Courtland Farm's Film Maker, in spite of some bumping in the stretch, overcame Maiden Tower by a nose to win the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland on Saturday.
An inquiry into the exciting stretch run resulted in no change in the order of finish. Film Maker, closing on the outside of Maiden Tower in deep stretch after the pacesetter had drawn clear briefly, appeared to veer in and bump the runner-up twice.
"She got bothered right before the wire," Maiden Tower's jockey, David Flores, complained. "I kept my line. I got bumped hard twice just before the wire. My filly went sideways. I got beat for that reason."
Ridden by Edgar Prado for trainer Graham Motion, Film Maker collected her first grade I win in her first attempt. A winner of four of nine career starts, the dark bay daughter of Dynaformer was coming off a third-place finish in the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) at Saratoga on Aug. 17. She won the Lake George (gr. IIIT) at the Spa prior to that for her first graded stakes victory.
Prado swept Keeneland's three grade I races run during the fall meeting. Previously, he won the Shadwell Turf Mile aboard Perfect Soul (IRE) and the Overbrook Spinster with Take Charge Lady. He disputed Flores' description of the home stretch battle.
"We got to the lead a couple of jumps before the wire," Prado contended. "The other horse (Maiden Tower) made the initial contact and after that made one more. There was a little contact, but I thought the stewards made the right decision. We had a great trip. My filly ran very hard."
Motion did not rule out a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita in two weeks.
"I'm so confused I don't even know what end is up," Motion said. "We decided at the end of the Saratoga meet to point to this race. She trained up to this race beautifully."
The 1 1/8-mile turf test was completed in 1:47 4/5. Casual Look, ridden by Robby Albarado, was a fast-closing third, three quarters of a length behind the winner. Indy 500, the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10 who was coming off a four-length victory in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT), finished last.
Making her first start in the United States, Darley Stable's Maiden Tower, the winner of a group II race in France in her last start, nearly went from gate to wire. She set a decent pace of :23 3/5 for the opening quarter-mile, :47 3/5 for the half and 1:11 3/5 for six furlongs.
With Ocean Drive on her inside and Sand Springs ranging into contention on the outside, Flores sent Maiden Tower into overdrive and she opened up for a moment, only to be caught on the wire by Film Maker.
Film Maker, who rated in fourth through the opening three quarters of a mile, earned $310,000 to push her career earnings to $459,860.
TAC Holdings bred Film Maker, produced by Miss Du Bois (by Mr. Prospector), in Kentucky.
Sent off at 11-1, the winner paid $25.20, $10 and $6.40. Maiden Tower returned $6.60 and $4.80. Casual Look's show price was $4.80. The $2 exacta was worth $168.80.
Ocean Drive finished fourth, followed, in order, by Campsie Fells (UAE), Aud, Spoken Fur, Personal Legend, Sand Springs and Indy Five Hundred. The attendance Saturday was 24,823.