A Raving Beauty holds off Dona Bruja in First Lady
Courtesy of Byron King of DRF.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sandwiched in a 1 1/2-hour span between blowout Grade 1 victories for Chad Brown trainees Wow Cat and Complexity at Belmont Park Saturday afternoon, the trainer picked up another Grade 1 victory when A Raving Beauty lasted for a head victory in the Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady at Keeneland.
In comparison to those New York races, the First Lady came down to a tight finish, one that A Raving Beauty won by a head over Dona Bruja. Her victory even seemed potentially in doubt in midstretch, when Dona Bruja was surging and A Raving Beauty’s lead was diminishing. However, asked for more by jockey John Velazquez, the winner found the necessary reserves to hold off Dona Bruja, the runner-up.
The race marked a change of tactics for A Raving Beauty, who had won the Grade 3 Beaugay and Grade 1 Just A Game by stalking the pace this spring. Those races were followed by her being aggressive behind horses in defeats when third in the Diana and fourth in the Ballston Spa over the summer.
“We wanted to be close, and wanted to make sure she was settling where she was, but not behind horses,” said Velazquez, who was aboard her for the first time Saturday.
In going to the lead, she altered style with stablemate and favored Quidura, who had beaten her in the Ballston Spa on the front end. It was the latter that raced off the pace Saturday before fading to seventh.
Over drying-out ground officially labeled “good,” A Raving Beauty completed a mile in 1:37.78. A 5-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman owned by a partnership that includes Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and others, she returned $8.40 as the second favorite in the field of nine.
Rebounding from a ninth in the Beverly D. at Arlington, Dona Bruja made a race of the First Lady late, falling just short but still 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Indian Blessing.
“Once I tipped her out, she really ran home hard for me – she was not quite good enough,” said Dona Bruja’s jockey Declan Cannon said.
“Felt like I was going to run by, but when I got to John, his filly kind of pricked her ears and he had more left in the tank.”
The top three all had considerably better luck than sixth-place Insta Erma, who stumbled at the start, nearly unseating jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
The First Lady served as a Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for the Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, a race for which A Raving Beauty is not being considered, Brown said from New York, where he watched the First Lady. He has managed her throughout the year in short routes, and the Filly and Mare Turf is 1 3/8 miles this year.
Brown added he is uncertain whether she will run again this fall, noting she is entered to be sold in the November Sale at Fasig Tipton on Nov. 4.
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