Miss Ella Holds on for Franklin County Score

Jack Swain III's Miss Ella held off a late charge from favored Fair Point by a neck to win the $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares Oct. 14 at Keeneland.

Trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Joel Rosario, Miss Ella covered the 5 1/2 furlongs on a firm turf course in 1:04.52. It was the third stakes victory of the Keeneland fall meet for Motion. Rosario recorded his second score in the Franklin County, following Free as a Bird in 2014.

The two fillies had finished a head apart, with Fair Point grabbing the victory, in the Smart N Fancy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 28 in their first meeting.

Melaleuca set the pace through a first quarter in :22.17, with Miss Ella racing in eighth and Fair Point 11th in the run down the backstretch.

Miss Ella began picking off horses going into the far turn, swung wide in the stretch, and hit the front in midstretch. She opened up a margin that was enough to hold off Fair Point.

The victory was worth $60,000 for Miss Ella and marked her second graded stakes victory at Keeneland. She won the Adena Springs Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on dirt during the 2015 spring meet.

"Great that this (race) was graded today," Motion said. "This filly, she's very tough. She can run on either surface. It's ironic that this is her first win on the turf, because I think she's actually better on the turf."

A 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Exchange Rate out of the Woodman mare Sweet Tune, Miss Ella boosted her earnings to $440,700 with a record of 5-2-1 from 13 starts.

Miss Ella, a Keeneland sales graduate, returned $8.20, $4, and $3.40. Fair Point, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $3.60 and $3. Smoke Signals, another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, paid $14 to show under James Graham.

Full Tap finished another three-quarters of a length back in fourth and was followed in order by Boom Bam Bing, Late Spring, Everything Lovely, Melaleuca, Scatter Gun, Touch of Bling, My Year Is a Day, and Mississippi Delta.

Racing continues Oct. 15 with a 10-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m. EDT that is headlined by the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane's End (gr. IT) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles. The Queen Elizabeth II will go as the ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. post time.