Miss Keller burst between horses in upper stretch and outfought Latin Love to the wire to win the $291,268 Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) on the Woodbine turf Sept. 19 (VIDEO).
The first of three important turf stakes on the Woodbine Mile program, Miss Keller, the slight 8-5 favorite over Latin Lover, tallied by 1 3/4 lengths. She completed the one-turn event for fillies and mares at about 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.84 over good going. It was the first graded stakes win for Miss Keller, who began her career in Ireland and transferred to North America in the summer of 2009.
Jockey Javier Castellano delivered the 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Montjeu to the winner's circle for owner Three Chimneys Racing and trainer Roger Attfield.
Miss Keller won the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga last month before posting a fast-finishing third in her most recent start in the Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) over the Saratoga inner turf course Aug. 28. She was far back that day for Castellano before rallying belatedly, but was much closer to the pace in the Canadian.
Points of Grace went to the front shortly after the start and established an easy pace (:24.69, :48.33) as Miss Keller, Magic Broomstick and and Latin Love, on the far outside, kept the pressure on. Miss Keller eventually dropped into fourth along the inside as Points of Grace took the field through the turn and shook clear briefly at the top of the stretch. Miss Broomstick flattened out a bit in the lane and Latin Love, four wide on the outside, challenged to get a head in front at the eighth pole.
Miss Keller after squeezing through a narrow opening between a weakening Points of Grace and Magic Broomstick, dueled successfully with Latin Love, who was ridden by Garrett Gomez, bounding clear in deep stretch under a brisk hand ride.
“She really did (relax nicely)," said Castellano, who was taking his second turf stake of the weekend at Woodbine after an upset a day earlier with New Normal in the Natalma. "My concern was keeping track of somebody else. It was a small field. Not much speed in the race. I tracked in behind. She saw it very well today.”
Latin Love, making a strong North American debut for trainer David Wachman, was five lengths clear of the Chantal Sutherland-piloted Magic Broomstick, who nosed out the 119-pound high weight Points of Grace for third. Lemon Twirl andJenny's So Great completed the order in the six-horse field.
Miss Keller's only previous start on the Woodbine turf produced a close runner-up finish to Simply Splendid in the Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) June 5. She registered her fifth career victory in 16 starts and won for the third time in nine North American tries after racing for trainer John Oxx in Ireland. The Canadian victory was worth $174,528 and increased Miss Keller's earnings to $438,424.
“She got a long way out of it, the last race at Saratoga (Ballston Spa), a bit too far out of it, then she came running very strongly,” said Attfield. “But the speed didn’t come back that much and she had a lot of ground to make up. It was actually a very good race.
“She likes to track horses," Attfield added. "When she gallops in the morning, she won’t go very kindly on her own, but she’ll track. She did very well today. When he asked her to go, she split horses and went through there very nicely.”
Hascombe and Valiant Studs bred the bay filly, who is out of Ingozi, by Warning.
Miss Keller carried 115 pounds and paid $5.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor's Latin Love, also bred in Ireland, returned $3.10 and $2.20, completing a $13 exacta. Magic Broomstick was $2.80 to show.