Claiborne Farm notched an historic victory at Keeneland on Friday when the 3-year-old A.P. Indy filly Yell charged from off the pace under Pat Day to win the Raven Run Stakes (gr. III) by 2 1/2 lengths.
The victory gave the Hancock family's racing and breeding operation the first ever gold bowl, the most prestigious award in a program that begins with the presentation of a gold julep cup to the winning owners of a graded stakes at the Lexington track. The program, inaugurated by Keeneland in 1952 and revised in 1994, awards a solid-gold serving tray and pitcher for hitting thresholds in major stakes victories. Once a gold pitcher is awarded, an owner must win eight more graded stakes at Keeneland to earn the gold bowl. Bwamazon Farm is the only other gold pitcher winner.
Seth Hancock, president of Claiborne, said winning the gold bowl was his second biggest thrill in racing, behind Forty Niner's nose victory over Seeking the Gold in the 1988 Travers Stakes (gr. I). Hancock said it was something especially coveted by his mother, who accompanied him in the winner's circle presentation.
"We're proud of it," he said during an interview on TVG. "It's something we've been trying to do for a long time. After a while when you want it so bad, you begin to wonder if maybe it's just not meant to be."
Yell, owned and bred in partnership with Adele Dilschneider, had a lot of work to do when the 12-horse field for the seven-furlong Raven Run rounded the turn into the stretch. Tina Bull battled with Hippogator for the early lead, then took over with three-eighths of a mile to run. A wall of horses chased the front-runner into the stretch, with Yell racing just behind them. Day swung the filly to the outside once straightened away, and Yell quickly moved toward the lead, pulling away in the final sixteenth.
Ebony Breeze finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Tina Bull. Yell, the 3-2 favorite, paid $5 to win after completing seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.75.
The Raven Run winner was produced from the Northern Dancer mare Wild Applause, purchased by Claiborne for $1,025,000 from the late Paul Mellon's Rokeby Stables at the 1992 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Wild Applause is out of Glowing Tribute, an outstanding broodmare who has produced seven stakes winners.
Yell's victory was her first since her inaugural stakes win at Gulfstream Park in February, when she won the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II). She is trained by Shug McGaughey.
One race earlier, Richard Dennis' Bonapaw, one of the top sprinters in the country in 2002, earned his first win of the year in his eighth start, taking a $58,000 allowance contest by two lengths under Larry Melancon. It was the 18th win in 44 career starts for Bonapaw, a 7-year-old Sabona gelding trained by Norman Miller. Bonapaw covered 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.25.