Not only did John Oxley's Spring in the Air pass the test in Friday's Grade 1, $400,000 Alcibiades at Keeneland, but so did bettors who made her the mild 4-1 favorite in a wide-open field of 14 juvenile fillies. Under Patrick Husbands, the daughter of Spring At Last weaved her way through the field from the second tier, angled out approaching the stretch, and closed with a rush to overtake Magical Moon and go on to win by a length. Spring in the Air returned $10.60, $6 and $3.60.
La Song, under pressure from Speedinthruthecity during the opening half-mile, set splits of :22 4/5 and :47. Tracking in third was 9-2 second choice Magical Moon, who took over second as La Song passed the three-quarter marker in 1:11 4/5. Magical Moon edged clear of the leader turning for home and opened up a two-length advantage in the short stretch, but couldn't hold off the oncoming Spring in the Air nor 21-1 shot Broken Spell, who rallied from even farther back to claim the runner-up spot by two lengths.Spring in the Air, trained by Mark Casse, completed 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack in 1:44 1/5.
"I had a good trip," Husbands said. "I went into the race just to follow (jockey Ramon) Dominguez because I figured his horse (Tara From the Cape) would probably take me halfway down the lane. When I reached the quarter pole, he had no horse so I had to get from behind him and get to the lead. From there she was a class filly."
Finishing behind Broken Spell and Magical Moon were Tara From the Cape, Fully Living, Almost an Angel, Gold Edge, La Song, Pure Indy, Dancinginthecircle, Kitten's Dumplings, Rose to Gold, Skyfall and Speedinthruthecity. Cloudy Vow and Daar Zayed failed to draw in from the also-eligible list.
"I went to Patrick (Husbands) before the race and said, 'What do you think,' and he said, 'It's just a matter of how far.' He rode her confidently -- scared the hell out of me," Casse said.
"She's just pure class. A lot of the other fillies were getting upset in the paddock but it didn't bother her at all. Patrick has ridden almost 1,000 winners for me. He had a ton of confidence in her and rode her like he did. It took that (confidence) to let her drop back that far and then make a run.
"She's got a pretty good surge to her when you hit the gas."
Runner-up in her 5 1/2-furlong Polytrack debut in the restricted Shady Wells at Woodbine July 15, Spring in the Air rebounded to graduate by an emphatic 10 1/4 lengths going six furlongs in a maiden special weight over the same track. She jumped into stakes company for next start, the Grade 2 Natalma at Woodbine, and rallied from 11th to edge Nancy O for the place as Spring Venture won the one-mile grass test by 1 1/4 lengths. Spring in the Air has now earned $371,519 from a line of 4-2-2-0.
Bred in Ontario by WinStar Farm, Spring in the Air was produced by the Unbridled mare Unbridled Run, a half-sister to Grade 2 heroes Tejano Run and More Royal. Unbridled Run had previously reared the stakes-placed Ithinkisawapudycat.
Also hailing from this female family are Group 1 winner Palace Episode, Grade/Group 2 winners Laughing Lashes, Changing Ways, and Pays to Dream, and Grade 3 winners Jacodra's Devil, Jacodra and Bizzy Caroline.
Farther back in the family tree are Grade/Group 1 notables Alwuhush and Husband.
Spring in the Air was a $130,000 two-year-old in training purchase at OBS this past March.