Desperate India Hangs On in Azeri Breeders' Cup
Completing a sweep of the weekend stakes for three-time Eclipse Award trainer Todd Pletcher, India won the Azeri Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) by a diminishing head over Kettleoneup before a crowd of 20,533 on Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn Park.
Magna Graduate, who shipped Wednesday from south Florida on the same flight with India, took Friday’s Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn for Pletcher. The Razorback and Azeri both are contested at 1 1/16 miles.
India, sent off as the 9-10 favorite in the field of six fillies and mares, enjoyed a perfect trip under Chris DeCarlo. She sat a stalking second to Gasia to the five-eighths grounds, at which point she passed that rival from the outside and entered the stretch with a clear lead.
She appeared an easy winner in the upper stretch, but Kettleoneup, a daughter of 1998 Arkansas Derby winner Victory Gallop, uncorked a furious outside rush from dead last, and just missed catching the winner, who drifted out slightly late.
Calvin Borel, the rider of Kettleoneup, claimed foul against the winner for a bumping incident in deep stretch, but the stewards quickly dismissed the claim.
Owned by Frank and Jane Lyon of Little Rock, India is a $400,000 Fasig-Tipton yearling. The 4-year-old daughter of Hennessy was winning for the fifth time in 11 starts, and the $90,000 first prize boosted her career earnings to $542,859. This was her third straight stakes victory, and it came off a five-month layoff.
India was clocked in 1:44 1/5 over a fast strip, and paid $3.80, $3.20, and $2.60. The exacta returned $22.60 with Kettleoneup, who returned $5.60 and $4. A True Pussycat, who finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up, capped a $55.50 (for $1) exacta while paying $4.20 to show.
Plaid, Gasia, and Christmas Lily completed the order.
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