LEXINGTON, KY – After a pair of defeats to start 2020, Uni defended her race title with the performance of her season in Saturday’s $350,000 First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare (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 Keeneland this November.
Uni, the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) champion, broke well from post 5 under Joel Rosario as the 2/1 second choice and settled into third heading into the clubhouse turn.
Her Chad Brown stablemate Newspaperofrecord initially went to the lead, but Crystal Lake – who broke out and a bit awkwardly from the far outside post 6 – soon recovered and flew up to set the early pace.
With the even-money favorite Newspaperofrecord giving closest watch, Crystal Lake posted opening fractions of :23.89 and :47.92 before the bettors’ choice retook the lead at the top of the stretch.
Uni came flying in the stretch and inched ahead near the 1/16 pole, then continued to advance before crossing a length clear while completing the firm turf mile in 1:34.90.
“I was close (to the pace),” Rosario said. “She was comfortable there, a couple of lengths behind Newspaperofrecord and (Crystal Lake) in front of me. She’s nice to ride; she’s easy. Thanks to Chad Brown and all his people for the opportunity.”
Beau Recall flew from last to nip Newspaperofrecord for second by a nose.
Dalika and Crystal Lake completed the order of finish.
Daddy Is a Legend was scratched.
Uni’s win reversed her poorer form earlier this year when she finished third in the Just A Game Stakes (G1) and seventh in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1). The British-bred 6-year-old More Than Ready Mare now sports a record of 21-11-3-4 with $2,590,880 earned for co-owners Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta, and Bethlehem Stables.
“I was so stressed out,” said Sol Kumin of Head of Plains Partners. “If she doesn’t run well here, you couldn’t run her back in the Breeders’ Cup after the year she had. Now you run her back, same track, in four weeks and you feel like she might be back.”
Kumin indicated that she would return to the Breeders’ Cup Mile for her final career start before being retired to become a broodmare.
Uni returned $6.80 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Beau Recall brought back $3.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while Newspaperofrecord paid $2.10 to show.