chelsea’s jockey. “I called on her and she tried hard. We just got outrun today.”
The victory was worth $60,000 and increased Lady Aurelia’s earnings to $429,668 in a young career that began last April with a maiden debut win over the Keeneland main track. She was named the European champion 2-year-old filly of 2016 after winning Group 1 and 2 races, her only loss last coming out in a Group 1 race when she finished third.
“She’s a wonderful filly,” Ward said. “She has a big future – excited to get back over to England to (Royal) Ascot (where she won the Group 2 Queen Mary last year). She’ll train right here at Keeneland until we go.”
A Keeneland sales graduate, Lady Aurelia is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Forest Wildcat mare D’ Wildcat Speed.
“It is a big advantage that she has trained essentially her whole career here,” Ward said. “She was settled on a hot day with a big crowd. A lot of fillies might be apprehensive when they ship somewhere, but (being home) made a big difference today. This sets her up perfect (to return to Royal Ascot).”
Lady Aurelia returned $4, $3.60, and $2.60. Nobody’s Fault brought back $27 and $11.80, while Ruby Notion paid $6 to show.