Spook Express, with Mike Smith up, charged from the back of the pack to win the $500,000 Winstar Galaxy Stakes for older fillies and mares that was co-feature on Keeneland's opening day card.
Spook Express, a 7-year-old from South Africa who has won 11 of 20 career starts, was dead last on the backstretch but made her move at the top of the stretch to shoot past the nine-horse field and cover the 1 3/16-mile turf course in 1:54 1/5.
It didn't take trainer Thomas Skiffington long to think of what he liked best about Spook Express, who won for the third time in six starts this year.
``She wins,'' he said with a laugh. ``She wins a lot. She always gives you a coronary, but that's just her style. We tried to change her, but she likes to run in the back.''
Spook Express finished a 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Solvig and paid $11.40, $6.20 and $3.80. Solvig, with Pat Day aboard, paid $8.20 and $3.60, while Veil of Avalon finished another neck back and paid $4.
Carl Nafzger, the trainer of Solvig, filed an objection after the race, claiming that Spook Express interfered with his filly at the quarter pole. The objection was disallowed by track stewards.
``I told them to just look at it to see what they thought,'' Nafzger said. ``I didn't know for sure because I didn't see it head on. If you don't call it, you don't have a chance.''
Spook Express is scheduled to be sold by Three Chimneys Farm, agent, as a racing/broodmare prospect at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
According to Three Chmneys' Website, Spook Express was dubbed "South Africa's Queen of the Turf" when, as a 3-year-old. she won 8 of her 9 starts, from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles was only a nose away from a perfect record.
She was purchased to race in the U.S. in August. After completing the three-month quarantine for horses shipping to the U.S. from South Africa, she won her North American debut, the 1-1/16 mile Columbiana on grass at Hialeah.
Skiffington said it was undecided if Spook Express would seek the Breeders' Cup, noting that the South African-bred mare would have to be supplemented to the race.