With the Keeneland main track favoring speed, Cornelio Velasquez guided Diplomat Lady to a front-running 2 1/4-length victory Thursday in the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont (gr. II).
The 3-year-old Forestry
filly was sent right to the lead in spite of being bumped by Joint Effort at the start, where she was joined by Yachats and Rafael Bejarano. The went a quarter in :21.93 and a half in :44.65 before Diplomat Lady, carrying top weight of 123 pounds, shook her off and 45-1 shot Lake Alice took over second.
But Velasquez had no trouble pulling away down the stretch of the seven-furlong test as Lake Alice, under hot apprentice Julien Leparoux, got second and Wildcat Bettie B, ridden by Terry Thompson, finished third.
Diplomat Lady shipped in from California for trainer Christopher Paasch where she most recently ran fourth in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I). The dark bay filly, who earned $155,000 for Thursday's triumph, won the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) in her final start as a 2-year-old. Owned by Charles Cono, Diplomat Lady improved her record to 8-4-0-0 with earnings to $512,800 and will most likely now go on to the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
"The last couple of races we've been a little bit disappointed with her finishes," said Paasch. "I told Cornelio to let her break real sharp today. I think it got a little deep down the lane; she got a little tired in the race."
Race favorite India, who broke from the outside in the 10-horse field for jockey John Velazquez, was never really in contention and finished a distant fourth as the 13-10 choice.
The race was marred when the Beverly Lewis-owned Dance Daily took a bad step in the turn for home and threw jockey Robby Albarado. Dance Daily, winner of the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) earlier this year, suffered a condylar fracture of the right front leg at the top of the stretch and was euthanized. Albarado was not injured.
Diplomat Lady, out of the Saratoga Six mare Playcaller, was bred by Mike Rutherford, whose Manchester Farm is adjacent to the rear of the Keeneland property.
Sent off as the second choice, Diplomat Lady paid $9.80, $6 and $5 while Lake Alice returned $30.80 and $13.60. Wildcat Bettie B paid $5.20 to show. The first three finishers are products of the Keeneland Sales.
The Todd-Pletcher trained India finished 10 3/4 lengths behind the winner. She was followed across the wire by Joint Effort, Yachats, Fast Deal, Terri's Charmer, and Motion.
The final time was 1:27.97.
Earlier, the ageless Perfect Drift, a career earner of more than $4.2 million, made his 7-year-old debut in the day's seventh race, a 1 1/8-mile turf event. The son of Dynaformer
took the lead in the stretch but could not hold off Watershed Event ($14.40). Perfect Drift held on for second.