Favored Aruna, racing on Polytrack for the first time, emerged from the pack approaching mid-stretch and quickly took control to win the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) before a crowd of 15,350 at Keeneland Oct. 9 (VIDEO).
The winning Flaxman Holdings homebred 4-year-old filly had raced exclusively on turf in her 11-race career, which began in France in 2009. Trained by Graham Motion, the daughter of Mr. Greeley out of the Unbridled mare Surya won the Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) and All Along (gr. IIIT) stakes earlier this year. She had not raced since a runner-up finish to Zagora in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga July 30.
With Ramon Dominguez aboard, Aruna closed from seven paths wide to gain the lead at the eighth pole and held second choice Pachattack safe to the wire to win by a half-length.
Aruna earned a starting berth in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4, an option Motion said he would seriously consider. She would also be a strong candidate for the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
"Obviously, I didn’t know she was going to win, but I would have been disappointed if she hadn’t run a big race today," Motion said. "She’s a really nice filly.”
“I think the dirt race (Ladies' Classic) is a wide-open race. Her mother (Surya) won on the dirt at Saratoga, so it’s got the wheels turning.
“I’ve got to think about it. I’ve had some luck running turf/synthetic horses at Churchill (referring to Animal Kingdom, who won this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands). I’ve got to think about it.
“I love the mile and an eighth (of the Ladies’ Classic) for her. I think we’ve got to take her over there and maybe work her but I have to talk to Maria (Niarchos-Gouaze of owner Flaxman Holdings Ltd.) about it.”
Pachattack was followed by La Gran Bailadora in the field of 12 fillies and mares. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile event was a good 1:47.88.
Embur's Song hustled to the front and stepped a lively pace in the Spinster while leading the outsiders Tapitsfly and Dynazaper. Fractions were :23.39, :46.41, and 1:10.76 as Embur's Song began to dwindle on the turn.
Dynazaper collared the leader leaving the final turn but Embur's Song held on in upper stretch as Dynazaper weakened. But as the field converged, it was Aruna, far out on the course, who took command for Dominguez at the eighth pole. Aruna held on with determination as Pachattack, rallying from fourth on Aruna's inside for Rajiv Maragh, fought gamely to the wire while failing to get on even terms with the winner.
The victory gave Dominguez his second grade I victory in two days, following Gio Ponti in the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile.
“She relaxed great for me," Dominguez said. "At the three-eighths pole, I got squeezed out of position. Once I got her to the outside, which was very, very wide, she still didn’t miss a beat and came running for me pretty good down the lane.”
Pachattack finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of La Gran Bailadora, ridden by Corey Lanerie. The Kentucky Cup Distaff (gr. III) winner rallied from ninth at the furlong marker to finish impressively, edging Protesting by a neck for the show spot.
Stars to Shine, Well Monied, Sugar Again, Dynazaper, Tesoro de Amor, Super Espresso, Embur's Song, and Tapitsfly completed the order.
Never worse than second in seven United States starts, Aruna won for the fifth time since transferring from France in the summer of 2010. Her overall mark stands at 6-3-1 in 12 races with earnings of $759,379. She banked $300,000 for the Spinster win.
Off at 2-1 under equal weight assignments of 124 pounds, the dark bay/brown filly paid $6.80, $3.60, and $3. Grade III winner Pachattack, coming off a runner-up effort to Ask the Moon in the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Sept. 3, returned $4.20 and $3.40. The exacta involving the two favorites was $30.60. The show price on 27-1 La Gran Bailadora was $7.80.
Theyskens' Theory scratched.