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LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Peter Miller’s Spiced Perfection cooked up a whole pot of magic after outdueling a very game Amy’s Challenge to win Saturday’s Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
Breaking from post 5 under Javier Castellano at 9/2 odds, Spiced Perfection closely stalked Amy’s Challenge on the front end through initial fractions of :22.56 and :45.53. Beginning to advance alongside the pacesetter’s outside in the far turn, Spiced Perfection turned for home and initially looked like a sure-fire winner. Amy’s Challenge didn’t agree and dug in gamely along the inside.
The two fillies battled fiercely the length of the stretch, but in the shadow of the wire, Spiced Perfection forged her way ahead before crossing with a neck advantage in a final time of 1:23.49 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“It looked easy, but it’s not easy,” Castellano said. “Had to work hard a bit. When this filly passed the other horse (Amy’s Challenge), she thought ‘OK, I’m done.’ Had to ride her a little hard to keep the rhythm. I liked the way she did it. Very professional. Wonderful filly.”
Determined in defeat, Amy’s Challenge was 6 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Late Night Pow Wow, who last out had defeated Spiced Perfection in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park. America’s Tale just nosed out the 9/5 favorite Shamrock Rose, who after being forced to run wide throughout came up empty in the stretch. Divine Queen necked out Sultry for sixth, with Create a Star completing the order of finish. Tragedy struck mid-race when Cathedral Reader was pulled up with an injury and had to be humanely euthanized.
Spiced Perfection’s win was first since joining Miller’s barn at the beginning of the year and was her second in a top-level event, having won the La Brea Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park on December 26. The California-bred 4-year-old daughter of Smiling Tiger improved her record to 16-7-5-2 with $852,405 earned for co-owners Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Peter Deutsch.
“To win for these owners with this filly, it means a lot to me, and to win here at Keeneland,” Miller said. “Great ride by Javier and I’m happy for the whole team. She ran great, she deserved it. She’s got a huge heart. She’s not a big filly. She’s not impressive to look at, but she’s impressive to watch run.”
Spiced Perfection returned $11 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Amy’s Challenge brought back $4 to place and $3.20 to show, while Late Night Pow Wow paid $2.80 to show.
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