Earplugs Help Louve Royale Capture Dowager

(from Keeneland report)
Favored Louve Royale, equipped with earplugs to help her relax, prevailed in the $150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes Sunday on the Keeneland lawn after a prolonged rally.

Allowed to lag ninth of 10 in the first half-mile of the 12-furlong turf race for fillies and mares, the 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Peintre Celebre collared the leaders on the outside near the eighth pole and proved best by a half length.

Time of the race on the firm turf was 2:32.59.

Julien Leparoux was aboard for the victory. The crafty rider reached up and pulled out the mare's earplugs near the quarter pole, allowing Louve Royale to hear the other horses and the crowd in the stretch run.

"When I took the earplugs out, she reacted very good," said Leparoux, the nation's leading jockey in races won. "Today she won because she was the best."

Bottiglia, at 79-1 by far the longest price in the race, finished second, a head in front of Bond Deal, who was shipped from California for the Dowager. It was another head back to fourth-place Moon Berry, who grudgingly gave up her early lead after posting soft fractions of :25 3/5, :51, 1:16 4/5 and 1:42 4/5.

Louve Royale, who is owned by Joseph Allen and trained by Patrick Biancone, paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.40. The winner's purse of $93,000 increased her career earnings to $316,094.

"I don't think you really need the earplugs much in the U.S. because most of the races are a sprint," explained Biancone. "But to run a mile-and-a-half or a long-distance race, a filly like her has a tendency to take a long time to relax and possibly be last with a lot of ground to make. With the earplugs, she may be behind but not as far. It worked very good."

Bottiglia returned $39.80 and $14.20 and Bond Deal paid $3.40. Following fourth-place Moon Berry were Victory Lap, Quiero Ganar, Mpenzi, Sister Star, Burren Rose, and Country Fair.

The win gave Leparoux his 24th victory of the meeting, tying him with Rafael Bejarano atop Keeneland's jockey standings. Bejarano rode three winners Sunday.

(Chart, Equibase)