Ridden by Joe Talamo, Nashoba's Key drew even with the pacesetting Citronnade in the final furlong of the 1 1/4-mile test and edged away in the final strides to win by three-quarters of a length in an excellent time of 1:59 3/5.
Nashoba's Key, a 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Silver Hawk--Nashoba (Caerleon), won her seventh consecutive race in a career that did not begin until January. She made a successful return to the turf for trainer Carla Gaines and owner/breeder Warren B. Williamson. She won her first three races on the lawn, then won three more -- all in grade I or II stakes -- on all-weather surfaces.
The Bobby Frankel-trained Citronnade, sent off at odds of 4-5, had things her own way on the front end. With David Flores milking the pace, she held a comfortable one-length-plus lead over Nashoba's Key while clicking off easy splits of :24, :48 1/5 and 1:12 1/5. Nashoba's Key angled off the rail on the backstretch and tracked Citronnade easily on the outside in a tightly grouped six-horse field. Nashoba's Key was given some rein rounding the final turn but she could not shake loose of her challenger. In the stretch, Nashoba's Key upped the pressure on Citronnade and she prevailed under strong urging. The rallying Black Mamba made it close for second.
“I think she’s improving with every single race," Talamo said of the winner. "I knew Citronnade was running easily, but Nashoba has such a big kick. Once she gets going, she’s like a big train. The way she’s been running is just unbelievable. Carla has done such a great job with her. She’s always fresh.”
“I was looking for a slow, easy pace and hopefully I could get away with it," said Flores. "But that winner, she is a good filly. I mean, my filly tried everything just to get away from her, but when it was time to go, well, that’s a very good filly that beat us.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling," Talamo said. "There’s no doubt Nashoba has helped my career. When you’re a kid, you dream about winning races like this. It’s just awesome. She’s brought me to the next level.”
Gaines has indicated she would prefer to run the versatile Nashoba's Key in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) rather than the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) on dirt, and the 79-year-old Williamson confirmed that after the Yellow Ribbon.
"She just helped make our minds up for us," he said in reference to Nashoba's Key.
Added Gaines: "If all goes well, we’re leaning towards the Filly & Mare Turf, especially since she just won a grade I race at a mile and a quarter on the grass, but you have to go race by race." She said the Yellow Ribbon was the biggest win of her career.
Nashoba's Key was coming off a 1 1/2-length win the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) on the Del Mar Polytrack Aug. 5, and had earned a brief freshening after that. Her victory skein includes the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) and Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track.
Sent off as the second choice, the bay filly Nashoba's Key paid $5.40, $2.80 and $2.40. She earned $240,000 for the victory and has now banked $863,460.
The grade I winner Citronnade ($2.40, $2.10), who had a five-race winning streak stopped when a non-threatening fourth in the Beverly D (gr. IT) at Arlington Park Aug. 11, gave a much better effort in the Yellow Ribbon. Trained by Bobby Frankel for owner/breeder Frank Stronach, she nosed the New Zealand-bred Black Mamba ($2.60) and Tyler Baze for second.
Memorette, Imagine and the French-bred Mauralakana trailed. All carried 123 pounds.