On the day he broke the Keeneland record for most wins in a single spring meet, jockey Joel Rosario put an exclamation point on his accomplishment April 25 by guiding 18-1 shot Strathnaver to victory in the $150,000 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf (VIDEO) .
Rosario won five races at Keeneland a day after winning four for the third time during the 16-day meet. He also won five races on a single card April 18. Coming into the day needing two victories to match Randy Romero's 1990 spring meet record of 32 wins, Rosario's latest five-spot lifted his season total to 35 with one day left in the stand.
He broke the record two races before the Bewitch aboard Prissy for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker, a winning combination throughout the meet.
While Rosario had a banner day, Maker won three races Thursday and increased his spring meet total to 22 wins. That total equals D. Wayne Lukas for the all-time record for wins by a trainer during a Keeneland meet. Many of Maker’s victories were with horses owned by the Ramseys, who also have a record 22 wins this meet.
Strathnaver, a 4-year-old English-bred filly trained by Graham Motion for owner Andrew Stone, charged past Regalo Mia in deep stretch to register a one-length triumph in the Bewitch, a 1 1/2-mile grass test for older fillies and mares.
"I got a perfect trip," said Rosario, the 28-year-old native of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. "Graham told me to just let her do whatever she wants and she did it."
A daughter of Oasis Dream, Strathnaver improved to 2-for-2 in the U.S. after beginning her career in England. Her winning time for the marathon event was 2:30.65 over firm going. The winner was bred by Mrs. C.R. Robinson and Mrs. H.G. Lascelles out of the Lahib mare River Belle.
No factor in the early going while racing eighth, Strathnaver responded when roused by Rosario with three furlongs to run. Despite having to circle the field seven wide into the stretch, the bay filly came flying through the lane to sweep past Regalo Mia at the furlong mark and won inching clear.
Regalo Mia, the narrow second choice in the field of 11, had used a nifty inside move rounding the final bend under Luis Contreras to take the lead from Scampering in upper stretch and had opened up a clear advantage. She was unable to hold off the streaking Strathnaver, however, and settled for second, three-quarters of a length in front of the late-running Qushchi and Edgar Prado.
Strathnaver, whose previous U.S. victory came March 16 in a 1 3/16-mile allowance/optional claiming test at Gulfstream Park, paid $38, $14.80, $8.80. Regalo Mia, winner of Gulfstream's Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) at the Bewitch distance March 30, returned $4 and $3.20 while rounding out a $150.60 exacta. The British-bred Qushchi, also trained by Motion for Stone, paid $9.20 to show as a separate betting interest.
"I thought she was very impressive that day at Gulfstream," Motion said of the winner. "Like I said to Joel, I just wasn't sure about the mile and a half. But clearly she handled it pretty good."
Gathering, the favorite at odds of 2-1 following an impressive allowance win earlier in the meet, set the pace for a mile (:24.49, :48.87, 1:13.18, 1:38.63) before giving way to the stalking Scampering, who reached the quarter pole with her head in front in 2:05.13. Gathering would weaken to finish ninth under Rosie Napravnik.
"She was very good in the gate, which is probably the worst thing that happened," Napravnik said. "She broke so sharp that she wouldn't relax. We had quite a bit of pressure on the front end, so she got pretty tired at the end."
Strathnaver won for the fourth time from 11 lifetime starts and increased her bankroll to $133,336.
It was 2 1/2 lengths back to the Irish-bred Kissable in fourth. She was followed by Alaura Michele, Angegreen, Scampering, And Why Not, Gathering, Dynarama, and Revelstoke. Charming She Is scratched.