Wesley Ward's Judy the Beauty cruised past pacesetter Gypsy Robin and last year's champion female sprinter Groupie Doll to win the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) Oct. 5 at Keeneland (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper covered the six furlongs on Polytrack in 1:09.23 under John Velazquez, topping Gypsy Robin by a length.
Groupie Doll, winner of the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) over Judy the Beauty in her previous start, was three-quarters of a length farther back in third. The defending TCA champion, she tacked on last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) on her way to championship honors.
The TCA is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the Filly & Mare Sprint. Ward, who owns and trains Judy the Beauty, quickly said after the race she'll be on her way to California for the Nov. 1-2 World Championships at Santa Anita Park.
Gypsy Robin, with Garrett Gomez up, broke alertly and went to the lead in the TCA, getting the opening quarter mile in :22.67. She had an open length lead on Livi Makenzie with Groupie Doll right to her outside. Gypsy Robin still held the lead after a half-mile in :45.94 while Groupie Doll made headway toward the front with Velazquez asking Judy the Beauty, who was racing in hand near the inside, to come with a wide move.
Judy the Beauty got to the front as the top three approached the eighth pole in :57.35. Her sub :12 final eighth allowed her to draw clear at the wire.
"(The trip) was perfect," Velazquez said. "I talked to Wesley before we went out and asked him what the best thing was for her, inside, outside? She broke well enough. When the speed went and when I saw Rajiv (Maragh on Groupie Doll) in front of me (I knew) that's the horse to follow. I got right behind him and tried to get the jump on him before he got running.
"When my horse responded right away, I was a little surprised at how quick we got by (Groupie Doll). I was very proud of the way she did it. Not only that, but she had to put up a fight with the other horse (Gypsy Robin) inside."
The winner, out of the stakes-winning Holy Bull mare Holy Blitz, was bred in Ontario by Adena Springs. She was a $20,000 Keeneland September sale yearling in 2010. Second dam Pagofire is a six-furlong stakes winner and track record setter.
The winner paid $8.40, $4.40, and $2.10 while carrying 120m pounds. Gypsy Robin paid $4.80 and $2.20. Groupie Doll, the 1-2 favorite toting top weight of 124 pounds, paid $2.10. Purely Hot finished fourth and she was followed by Tanglewood Tale and Livi Makenzie. The $2 (1-3) exacta returned $37.
"I've owned this filly for a few years now, and I'm just elated," Ward said. "Any time you can have a home-court advantage (the horses have) a big advantage and that's what this filly had. She trains here every day. She's just outstanding."
The win was the fifth from 12 starts for Judy the Beauty, who has earned $585,757. This year Judy the Beauty won an allowance/optional claiming event at Keeneland in April, then ran second at Churchill Downs in the six-furlong Winning Colors Stakes (gr. III) Memorial Day weekend.
She ran second again in the Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) during the Summit of Speed at Calder Casino & Race Course, and was third behind Groupie Doll and Purely Hot while extremely wide in the Presque Isle Downs Masters over a synthetic surface. She has won or placed in four other stakes.
"Rajiv got her to rate," said Groupie Doll's trainer William "Buff" Bradley. "He said she broke sharp, and she was laying right where we wanted to be. We were in a good spot all the way around. She just got outrun. I'm not happy about it, but that's the way it is. It looks so far like she came back good, so we'll look at her back in the barn and go from there."