Noble Stella had things her way during Wednesday's $107,400 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Keeneland.
The 5-year-old German-bred mare, who boasts the same sire as last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Shirocco, led all the way to win the 1 1/2-mile race in the slow time of 2:33.15 after such leisurely fractions of :27.81, :53.37, 1:19.49 for six furlongs and 1:45.28 for the mile.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, the daughter of Monsun withstood a late challenge from Irish-bred Louve Royale to win by a half-length as the 3-5 favorite for owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Roger Attfield. Sweet Science, who also gained in the stretch, finished third, a half-length behind Louve Royale. She was followed by Shared Dreams and Mama I'm Home, who raced in second-place before fading in the stretch. Bea Plus was scratched.
"They let me go nice and easy and I took it," said Prado. "My filly ran at Keeneland last year and she went to the lead, too, and she barely got beat a length. Today she pulled real hard and she was able to hold on."
The Bewitch was the third start of the year for Noble Stella, who is out of the Dashing Blade mare Noble Pearl and was a two-time stakes winner in Canada last year. Noble Stella had finished third in three consecutive distance races – the La Prevoyante (gr. IIT), The Very One (gr. IIIT) and Orchid (gr. IIT) handicaps. Her Bewitch earnings of $66,588 boosted her career bankroll to $448,482 with a record of 6-2-5 in 22 starts.
Noble Stella paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10. Louve Royale returned $3.60 and $2.40 and Sweet Science paid $2.40 to show.