Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, who raced close to the pace in the early stages of the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs before finishing fifth, raced close to the pace in the May 29 Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at the Louisville track and this time won. The even-money choice under jockey Calvin Borel in the $100,000 race for 3-year-old fillies, Ailalea took command at the head of the stretch and scored by a length over the fast-closing, 31-1 Tap Tap Tapping.
The victory came under top weight of 123 pounds and was the first for the winner since she captured the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last fall. Ailalea is trained by Todd Pletcher.
“I had a good trip,” said Borel, who the day after the Kentucky Oaks won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Super Saver . “She didn’t leave (the starting gate) that good but she brought me there easy. I then just took my time. I thought she was much the best. I was very confident. When I asked her, she just went on about her business. Todd was telling me that she gets a little nervous before the races, and that was the main key I think. I had to keep her settled. She was fine when she went to the gate.”
Shortly before the Dogwood, Pletcher-trained Hour Glass won the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
Helen Belen and Visavis dueled for the lead through early fractions of :22.56 and :45.27 while Ailalea was content to track in third outside the leaders. Leaving the far turn, Visavis briefly stuck her head in front only to be quickly overtaken by Ailalea.
Ailalea opened a daylight advantage in the stretch and had more than enough left to hold off Tap Tap Tapping and complete the mile on a fast main track in 1:35.89.
BryLynn Farm is the breeder of Kentucky-bred Ailalea, who is by Pulpit out of the Woodman mare Wood Sprite.
Ailalea rewarded her backers with $4.00, $3.00, and $2.40. Tap Tap Tapping returned $18.20 and $8.00, and Fuzzy Britches paid $4.00. Behind the first three were Vertical Vision, Visavis, Helen Belen, Age of Humor and Bell’s Shoes.