Grade I winner Intercontinental was a little headstrong in her first start of the year, but she got the job done under Jerry Bailey to register a repeat victory in the $200,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IIIT) Sunday at Keeneland.
The 5-year-old Danehill mare, owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, dashed home in the 1 1/16-mile event for older fillies and mares by one length over the closing Delta Princess. The time was a solid 1:41 4/5, with Sister Swank finishing third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
Intercontinental resisted restraint, repeatedly throwing her head while traveling third between horses around the first turn. Bailey let her have her way, and she swept to the lead on the backstretch while shifting four wide on the outside.
"Usually, after she throws her head back in my face the second time, she settles down," Bailey said, "but she would have none of it today."
Under top weight of 123 pounds, she maintained a daylight advantage throughout, opening up by two lengths at the eighth pole over Sister Swank, who was in striking position for Corey Lanerie the entire way.
"She's very hard to ride," Frankel said of the winner. "She really pulls. We tightened the girth an extra notch 'cuz we didn't want anything to happen. She's a very good filly, very talented. In the morning, she's perfect, but in the afternoon she likes to go."
Delta Princess came from next to last in the seven-horse field for Cornelio Velasquez to rally six wide in the stretch, nabbing the second spot while gaining ground on the winner in the final stages.
"My filly has a great closing kick, but I think she needed more distance," Velasquez said.
River Belle ran fourth, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the 4-1 second choice Katdogawn, the Southern California shipper making her first start at Keeneland. Sister Star and High Court trailed.
The pace, set for the opening quarter-mile by Sister Star, was :24 3/5. Intercontinental clicked off splits of :49, 1:13, and 1:36.
The 7-10 favorite Sunday, the English-bred Intercontinental won last year's Wiley by a length in 1:41 2/5 in her first North American start in a graded stakes race. She won four of six in the U.S. last year and earned $592,386 after beginning her career in France. She wrapped up the season with a two-length triumph in the Matriarch (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Nov. 28.
Overall, Intercontinental, who was produced by the Kahyasi mare Hasili, has a 9-2-3 record in 16 starts and earnings of $905,263. Sunday's win was worth $124,000.
Intercontinental paid $3.40, $2.80, and $2.20. Delta Princess returned $6 and 43.80. Sister Swank's show was $3.80.