LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Richard Baltas’ Venetian Harbor led the field on a chase from gate to wire and fought gamely to secure victory by a neck in Saturday’s $200,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Breaking sharply from post 4 under Manny Franco as the 8/5 favorite, Venetian Harbor outkicked Four Graces for early command, then raced a length ahead of Reagan’s Edge and Grand Cru Classe while posting opening fractions of :23.06 and :46.17.
Straightening for home still in command, Venetian Harbor distanced herself from her early chasers in the stretch but had to dig deep late and fend off a rail-surging Finite in the final stages.
Venetian Harbor crossed victorious by a neck while completing the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:23.03.
“I was a little bit concerned about the 2 horse (Four Graces), and when I saw she didn’t break (in front), I decided to go then,” Franco said. “She’s happy when she’s in the lead. She showed it today. She’s a nice filly.”
Finite’s push from the back half of the field put her in second, a 1/2-length past Grand Cru Classe, who outkicked Reagan’s Edge by a nose for third.
Tonalist’s Shape, Secondary Market, Four Graces, and Secret Keeper (who went to her knees out of the gate) completed the order of finish.
Fair Maiden and Never Forget were scratched from the race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
Venetian Harbor’s win was her first since taking the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park and improved her overall record to 7-3-4-0. The daughter of Munnings has now earned $503,400 for co-owners Domenic Savides, Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, and River Oak Farm.
“She’s great out of the gate,” said Joseph Ciaglia, who confirmed that Venetian Harbor would return in 3 weeks to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) over the same course and distance. “She’s tenacious, and that’s what you need to win some races. Gotta be quick out of the gate. Manny did a great job getting out of the gate, and that was the key to the win.”
Venetian Harbor returned $5.20 to win, $3.40 to place, and $3 to show. Finite brought back $7.40 to place and $5.20 to show, while Grand Cru Classe paid $7.80 to show.