Nutmeg Stable's Madame Giry rallied in the stretch of Friday's $100,000 Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland to post an easy 2 1/2-length victory under jockey Eddie Castro. The sophomore daughter of Castledale earned her fifth-straight win when completing 5 1/2 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:03 for trainer Cam Gambolati.
Inspired, the 5-2 favorite, set the initial fractions of :21 1/5 and :44 3/5 before the tracking Bounding Bi managed to stick her head in front through five furlongs in :56 3/5. Madame Giry, who was four wide on the turn, had pulled her way up into second by that point and quickly took command, drawing off as the 5-2 second choice to pay $7.60, $4.80 and $3.60.
"I don't think I've run (but) five or six times here," Gambolati said of winning his first race at Keeneland. "It (the race) just fit in. These kind of races are hard to find. The timing was good."A couple of people tried to talk me into running in the (Grade 2) Raven Run (going 1 1/16 Polytrack miles on October 20), which I think she would handle. But you know what, you win four in a row on the turf and it's hard to change. We proved it today."
Bounding Bi held second by a length over Sensible Lady, who finished in a photo with Maple Forest and You Need Me. The trio were separated by a nose and neck on the line. Completing the order under the wire were Formal Plan, Inspired, Yournotthebossofme, Georgei's Angel and Speedacious.
Madame Giry came to Thomas Tierney's Nutmeg Stables after Gambolati purchased her and another filly from a financially-strapped friend for $2,000 each last year.
"A friend of mine was having a hard time and he sent me the pedigrees on these two horses," explained Gambolati, who saddled Spend a Buck to win the 1985 Kentucky Derby. "We drove down to Maryland from Monmouth Park and they were just out in a field and not in good shape. The one filly (Footprintinthesand) was kind of flighty and the other one was the follower."
Madame Giry was "the follower" in the field, but has been unbeatable in her past five races. She broke her maiden at Belmont Park on July 6, took a pair of optional claiming contests at Saratoga in August, then captured her stakes bow in the Smart N Fancy Stakes back at Belmont on September 12.
"She has been a pleasant surprise," Gambolati acknowledged. "She is really two just turning three because she wasn't really broken until August of last year.
Madame Giry did not distinguish herself at first last winter at Gulfstream Park.
"Her first two breezes were mediocre and I was wondering what I had spent the money for," Gambolati said. "But her third breeze was like night and day and she had figured it out. I got to work her on turf before we left Gulfstream and the light switch went on."
Thus far, Madame Giry's wins have come at 5 1/2 to seven furlongs, but her conditioner isn't against stretching her out.
"I still think she will run long," he remarked. "She galloped well on the main track (Thursday). We thought about the Raven Run, but she has won four in a row so why experiment. There is time for that next winter."
Bred in Maryland by Raintree Thoroughbred Farm Inc., Madame Giry is the first stakes winner of the First Trump mare Ballet Partner and has now racked up $266,280 in earnings to go along with her 9-5-1-0 career mark.
As for the other filly Gambolati purchased, Footprintinthesand, she has made one start. That came last month at Monmouth where she finished fifth to earn $400.