Heavily favored Turbulent Descent dominated her five rivals in the $150,000 Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) before 18,873 at Keeneland April 17, winning by five lengths (VIDEO).
Racing three wide all the way around, Turbulent Descent confronted front-runners Gran Lioness and Honey Chile in upper stretch for jockey David Flores. The Southern California shipper, sent off at 3-5 odds, took three cracks of the whip to get control at mid-stretch and sailed home in a time of 1:26.12 for the seven furlongs and 184 feet on Polytrack.
Honey Chile, ridden by Jose Lezcano, finished second, a half-length in front of Coax Liberty, with Garrett Gomez aboard.
In her first try outside of Southern California, Turbulent Descent won for the fifth time in six lifetime starts. She registered her third graded stakes victory for owners Blinkers On Racing, William Strauss, Robert Butler, et al.
Though she has twice won grade I events around two turns, including Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) March 5, trainer Mike Puype feels Turbulent Descent is better suited to sprinting. The daughter of Congrats —Roger's Sue, by Forestry , certainly validated his opinion with her powerful victory in the Beaumont. It was her fourth win in as many tries on synthetic surfaces.
Ocala Stud bred the winning bay filly in Florida. She was a $160,000 Ocala Breeders' Sale 2-year-old purchase one year ago. Besides the Santa Anita Oaks, she captured the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) in December.
Puype said earlier that he would forgo the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 6, feeling the nine furlongs may be beyond her scope. Instead, he will shoot for a pair of major sprint stakes in New York as immediate goals for the outstanding filly—the Acorn (gr. I) June 11 at Belmont Park and Test (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 6.
"We’re going to try to win the Eclipse with her this year," Puype said after winning his first graded stakes at Keeneland. "You don’t have to go a mile and an eighth to get the Eclipse. She’s an awfully good filly, and she’s going to put up a resume this year that I think is going to be worthy of that kind of award.
“The game needs horses like her to bring people out and see races. We’re happy to have her. I’m appreciative of the owners and everyone who’s given me the opportunity.”
As she likes to do, Turbulent Descent, breaking from the far outside, settled in hand off the pace in fourth for Flores, advancing to third on the turn. Gran Lioness held a one-length lead over Honey Chile through the first half-mile, though the pace (:23.26, :47.03) was not quick and the six-horse field raced in compact fashion.
Turbulent Descent drew alongside the leaders and took gradually command by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole. She drew off quickly from there under slight urging in spite of jumping a break in the shadow of the rail near the sixteenth pole.
"She’s awesome. She’s a classy girl," said Flores, who has been aboard Turbulent Descent for all six of her starts. "I just relaxed in the post parade and made sure I was really tied on like crazy, just hang on. I just put her in a spot where I was very confident and just made sure I had a clear spot at the top of the stretch.
“Mike said try to win without the whip but I had to hit her a couple of times because she got to lugging in a little bit. When she accelerated, it was pretty much over. It was fun.”
Honey Chile overcame a mid-stretch brush with the fading Gran Lioness to hold second, with Coax Liberty gaining late to edge Aide by a half-length for third.
Second choice Tell a Kelly was a disappointment in her first start for trainer Chad Brown, finishing fifth. The Darley Debutante (gr. I) winner last year for John Sadler lagged at the back into the stretch and could gather only a mild late gain to nose Gran Lioness, 6 3/4 lengths behind Turbulent Descent.
Turbulent Descent, who shared top weight of 123 pounds with Tell a Kelly, paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Honey Chile, making her first start for trainer Wayne Catalano since finishing last of seven in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Oct. 31, returned $4.80 and $3.80. The exacta was worth $14. Coax Liberty, second in Aqueduct's Cicada Stakes (gr. III) last month for trainer James Lawrence II, was $3.60 to show.
The $90,000 winning share boosted Turbulent Descent's career bankroll to $618,350.