LEXINGTON, KY – Semaphore Racing and Homewrecker Racing’s Sailor’s Valentine put away pace-setting Someday Soon in the upper stretch and then held off a late surge from Daddys Lil Darling by a 1/2-length to win the 80th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Central Bank Ashland for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Keeneland.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally and ridden by Corey Lanerie, the 22-1 Sailor’s Valentine covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:45.54.
It was the second Central Bank Ashland victory for Kenneally, who won with Bushfire in 2006 for Homewrecker Racing.
Lanerie became the second rider to win the Central Bank Ashland in consecutive years. After winning last year on Weep No More, Lanerie joins Bill Shoemaker as a back-to-back winner. Shoemaker won in 1981 on Truly Bound and in 1982 with Blush With Pride.
Lanerie also won the race in 2009 with Hooh Why and joins Shoemaker, Don Brumfield, Randy Romero, Shane Sellers, and Mike Smith as the only riders to win the race three times.
The victory was worth $300,000 and also gave Sailor’s Valentine 100 points toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks, to be run on May 5 at Churchill Downs. The win all but guarantees her a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Oaks that is limited to the top 14 points-earners that pass the entry box. Daddys Lil Darling picked up 40 points for second to boost her total to 60 and a likely spot in the Oaks.
Someday Soon led the field of eight through fractions of :24.49, :49.32, and 1:14.06, with Sailor’s Valentine in closest pursuit. In the stretch, Sailor’s Valentine took over and had enough left to thwart the late bid of Daddys Lil Darling. Someday Soon held on for third, while Tapped was another half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Summer Luck, Pretty City Dancer, and Meanie Irenie. The favored Elate did not finish.
A graduate of Keeneland’s 2015 September Yearling Sale, Sailor’s Valentine is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Mizzen Mast out of the Tale of the Cat mare Sortilege. She has now earned $359,214 with a record of 6-2-2-0.
Sailor’s Valentine returned $46.40, $16.80, and $9. Daddys Lil Darling, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $6.60 and $4.40, while Someday Soon paid $9.80 to show under Jose Lezcano.
Trainer Eddie Kenneally, Sailor’s Valentine: “We knew she liked the track. She won here in October very impressively (in her career debut on October 8). She came back here in late March and had a really good work over the track. We just decided we’d take a shot in the Ashland – mainly because she loves this track – and this is a very, very good track.”
On whether Sailor’s Valentine will race next in the Kentucky Oaks: “Certainly, if everything goes well.”
Jockey Corey Lanerie, Sailor’s Valentine: “I hadn’t been on her (in a while). Coming into the race, he (Eddie Kenneally) said, ‘She’s doing phenomenal. I look for her to run a big race. She’s going maybe to be a longshot, but she’s not going to run like one.’ He was right.”
Jockey Robby Albarado, Daddys Lil Darling: “It was a phenomenal trip. (The pace) was slow up front and that didn’t help me any, but she finished up well, and I’m proud of her. I feel like the further (the distance), the better with her. She’s a nice filly.”
Trainer Kenny McPeek Daddys Lil Darling: “She ran a great race. Robby did a great job on her. He just sat still and waited and waited. He just couldn’t run them down. He said that if the (race were a bit longer), he probably wins by two (lengths). But we’re pleased. This is about where we wanted to be. Of course, you want to win, but she’s a special filly. I’m sure she’ll go to the Kentucky Oaks – no doubt.”
Jockey Jose Lezcano, Someday Soon: “I had a very good trip. She broke right on top, and when I asked, she gave me her best. She tried hard. She did everything right. She is a very trying filly.”
Trainer Will VanMeter, Someday Soon: “We are really proud of her. The race played out the way we thought it would when we were handicapping before we entered. I am not sure about the Kentucky Oaks – that is up to the owner. I doubt she would get this kind of race setup in the Oaks, but if we are eligible (based on points), we might take a shot.”