Barbara Hunter’s homebred mare Keertana took over from Honimiere approaching the eighth pole and bounded home for a convincing 1 1/4-length victory in the $150,000 Grey Goose Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) April 28 at Keeneland.
With Jose Lezcano aboard for Tom Proctor, Keertana covered 1 1/2 miles on the good course in 2:33.08. It was her fourth graded stakes win and 10th win overall. The Kentucky-bred is by Johar, out of the Storm Cat mare Motokiks.
Keertana, who was third when beaten only a half-length in last year’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), raced near the back of the field of seven in the Bewitch. Silver La Belle led after a first quarter mile in :25.64, but Honimiere and Javier Castellano took over shortly thereafter and led into the lane. Making her U.S. debut, Honimiere ran splits of :50.25, 1:15.89, and 1:42.02.
Honimiere was still traveling well off the final turn, but Keertana, who swung six-wide into the lane, was charging powerfully from the center of the track and easily swooped by everyone en route to victory. My Baby Baby and Alan Garcia rallied well along the inside to get second, one length in front of Honimiere. La Luna de Miel was fourth.
Keertana had won two of three starts this season, including The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in February. She was third in the Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) last time out.
Improving to 10-5-6 from 25 starts, Keertana has now earned $914,371.
“She probably just likes to have three turns. It seems that she's run some pretty powerful races when we run her (at that distance),” said Proctor, who said he had no plans for her next race. “She doing good. I think she’s as good this year as any year.”
Sent off as the favorite, Keertana paid $6.40, $3.60, and $3. The exacta (5-10) returned $60.80 and the trifecta (5-10-6) was worth $402.20.