Claiborne Farm's favored Wend made her return to her hometown track a successful one, making it look easy as she handled a solid field in the $200,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares on a dusty Keeneland turf course Saturday.
Ridden by Edgar Prado for trainer Bill Mott, Wend seized the lead from Mirabilis in mid-stretch and rolled to a 1 1/2-length victory over Asi Siempre, who closed well in the 1 1/16-mile test but failed to seriously challenge the winner. The winning time was an impressive 1:41 1/5 on a warm Kentucky afternoon.
Wend, a 5-year-old Pulpit
mare, earned her second victory in as many starts this year and her seventh win in 11 lifetime starts. One of the nation's top female turf runners in 2005, she had a five-race winning streak before she finished sixth in the Emirates Airline Breeder's Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. In her only other start on the Keeneland grass course, the bay mare ran second to 2005 distaff turf champion Intercontinental in the WinStar Galaxy (gr. IIT) last fall.
Breaking from the far outside in a field of eight, Wend was farther back than usual as Zona, pressured by Brazilian, set soft early fractions of :24 and :48. Mirabilis, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela for trainer Bobby Frankel, tracked the leaders to the far turn but was urged to the lead at the head of the stretch as Wend and Asi Siempre kicked into gear on the outside. Wend and Mirabilis dueled briefly before Wend took command and drew away.
"She can run on the front or come from behind," said Prado. "She ran some tough races last year and she came back real good this year. There's a long year ahead, and she just did a super job."
Asi Siempre, Julien Leparoux aboard, swept past Mirabilis for second by one length. Amorama finished fourth, just a head behind her stablemate.
The winner's share of $124,000 increased Wend's career earnings to $568,350.
Wend, who is out of the Topsider mare Thread, paid $4.60, $3, and $2.20. Asi Siempre, racing for the first time since winning Keeneland's Valley View (gr. IIIT) nearly six months ago, returned $4.20 and $2.80. Mirabilis, a French import for Juddmonte Farms still looking for her first United States victory after three close losses, was $3.60 to show.
Following Amorama was Ambitious Cat, Miss Mambo, the Italian-bred Zona, and Brazilian. Cape Hope scratched.