Mena completes graded hat trick with Keep Up in River City
Boisterous didn't have an easy time of it, as Skyring and Swift Warrior immediately challenged to his outside. All the while, Keep Up was steadily closing ground after swinging eight wide into the stretch and rushed by the dueling trio to score by a half-length on the wire.
"He was far back, but it was a pretty solid pace and he was traveling nice," Mena said. "When I rode him in the mile race (on November 16), he was pretty far back, too, and I didn't want to rush him off his feet. I rode him with patience and from the quarter-pole he flew home."
The five-year-old son of Unbridled's Note completed nine furlongs on the firm turf in 1:48 to move his grass record to a perfect three-for-three. Keep Up rewarded he faithful, but few, backers with nice payouts of $62.60, $15.60 and $10 as the third longest shot on the board.
Boisterous, the 4-5 favorite, held second by a head over Skyring, who had a neck to spare on Swift Warrior in fourth. Optimizer completed the top five and was followed under the line by Miami Deco, Middie, Guys Reward, Global Power, Depeche Chat, Temeraine and Stormy Lord.
"I didn't really have any trouble. He broke good and I put him in a good spot. When I asked, he gave me his race," said Boisterous' rider, Jose Lezcano. "The other horse (Keep Up) just ran past me and did it easy."
"We had him nominated to this race just in case the prep (on November 16) didn't go and he came out of the race so well and Miguel emphasized that he never hit him. I watched the replay and he never did hit him and he only ran the last quarter (mile). We said if anything came up, we wouldn't run him.
"He's a well-bred horse and he's fully developed now. He's sound and he's lightly raced. It's an advantage for us now going forward."
Making his stakes bow in the River City, the five-year-old improved his lifetime record to read 11-5-1-4 and has now accumulated $213,623 in career earnings. He could try the Grade 3 Col. E. R. Bradley on January 19 at Fair Grounds for his next start, but Clarkson added that they might also "...bypass that and give him some time."
Keep Up is the first stakes winner out of the Deputy Minister mare Keeper Hill, who captured the Kentucky Oaks, Spinster and Las Virgenes, all Grade 1s, while earning more than $1.6 million during her four years on track. The mare also placed in eight other Grade 1 contests, including the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and is a half-sister to Grade 2 victor Golden Gear.
Keep Up's third dam is stakes vixen Jedina, who would go on in the breeding shed to produce Grade 1-winning millionaire Clabber Girl, and his fourth dam is Killaloe, who foaled Grade/Group 1-scoring sires Fappiano and Torrential. Killaloe is also the granddam of 2000 Belmont Stakes king Commendable.
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