La Coronel wins the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

La Coronel wins the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Keeneland/Coady Photography

La Coronel Carries High Hopes Once More in Endeavour

Trainer Mark Casse hopes daughter of Colonel John follows path of champion Tepin.

Mark Casse has always felt comfortable asking a lot of La Coronel.

Shortly after she broke her maiden in eye-popping fashion over the turf in September of 2016, Casse touted the daughter of Colonel John as the next great grass talent to carry the banner for his shedrow. She has responded in kind with four graded stakes wins, including a top-level triumph to close out her sophomore season. 

As John Oxley's filly readies for her 4-year-old debut in the Feb. 10 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes (G3T) at Tampa Bay Downs, Casse again is putting some ambitious hopes on her dark bay shoulders.

"We're kind of looking at trying to go a similar path as we did with Tepin when she was older," Casse said, referring to the two championship campaigns his former stable star put together. "That's our hopes and dreams."

La Coronel will have her work cut out in her first attempt to emulate her former two-time Eclipse Award winning stablemate when she faces seven challengers in the 1 1/16-mile Endeavour Stakes.

Tepin used the Endeavour as a launching pad to what was her second championship season, capturing the race in 2016 to kick off a historic season that saw the brilliant daughter of Bernstein win grade/group 1 races in three countries. No one is daring to put La Coronel's name in that category yet, but the filly has shown a sustained progression her still young career.

After opening her 2017 season with a runner-up finish in the Florida Oaks (G3T), La Coronel notched back-to-back graded wins over some of the best in her division—most notably defeating the like of 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) winner New Money Honey in the Appalachian Stakes presented by Japan Racing Association (G3T) at Keeneland last April. Though she suffered three straight losses beginning with a trip to Royal Ascot where she ran fifth behind multiple group 1 winner Winter in the Coronation Stakes (G1), La Coronel was back to her best self by season's end when she won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Lane's End (G1T) at Keeneland in October.

"For her to win (the QEII) was special simply because we've kind of touted her forever for how good she is," Casse said. "She actually had struggled some with (maturity). She was fine but it was almost like that trip to England, she came back a little more riled up and uptight. 

"It's going to be interesting to see how she handles this year. We just want to  get her started here. We know she likes Keeneland (unbeaten in three starts) so we're looking at that and we're going to try and get her on a similar path as we did with Tepin."

La Coronel has five wins from 12 starts with $754,844 in earnings. Jose Lezcano will have the mount Saturday.

Among those who figure to give La Coronel a stout test is Dona Bruja, who won two graded stakes last year after being imported from Argentina, where she was 8-for-10. Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, Dona Bruja fell just a half length short of winning the Beverly D. Stakes (G1T) last August and closed out her season with a fourth-place finish in the First Lady Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland.

Trainer Graham Motion has Westit, runner-up in the 2017 Tropical Park Oaks, cross entered in the Endeavour and the Suwannee River Stakes (G3T) the same day at Gulfstream Park and said via text message he is leaning toward the latter for the daughter of Tapit .

Entries: Lambholm South Endeavour S. (G3T)

Tampa Bay Downs, Saturday, February 10, 2018, Race 9

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $175,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:20 PM (local)
11Truly Together (KY)Joel Rosario116Michael R. Matz6/1
22Dona Bruja (ARG)Jose L. Ortiz120Ignacio Correas, IV9/5
33Westit (GB)Manuel Franco116H. Graham Motion5/1
44America Mon Amie (IL)Pedro L. Cotto, Jr.116Joan Scott20/1
55Lovely Loyree (IL)Daniel Centeno116Michele Boyce10/1
66Josdesanimaux (FL)Pablo Morales116Joseph Arboritanza15/1
77La Coronel (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Lezcano120Mark E. Casse2/1
88Viva Vegas (LA)Jesus Lopez Castanon116Derek S. Ryan12/1