Chattahoochee War (3) wins the Transylvania Stakes with Guillaume Tell (center) and Rey de Cafe (rail) putting him to the supreme test on opening day at Keeneland.

Chattahoochee War (3) wins the Transylvania Stakes with Guillaume Tell (center) and Rey de Cafe (rail) putting him to the supreme test on opening day at Keeneland.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Chattahoochee War Wins Transylvania Battle

Amerman Racing Stables' Chattahoochee War won the Central Bank Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Keeneland's opening day, but he had to battle hard to do it. The 3-year-old son of War Chant rallied to nip Guillaume Tell by a nose at the wire, then had to wait for the stewards to disallow an objection to secure the victory.

Three horses hit the line together in a dramatic finish to the one-mile Transylvania, with Chattahoochee War emerging in front in the photo. G. Watts Humphrey's Rey de Café had the lead in deep stretch, but was challenged in the final strides by Chattahoochee War with the late-rallying Guillaume Tell between them.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, aboard Guillaume Tell, lodged an objection against the Bobby Frankel-trained Chattahoochee War and rider Jerry Bailey. The head-on camera shot appeared to show that the winner did come in a little on the runner-up, but it was right at the line. The original order of finish was not changed.

"He's still really green," said Bailey afterward. "That other horse came out and hit us and that made him aggressive. I think that made the difference in the race."

Sent off at 3-1, Chattahoochee War paid $8.60, $4.40, and $3.40. Team Valor Stables' Guillaume Tell paid $4.60 and $3.40, while Rey de Café paid $3.40 to show. The exacta, 3-1, returned $43. The trifecta, 3-1-4 paid $152.20. Favored Dubleo finished fourth in the seven-horse field. Cosmic Kris was scratched.

The final time for the mile on turf was 1:35.28. The stakes record, set in 1998 by Dog Watch, is 1:34 3/5.

The pace was brisk early in the Transylvania as Moth Ball and Dubleo took over the field early, racing as a team around the first bend with daylight between them and the rest of the field. The opening quarter was run in :22.40 and the opening half was a quick :45.61. Tracking in third and fourth, respectively, were Rey de Café and Chattahoochee War.

Dubleo and Moth Ball traded for the lead down the backstretch and on the turn, with Dubleo taking over in the early stretch. He was quickly passed by Rey de Café and the son of Kingmambo opened a sizable lead in mid-stretch. As the leader drifted to the rail under J.J. Castellano, Chattahoochee War, and later Guillaume Tell, came charging down the center of the track.

From War Chant's first crop, Chattahoochee War is out of the Sri Pekan mare Buffalo Berry. He was bred in Kentucky by Edmund Loder. The bay colt was a $250,000 Keeneland September sale graduate.

Chattahoochee War now has three wins from five starts, all on turf. In Southern California, he broke his maiden at first asking going 6 1/2 furlongs Oct. 15 at Oak Tree, then ran fourth, behind Dubleo, in the Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park in late November. He started his 3-year-old campaign Jan. 15 with a half-length victory in the Hill Rise Stakes at Santa Anita, then ran fourth in the Pasadena Stakes March 19. All of his stakes starts have come at a mile.

(Chart, Equibase)