George Strawbridge Jr.’s Informed Decision split horses in deep stretch and ran down 2-5 favorite Ventura to win the $300,000 Vinery Madison (gr. I) (VIDEO) by a head in thrilling fashion April 9 at Keeneland.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Informed Decision was in contention throughout the seven-furlong Madison, which was run as a grade I for the first time. The 4-year-old daughter of Monarchos sat third through the backstretch while Dubai Majesty took the field of six fillies and mares through aggressive splits of :22.77 and :45.42. Bear Now stalked the pace, while Ventura, a multiple grade I winner and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner, trailed the field under Garrett Gomez.
Dubai Majesty still led in upper stretch, but Ventura made a huge, five-wide run to take the lead approaching the sixteenth-pole. The Bobby Frankel trainee seemed to have the race wrapped up but Informed Decision rallied between Bear Now and Dubai Majesty in the late stages and out-kicked Ventura along the rail.
The final time on the Polytrack was 1:21.64. Ventura finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Bear Now.
"When (Ventura) passed me I thought, 'Oh, I guess I waited too long.' Finally, when (Informed Decision) got between horses she kicked on," Velazquez said. "She did it for me because I fell asleep a little too long."
Informed Decision won her third race in a row, but was entering off a nearly six-month layoff. She won the Lexus Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland in October. This was her third victory in as many tries in Lexington.
“I thought we were lucky to get a piece of it, to be honest," said winning trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "I reminded John in the paddock that she's coming off a layoff and maybe not to set her down too early. He gave her an absolutely beautiful ride. But I must admit, when Ventura rolled on by, I thought, Another day.'"
Overall, Informed Decision is 6-0-1 from eight lifetime starts. She has earned $522,587. The gray/roan filly was bred in Kentucky by C. Kidder and N. Cole, and is out of the His Majesty mare Palangana.
The winner paid $8.20, $3, and $2.40 as the second choice. The exacta (1-4) returned $14.20 and the trifecta (1-4-6) was worth $71.
Dubai Majesty was fourth, followed by Bsharpsonata and Authenicat.
In the afternoon’s first race, a $50,000 maiden that included five first-time starters, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Steve Asmussen teamed up for victory with Heavenville, a good-looking Louisiana homebred. The son of Offlee Wild—Seeking Heaven, by Petionville, came from off the pace under Shaun Bridgmohan and made a big four-wide stretch move to win by 4 1/4 lengths in the 4 1/2-furlong sprint (VIDEO). He was sent off at 7-1 and defeated 1-2 favorite Foot the Bill, who is owned and trained by Wesley Ward. Ward had been 4-for-4 at the spring meet.
“He doesn’t know he’s a Louisiana-bred,” laughed Bill Heiligbrodt. “I have about 12 Offlee Wild’s and they’re nice horses. I bred some of my better mares to them. This horse has been in Louisiana for quite a while. You have to like the way he finished, so we’ll expect more from him. We’ll keep him here for a while now.”
The biggest price of the day came in race 4, a $30,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up. James Miller’s Perfectly Campbell pulled off a 59-1 shocker under Tony Farina, as the 3-year-old Pleasantly Perfect filly stalked the pace set by 3-5 Having Faith and outfought the favorite on the rail (VIDEO). In four previous races, Pleasantly Perfect had done no better than fifth and was more than eight lengths back in every one. Elwood McCann Sr. trains her.
The day’s most bizarre result came in race 5, a second-level allowance for older horses. The 1 1/8-mile turf event was won by French-bred Nergal, but it was the second and third-place finishers that left people talking. After stewards looked at the photos for nearly 15 minutes, it was determined that there were dead-heats for both place and show. The unusually rare occurrence meant that there were four different superfecta combinations (VIDEO).