Vacare Is First Lady of Keeneland
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

She was second in her last start, the Aug. 23 Balston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) at Saratoga, but Vacare would not be denied victory Oct. 6, when she wore down Precious Kitten in the $400,000 First Lady Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland.

As winner of the one-mile turf event, the 4-year-old daughter of Lear Fan earned an automatic berth to the Oct. 27 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” program.

Jockey Corey Nakatani kept Vacare in fourth as Honour Colony galloped along in front, setting easy fractions of :23.72 and :48.41. Precious Kitten stalked in second, while Quite a Bride raced in third. These positions remained until the field hit the far turn, where Honour Colony gave way to a surge from Precious Kitten.

The Bobby Frankel trainee took the lead at the head of the stretch but was spotting four pounds to Vacare, who was right there on the rail. Although Precious Kitten dug in gamely, Vacare kept on coming, edging her rival by a half-length. The final time was 1:35.85.

"She's been very consistent," said assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul. "She was 4-for-4 last year and obviously loves Keeneland. We arrived here four days ago and she shipped well. It was a very good setup for us. There was enough speed on the inside and she was very relaxed. She was gutsy at the eighth pole and had enough at the end." 
Sent off at odds of 5/2, Vacare returned $7.80, $4, and $3.40 to win. Precious Kitten paid $4.40 and $3.20 to place, while Quite a Bride brought $4 to show.

Lady of Venice, Arravale, Beautiful Venue, Ermine, Quiet Royal, and Honour Colony completed the order of finish.

Vacare is owned by Jon and Sarah Kelly and was bred in Kentucky by Lothenbach Stables. She now has six wins, one second, and one third and has never been off the board in eight career starts. Last year, she won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland for trainer Christophe Clement.

(Chart, Equibase)

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