Claiborne Farm’s homebred Haka wore down pacesetter Funny Moon in the stretch and held on for a one-length victory in the $100,000 Doubledogdare (gr. III) (VIDEO), as trainer Christophe Clement ran one-two in Keeneland’s April 16 feature.
A 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, Haka earned her first stakes win and continued her fine form on synthetic surfaces. The bay filly, who came into the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack event off an optional claiming win over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride Feb, 28, is now 3-2-0 in five starts on synthetics. Garrett Gomez, the meet’s leading rider, rode Haka to victory.
Clement’s other charge, Funny Moon, the 2009 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner who has been off since last August, set a moderate pace in the Doubledogdare, racing through splits of :24.12 and :47.90 under Julien Leparoux while No Use Denying pressed the issue. Haka stalked the leaders in third, made her winning move rounding the second turn, and took over at the top of the lane.
Haka led by a length over Funny Moon at the eighth-pole and maintained her lead throughout the final furlong, though Funny Moon was game along the rail and 9-10 favorite Striking Dancer was also closing well on the outside under Robby Albarado.
Haka stopped the clock in 1:44.72. Funny Moon edged out Striking Dancer by a head for runner-up in the field of five.
"I had a really good stalking, tracking trip," said Gomez. "Once I got a little pressure at the half-mile pole, I eased her out from behind them. She ran on in the stretch."
The winner, who is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Juke, improved to 3-4-3 from 11 starts. She upped her earnings to $226,167.
"She should have won a stakes before, but it took me two years" Clement said. "She came around. She got bigger, stronger. She was a bit unlucky. I was delighted with the way she ran today."
Haka, as the second choice, paid $9.40, $4, and $2.60. The exacta (1-2) was $42 and the trifecta was $69.80.
Lady’s Laughter was fourth, followed by No Use Denying. Starship Angel and Unforgotten were both scratched.