With Jamie Theriot in the irons, Afternoon Stroll dueled with Hot Cha Cha through the final furlong of the Appalachian, a one-mile test for 3-year-old fillies. For most of the stretch Hot Cha Cha had the narrowest of advantages under Orlando Mojica, and even as they hit the wire it seemed that last month's Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) winner had the edge. But Afternoon Stroll, who fought gamely along the inside throughout, put her head down at just the right moment to pull off the upset for trainer Tim Hamm.
A 3-year-old daughter of Stroll —Gertie, by Danzatore, Afternoon Stroll was making her first career start on turf after six tries on dirt or synthetic surfaces. The dark bay filly won a minor stakes at River Downs last summer but was fourth in her last two starts, including an allowance sprint on the Turfway Polytrack March 18 in her only start this year. This was her first time going more than six furlongs. Afternoon Stroll was timed at 1:37.67 on the firm turf.
Afternoon Stroll won for the third time in seven career starts and earned $62,000 for owners Blazing Meadows Farm and Rick Claypool. Winner of the Coca-Cola Bassinet Stakes at River Downs last year, she was bred in Kentucky by Ricky Claypool.
Theriot kept Afternoon Stroll forwardly-placed throughout the Appalachian. She sat just off the pace set by More of the Best, who clicked off fractions of :23.21 and :47.66. Afternoon Stroll had a short lead after six furlongs, but Hot Cha Cha, never far back, took over at the top of the lane. Afternoon Stroll looked beaten several times in deep stretch but never gave up.
“She had a very nice work here, five-eighths of a mile (in 1:00.80 on April 9), and it looked like she handled the turf that morning,” said Theriot. “I called on her, and she was full of run today, really gunning down the lane.”
Fast Tigress rallied from near the back under Julien Leparoux to get third. Obsequious, the 3-1 favorite, finished eighth.
Kent Desormeaux aboard fourth-place Our Dahlia lodged an objection against the winner but it was disallowed.
Afternoon Stroll paid $102.60, $43.60, and $18. The exacta (3-4) returned $743.60, and the trifecta (2-3-6) was worth $5,604.40.
Afternoon Stroll has now earned $161,300.