The question in the $445,200 Walmac International Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland Friday was who would relish the off going. The answer was Westerly Breeze and Ruby's Reception.
The opening day card at Keeneland was hit by high winds and rains from tropical storm Lili which made the going extremely sloppy.
In the Walmac for juvenile fillies, Robby Albarado was content to sit behind Ruby's Reception and Terry Thompson and favored Atlantic Ocean and Jerry Bailey. As they entered the turn in the 1 1/16-mile race, Albarado sent Westerly Breeze to the lead as Atlantic Ocean began to fade. Ruby's Reception came on strong to close the margin at the finish, with Final Round, under Jorge Chavez, running third. Atlantic Ocean finished fourth.
The winner ran the distance in 1:46.90.
Westerly Breeze, owned by A. Steven Miles Jr. and trained by Carl Nafzger, was winning her second race in four career starts. In her previous start, she ran fourth in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies in which Atlantic Ocean and Ruby's Reception ran one-two.
In an ironic twist, Westerly Breeze was bred by The Thoroughbred Corp. and sold as a yearling for $145,000. Atlantic Ocean, trained by Bob Baffert, was purchased earlier this year by The Thoroughbred Corp. for $1.9 million.
Westerly Breeze returned $33.60, $13.80 and $9.40. Ruby's Reception, who has never been off the board in six starts for trainer Larry Jones, paid $6.80 and $4.60. Final Round was worth $6.20.
Westerly Breeze, now most likely headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 26 at Arlington, is by Gone West out of the Cox's Ridge mare On the Brink.
She earned $276,024 for Friday's win, increasing her career bankroll to $302,804.
"I really think she needed that two-turn race at Turfway last time," said Albarado. "She was trying to get off the racetrack that day. Today she knew what was expected of her and she went about her business."
It was the second time a Nafzger-trained filly had won the Alcibiades. He sent out Zero Minus to victory in the 1986 running.
"I really thought she (Westerly Breeze) had a good chance today after her race at Turfway," Nafzger said. "That was her first race going two turns and she only got beat three lengths."