Lightly-regarded Lilacs and Lace shocked many in the crowd of 23,155 racing fans who turned out to watch the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 9. The 48-1 longshot defeated Wyomia by a length while favored Kathmanblu finished third at the Central Kentucky track (VIDEO).
According to Lilacs and Lace’s rider, Javier Castellano, it couldn’t have gone much better for his mount in the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies.
“We talked about it before the race that if she broke well, take it from there,” he said. “It worked out great. She broke sharp today; I go from there. She had a perfect trip, a beautiful trip. She enjoyed going to the lead.”
By the time the field of nine reached the first turn, Lilacs and Lace was in command. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Flower Alley was a half-length ahead Delightful Mary after completing a quarter-mile in :24:04, and she extended her advantage to a length while posting a half-mile time of :47.95.
Delightful Mary stayed close before fading in the stretch and dropping back to seventh. Canadian grade III and American added-money winner Wyomia rallied from fifth under rider Frederic Lenclud and finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Kathmanblu, who lacked a late response after her five-wide surge with Alan Garcia aboard.
Kathmanblu captured the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) in an 8 1/2-length romp last year and she won the Feb. 19 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) by 1 1/4 lengths in her last outing prior to the Ashland. The daughter of Bluegrass Cat also was an added-money winner at Keeneland in 2010 and Gulfstream Park in 2011.
“She looked like she handled it (the Polytrack) OK,” said Kathmanblu’s trainer Kenny McPeek. “She just got hung way too wide to beat the winner. She never got a chance to get inside and save ground. But we’re still going to the (Kentucky) Oaks (gr. I, May 6 at Churchill Downs) She got a good race under her belt; this was another good start for her. She’s all class.”
Bouquet Booth was fourth, a length behind Kathmanblu. Grand Style finished fifth and Draw It was sixth. Following seventh finisher Delightful Mary under the wire were Excited and second choice Dancinginherdreams.
“The first eighth of a mile, she was on the bit, then she relaxed after that,” said Dancinginherdreams’ jockey, Julien Leparoux. “But she never picked it up again. There’s really nothing else to say.”
Lilacs and Lace’s winning time over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface was 1:42.73. A winner of three of her eight career races, she came into the Ashland off a fourth-place effort in the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park March 26. In her only other outing this year, she captured the Jan. 1 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields by 1 1/2 lengths. Last year, Lilacs and Lace finished second in the Corte Madera Stakes at Golden Gate. Her lone victory in five 2010 races came in heer maiden score prior to that..
“I don’t think she went into the Bourbonette as mentally sharp, but she came out of the race very, very good,” said Lilac and Lace’s trainer John Terranova II, who replaced Duane Offield prior to the Bourbonette. “We decided if things went well (afterward) to turn her back quick in the Ashland.
"She really needed her last race. She ran into a very, very nice filly (Summer Soiree, who triumphed by 10 3/4 lengths). She (Summer Soiree) kind of got away from everybody and we were down inside. She (Lilacs and Lace) was a lot sharper going into this one.”
Owned by James Covello and her co-breeders, Judy Hicks, and Kathryn Nikkel, Lilacs and Lace's earnings total $340,300 after receiving a boost from her $240,000 winning share of the Ashland purse.
“I think so,” said Terranova when asked if Lilacs and Lace would run next in the Kentucky Oaks.
Produced from the Seattle Slew mare Refinement, Lilacs and Lace was a $35,000 buy-back at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale when offered by Paramount Sales, agent. She was trained by Offield through her first six races, which were in California.
Lilacs and Lace was the second-longest shot in the Ashland lineup and her backers received payoffs of $99.40, $32.40, and $10. Wyomia returned $5.80 and $3.60. Kathmanblu paid $3.
The exacta returned $622 and the trifecta was worth $2,475.80 for a $2 bet.
“I wish there would have been a little more pace,” said Lenclud following Wyomia’s runner-up effort. “But I was nice and comfortable behind the leaders and my filly was relaxed. I had to wait a little bit around the turn because there were horses in front of me. But when I got my filly out, she just switched her leads and she took off running. Obviously, if it had been the second wire today, she would have been the winner. She’s a pretty nice filly.”
In addition to Lilacs and Lace, Terranova saddled two other winners, Energized and Citrus Kid, on Keeneland’s Ashland card. Both were sired by Lemon Drop Kid and both are owned by Covello and Golden Goose Enterprises. The other partners in the ownership of Citrus Kid are Michael Imperio and Nick Sallusto.
“Horses just love it here,” Terranova said. "We kind of targeted this meet. We like to come here and run well. We have several horses coming into this meet doing very well and we’re glad they’re showing it.”