Embur's Song shot to an early lead and never looked back, as she held off a late bid from Check the Label to win the $125,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (gr. III) (VIDEO) in track record time April 22 at Keeneland.
John Velazquez earned his fourth win of the afternoon aboard the 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song. Todd Pletcher trained her for Fares Farm.
Embur’s Song, who was making her first start in stakes company this season after being stakes-placed twice as a sophomore, completed 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack in 1:41.62. The previous track record was 1:41.70, which was set by Sadler's Trick in 2006. It was also a stakes record.
The bay filly was bred in Ontario by Josham Farms.
Breaking from post 6, Embur’s Song went straight to the front. She took the field of 11 around in splits of :23.90, :47.75, and 1:11.55, carrying a 2 1/2-length advantage into the stretch. Much Rejoicing, who was close to the pace throughout, was still in contention when they straightened away, as was Milwaukee Appeal and Denomination.
But the real challenge came from grade I winner Check the Label, who was making her season debut under Ramon Dominguez. The Stormin Fever filly came from near the back of field and angled out for her stretch run. She was closing in on Embur’s Song in deep stretch but ran out of room. Embur’s Song’s margin of victory was a neck.
Check the Label settled for second, two lengths in front of Washington Bridge and It's Tea Time, who deadheated for third.
"I tried to settle her down as good as I could without fighting her too much," Velazquez said. "She wants to be where she wants to be, and hopefully I have something left to run down the lane. And she did."
Embur’s Song was off the board in two previous starts this season, finishing ninth in an optional claimer on the Gulfstream Park dirt and fourth in an optional claimer on the Gulfstream turf course on April 2. As a 2-year-old, she broke her maiden by 13 1/4 lengths at Keeneland in her debut before running third in the Woodbine Oaks and second in the Bison City Stakes—both at Woodbine.
"It looked like on paper she might be the only speed," said Pletcher. "She's kind of a headstrong filly but behaved very well today. She didn't behave very well at Gulfstream; she was much better today and I think that made the difference."
The winner, who is out of the Bold Ruckus mare Embur Sunshine, has earned $244,940 from her seven starts.
Embur's Song paid $21.20, $10.40, and $5.20. The exacta (10-6) returned $196.80. The trifecta (6-10-1) was worth $455.80 with Washington Bridge and the trifecta (6-10-4) with It's Tea Time was $564.80.