LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Chad Brown’s Uni charged free in the stretch and tore off impressively to win Saturday’s $400,000 First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
The First Lady is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Uni receiving an automatic berth in the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking at her own pace from post 4 under Joel Rosario as the 3/1 second choice, Uni was near the rear heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, Ms Bad Behavior led Conquest Hardcandy through opening fractions of :22.71 and :45.40.
Still running comfortably toward the rear as the field rounded the far turn, Uni tipped out near the exit and hit the top of the stretch running six abreast. Coming fast past her 6/5-favored stablemate Rushing Fall, Uni ran right on by new leader Juliet Foxtrot before streaking away late to win the mile-long event over the firm turf course in a final time of 1:32.87.
“At some point, I thought (Rushing Fall) would have a little more speed than me, and I’d be looking to see where she was and probably follow her and she’d put me in a good spot,” Rosario said. “In the first turn, it looked like they were going pretty good speed, and I just followed Rushing Fall. (Uni) came with a nice run like she always does. She’s unbelievable. She has a long stride and she just kept coming and coming.”
Juliet Foxtrot finished second for the second straight race, having just missed by a nose in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) at Del Mar. The Mabee winner Vasilika launched a rally to get up for third, while Rushing Fall – who was stuck wide for much of the running – could do no better than fourth by a head over Hanalei Moon.
Behind them came Awesometank, Just Wonderful, Mitchell Road, Storm the Hill, a weakened Ms Bad Behavior, Indian Blessing, and a folded-up Conquest Hardcandy to complete the order of finish. Simply Breathless was scratched.
Uni’s win was her sixth in her last seven starts, all at a mile, and improved her overall record to 17-9-3-1 for co-owners Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta, and Bethlehem Stables. The British-bred 5-year-old daughter of More Than Ready has now amassed $1,247,880 in earnings between her European and North American appearances.
“It’s another addition to her tremendous career as a miler,” said assistant trainer Whit Beckman. “She’s real solid when she’s put at this distance and she’s gone to multiple tracks and has shown that kick.”
Unit returned $8 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3 to show. Juliet Foxtrot brought back $8.20 to place and $5 to show, while Vasilika paid $3.60 to show.