Likely, ridden by young jockey sensation Julien Leparoux, made the jump from debut maiden winner to stakes victor with a nine-length dismantling of the field in Sunday's $107,800 Lafayette for 3-year-olds at Keeneland.
Likely squeezed through at the rail to seize the lead from 9-10 favorite Laptop Computer at the head of the stretch and drew away through the lane under urging, completing the six furlongs in 1:09 1/5 on a fast track.
Leparoux, runaway winner of the recent Turfway Park jockey title with 167 wins, leads North American riders in total wins in 2006. The victory aboard Likely was his third of the day and his fifth in the 3-day-old Keeneland meet.
"He was very good today," Leparoux, a 22-year-old native of France, said of Likely. "I just sit on him and, when I ask him, he just went very good."
Patrick Biancone trains the Florida-bred colt by Yes It's True
-Tri Toasted (Ecliptical). Likely broke his maiden at first asking March 25 at Turfway Park by 2 1/4 lengths.
Sunday's victory was worth $66,836 to owners Maurice Miller III and Thomas F. Van Meter II. Diane Harrington bred Likely, a $400,000 Keeneland buy as a 2-year-old in training a year ago.
"We had him last year," said Biancone. "He had a little injury, and we gave him a little time. Maurice Miller has done a great job. He took him back to his farm in Florida to prepare him and sent him back to us three months ago."
Laptop Computer, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, finished seven lengths clear of the show horse, Skeleton Crew, with Phil Teator aboard. Final Copy and Sharp Attack trailed in the strung-out field of five. Beacon Shine scratched.
Skeleton Crew broke best but fell in behind Laptop Computer, who led through hot fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 4/5. Likely, positioned in third early while racing on the inside, closed in on the leaders at the half-mile point and rallied at the rail on the turn and into the stretch to take command.
Sent off as the third choice, Likely paid $13.40, $5.20, an $2.40. Laptop Computer, who was coming off a 4 3/4-length allowance victory at Gulfstream Park March 15, returned $2.60 and $2.10. Hansel winner Skeleton Crew was $2.80 to show.
Trainer Dale Romans and jockey Rene Douglas teamed to win three races Sunday. They won the second with Trion Georgia, the third with Queenofmardigras, and the seventh with Smart N Pretty.