Seek a Star Turns Corner in La Troienne

John C. Oxley's Seek a Star withstood all challenges in the stretch, pulling away to win the featured $114,200 La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies Thursday.

"It's pretty tough to go seven and one-half furlongs or a mile here on the lead," winning trainer John Ward said. "She kind of came of age today. She showed the talent I thought she had."

Scoring her third straight victory, Seek a Star, with Jorge Chavez in the saddle, shook off the bid of 9-5 favorite Aspen Tree in the upper stretch and went on to score by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:28.75 for 7 ½ furlongs on the main track.

Cool Spell, a 55-1 outsider under Cornelio Velasquez, rallied from next-to-last to be runner-up, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Hot Storm, with Culinary fourth in the field of nine fillies. Aspen Tree faded to fifth after looming threateningly turning into the stretch under Javier Castellano.

Seek a Star was on the lead at the beginning, leading at the quarter-mile point in :22 2/5 before relinquishing the front end to Hot Storm and Jerry Bailey, who were in front after a half in :44 4/5. Seek a Star edged back to the front by a head after six furlongs in 1:09 2/5. Challenged on either side by Hot Storm and Aspen Tree in upper stretch, the chestnut filly kicked away at the eighth pole. Cool Spell closed gamely after entering the stretch six wide to get second.

"There was plenty of speed in the race, and I waited as much as I could," Chavez said. "She kind of wanted to go, go, go ... but I wanted her to relax.

"At the quarter pole I asked her to run and she responded. Some horses you need to get after to respond, but she gave it to me instantly."

Seek a Star, a daughter of Mutakddim, recorded her third win in five total starts and her first success in a stakes event. She returned $7.40, $5.20 and $4.60. The winning purse was $70,804.

The owner-trainer-jockey combination of Oxley, Ward and Chavez teamed to win the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos.

Cool Spell returned $33.60 and $12.20 while completing a $249.60 exacta. Hot Storm was $6 to show.

After Culinary and Aspen Tree came Kota, She's That Cat, Punch Appeal and Our Kes.

(Chart, Equibase)