William S. Farish's homebred filly Reunited, teamed again with Robby Albarado, overtook the faltering pacesetter Forest Music in the final 100 yards and staved off the charging outsider Miss Terrible by a head to win the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland Sunday.
Bettors overlooked the swift 3-year-old daughter of Dixie Union
in her Keeneland debut for trainer Neil Howard. She went off at odds of 5-1 in the field of 10 and collected her first graded stakes victory. Reunited, ridden by Albarado in all of her races except her last start, won for the third time in four tries at the six-furlong distance, clocking a slow time of 1:11 2/5 on a fast track.
Howard opted for the TCA against older fillies and mares over next weekend's Raven Run (gr. II) against Reunited's own age group because the distance was a furlong shorter. Reunited was the lone 3-year-old in Sunday's field.
It appeared she might have to settle for second with the speedster Forest Music in firm control in mid-stretch for Shaun Bridgmohan. But inside the final furlong, Forest Music tired visibly and Reunited, who tracked in second for much of the journey, edged in front and was barely able to hang on over Miss Terrible and David Flores. Savorthetime was in tight close to the wire, brushing with Miss Terrible, and had to settle for third, one length behind.
"I'm the the kind of guy who is good all day and then ten minutes before the race, I think I can't read a condition book," Howard said. "It was great to see this filly lay off the pace. I told Robby to be as careful as you can the first quarter of a mile. She's a good filly who always gives 100 percent."
Behaving Badly, the 7-5 favorite who was undefeated in three starts for trainer Bob Baffert, was in position on the turn but failed to fire for Jerry Bailey and came home eighth.
Forest Music set a pace of :21 3/5, :44 4/5 and :57 3/5 and led by two lengths before weakening.
"She ran to expectations today," said Albarado. "I know it was a tall order (to run against older horses) but she proved best. We anticipated a fast pace."
With Bailey aboard, Reunited won a restricted stakes Sept. 25 over 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont by eight lengths in her last start. Unraced at 2, the dark bay has won five of seven in 2005 and pushed her earnings to $320,565.
She paid $12, $5.80, and $4.20.
Miss Terrible, bouncing back from three straight poor performances for Bradley Ross, rallied from seventh and returned $12.20 and $5.60.
"The filly ran great and she almost got up," said Flores. "She broke great and I got in a little traffic. That probably cost me the win."
Savorthetime's show was $4.60.
"The pace was fast and we were closing into it, but she didn't have enough to beat the top two finishers," Stevens said.
Vision of Beauty missed third by a neck and she was followed by Forest Music, Puxa Saco, My Trusty Cat, Behaving Badly, last year's TCA winner Molto Vita, and Liz On Polk Street. Platinum Princess scratched.