Strong favorite Audacious Chloe led the field every step of the way to win the $115,700 Appalachian Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the Keeneland turf course Sunday, handing the dominating duo of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez one more stakes victory.
Pletcher had hoped that Velazquez could rate Audacious Chloe off the pace in the one-mile turf race, but the daughter of More Than Ready proved tough on the lead, holding off Classic Neel by a neck, while hard ridden by Velazquez to the wire. It was another neck back to Red Birkin in third.
“We were hoping there was someone to follow today, but there really wasn’t much speed in the race,” said Pletcher. “So, it kind of left it up to Johnny. He obviously did the right thing.”
The final time was 1:36.39 on firm going. Audacious Chloe led through even fractions of :24 2/5, :48 4/5 and 1:13 3/5.
Classic Neel, sent off at 15-1, rallied on the rail under Rafael Bejarano but came up short while gaining late. Red Birkin, a 27-1 shot, prompted Audacious Chloe on her outside under Javier Castellano but lost touch with the winner in upper stretch before rallying again in deep stretch.
It was the second victory of the year for Team Valor Stables and Never Tell Farm's Audacious Chloe and her fourth in seven lifetime starts with a pair of seconds. She increased her career earnings to $219,873 with the winner’s purse of $71,734. She won Gulfstream Park's Gaily Gaily on the grass over 2-year-old filly champion Dreaming of Anna in her last start Feb. 25. She is out of the Manila mare Audacious and was bred by Highclere Inc. in Kentucky. She sold for $300,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga in August 2005.
“I tried to slow the pace as best I could, and she kind of relaxed a little bit,” said Velazquez. “We were at a comfortable pace and, after that, she put up a good fight.”
The 6-5 choice in a field of 12, Audacious Chloe paid $4.40, $3.40, and $3. Classic Neel returned $12.60 and $8 and Red Birkin returned $11 to show.