Martin Schwartz's odds-on favorite Gorella continued to impress with a gutsy effort in Saturday's $400,000 First Lady (gr. II) to win a nose decision over a resolute Karen's Caper on the Keeneland turf course.
Th French-bred Gorella, coming off a grade I win in the Beverly D. at Arlington two months ago, won the one-mile event for fillies and mares in 1:34 at odds of 4-5 for her third successive graded stakes victory.
Gorella is expected to challenge male rivals next in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, although the Emirates Airline Breedrs' Cup Fily & Mare Turf (gr. IT) remains a possibilty. She finished third in the BC Mile last year at Belmont Park.
Immediately after the race, Schwartz said he was donating 10% of the winner's purse of $248,000 to a fund in honor of Kathleen Torok, a Keeneland racing department employee who died in an automobile accident Thursday morning.
Stella Blue, with Mea Domina pressing her, set early fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 2/5. Gorella, well off the early pace, came off the final turn to collar the leading My Typhoon in the stretch. She battled through the lane between My Typhoon and the soon arriving Karen's Caper on the outside. My Typhoon fell out as they left the furlong marker, and Gorella made her short advantage hold up in the final strides as Karen's Caper and Edgar Prado battled tenaciously to the wire.
Regular rider Julien Leparoux was aboard Gorella for trainer Patrick Biancone. The 4-year-old daughter of Grape Tree Road won her fourth race in seven U.S. tries. Overall, she's won seven of 16 starts with earnings of $1,456,209.
"I think what we have to notice today is the ride of Julien because he won the race with the filly with the minimum she could do because we have to be fresh in three weeks," said Biancone.
"She's a very good filly," said Leparoux. "Today, she was a little bit fresh. That's why she didn't win by 10 (lengths), I think."
Gorella paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10. Karen's Caper returned $3.60 and $2.80. My Typhoon, ridden by Garrett Gomez, was $3.20 to show while 5 1/2 lengths behind.
Dash of Humor finished fourth with Mea Domina, Chic Dancer, Wend, and Stella Blue following. Bag of Quarters, Our Love, and Sweet Talker scratched.