Lucifer's Stone and Western Ransom hooked up in a thrilling stretch duel in Wednesday's $113,500 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, with jockey Jose Santos moving Lucifer's Stone to the outside of Western Ransom to score a head win.
Honey Ryder finished 4 1/4 lengths back for third. The final time of the mile race was 1:37. 58.
The winner returned $6, $3.80, $2.80, with Western Ransom returning $7.20 and $4.20. Honey Ryder paid $3 for the show effort. The exacta paid $45.60 with the trifecta returning $136.
Mocha Queen lead the field of nine through fractions of:24.35 for the opening quarter and :48.63 for the half-mile and 1:13.15 for three-quarters. As the field rounded the turn for home Mocha Queen and Western Ransom were racing closely before Santos and Lucifer's Stone moved about five wide rounding the turn to set up a duel down the stretch. Lucifer's Stone and Western Ransom raced closely with Santos dropping his whip mere jumps before the wire.
"She's been improving every start," said Santos. "Today, she got hit in the face with the whip and poked in the eye and she still won. My filly was much the best today."
Linda Rice conditions Lucifer's Stone for John Ball's Team Solaris Stable. The 3-year-old daughter of Horse Chestnust, who was bred in Kentucky by Mega Stable, entered the Appalachian off a half-length win in the Feb. 4 Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park. She has won three races in a row and four of her last five.
"We've been pointing for this race ever since her last race at Gulfstream," said Rice. "We were a little worried that the distance might be a little short for her but she was very impressive today."