Daring Dancer wins the Appalachian Stakes. <br><a target="blank"http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/at-the-races-2013/27257665_QgCqdh#!i=2443841913&k=xwF3gGm">Order This Photo</a>

Daring Dancer wins the Appalachian Stakes.
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Mathea Kelley

Daring Dancer Wins Appalachian With Key Move

Bottled up at top of stretch, she fights between horses to remain unbeaten April 17.

Daring Dancer, making her first start in nearly six months, remained unbeaten with a daring 2 1/2-length triumph in the $100,000 Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association (gr. IIIT) April 17 at Keeneland. (VIDEO)

Sagamore Farm's Maryland homebred posted her third lifetime win for trainer Graham Motion as the daughter of Empire Maker  defeated eight other 3-year-old fillies in the one-mile turf test. With Alan Garcia aboard, 5-1 shot Daring Dancer was timed in 1:36.04 over firm ground.

The victory, before an announced crowd of 11,442, was the third on the day for Motion. The trainer also won the Appalachian in 2010 with Check the Label.

Racing mid-pack after breaking outwardly from post 5, Daring Dancer closed into contention rounding the far turn but had no where to run in upper stretch and was steadied at the three-sixteenth pole. As front-running Lacarolina retreated a bit in upper stretch, Garcia forced Daring Dancer between Lacarolina and pace rival Kitten Kaboodle to poke their head in front at the furlong marker.

Daring Dancer drew off once in the clear to handily defeat Sweet Acclaim and 2-1 favorite Recepta, who finished third.

"The focus was to get her to finish well," Garcia said. "She broke great; she saved all the ground. We were waiting at the top of the stretch for a hole to open, and it did. She finished very strong."

The French-bred Lacarolina, on the inside in her United States debut, and Kitten Kaboodle vied through fractions of :23.44, :47.61, and 1:12.48 before weakening in the drive. They were overtaken by Recepta, ridden by Joel Rosario, and the Irish-bred Sweet Acclaim, also making her U.S. debut with Rosie Napravnik aboard. Those two fillies rallied well on the extreme outside but could not match strides with the winner late.

"They were all bottled up on the inside so we just took the outside path," said Napravnik, who noted that 8-1 hope Sweet Acclaim was slow to begin. "She was clear to run and she really kicked hard."

Daring Dancer, who is out of the Red Ransom mare  Vienna Affair, returned $12.60, $6.40 and $4.40. Sweet Acclaim, who was group-placed at Newmarket in her most recent start Sept. 27, returned $9.80 and $5.40 in a solid initial start for trainer Chad Brown. She finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Recepta, who paid $3 to show in her 2014 bow for trainer Jim Toner.

Kitten Kaboodle stuck around for fourth, followed by Annulment, Lacarolina, Zinzay, False Clock, and Babe's Ruler.

Maria Maria, Paloma P, and Resistivity were scratches.

Daring Dancer began her career at Laurel Park last September, winning a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash by two lengths as the favorite. She was favored again in her next start, a one-mile allowance heat on a good Churchill Downs turf course Oct. 27, which she won by 2 1/2 lengths with Garcia aboard for the first time. The bay filly has been training consistently at Motion's Fair Hill stable in preparation for her return.