FRANKLIN, KY – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Moonlight Romance put forth a magical effort Saturday, tracking the early pace before blitzing home strongly to win the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes.
Breaking well from the far outside 10 post as the 8/5 favorite under Jose Ortiz, Moonlight Romance stalked early leader Sovereign Impact through initial fractions of :23.20 and :47.40. Shifting out for her run to the front, the Wesley Ward trainee took command in the stretch and drew clear to win by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:17.91 for the 6 1/2-furlong event over a surface rated good.
“It was perfect,” Ortiz said. “She broke good. She was on the lead for a little bit, then the 4 horse rushed through it. I just sat off her a little bit; when I was ready to make my move, she was there for me the entire time. Nice filly.”
Life Mission took second after making a strong push in the stretch, while Sovereign Impact crossed in third ahead of Blame the Frog, the field’s other filly. Cardinal Coach Mac took fifth by a 1/2-length over Mine Inspector, who necked out sixth over Faraway Kitten. Never a factor, Perfect Answer and Carter Cat completed the order of finish. Mae Never No was scratched.
Tragedy struck in the stretch run when Sovereign Impact tipped off the rail and impeded Chattel, who clipped the heels of the fading pace-setter and went down, fracturing his right shoulder. The $100,000 Skidmore Stakes champion was humanely euthanized, while his jockey, Kendrick Carmouche, was transported to a medical center in Nashville complaining of leg pain. Later, Kentucky Downs officials relayed the report that Carmouche was stable and not in distress. The interference that caused the spill was grounds for Sovereign Impact to be disqualified from third to ninth.
Moonlight Romance’s win was a nice return after finishing a disappointing 13th in the Windsor Castle Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet. The 2-year-old daughter of Liaison now carries a record of 4-2-1-0 with earnings of $358,800.
“I had a lot of confidence in her going to the Royal Ascot race,” Ward said. “Mr. Ramsey has a yearning desire to win over there, and I was second the first year we went with Cannonball. Of all the ones I ever brought since, this is the one I thought would win. There are so many things that can go wrong before, even during the race. But there was a filly that lost a shoe in the paddock, so she was walking behind the gate with 27 other horses for about 20 minutes, and she just sort of got hot and nervous, and the gate opened, and she got left at the gate, and forget it. Fortunately for us today, she rebounded and won a big purse for Mr. Ramsey, and we’re on to the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Turf Sprint) now.”
Moonlight Romance returned $5.20 to win, $3.40 to place, and $3 to show. Life Mission brought back $7.80 to place and $6 to show, while Blame the Frog paid $5 to show.