That grit was on display April 14 at Keeneland, where the 5-year-old daughter of Hat Trick dug deep to run down European champion Lady Aurelia in the final sixteenth of the $100,000 Giant's Causeway Stakes, giving Sharp his first Keeneland stakes score in the process.
In excellent form off a successful winter at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, where she won the Jan. 6 Pan Zareta Stakes and the March 10 Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes—and finished third in two other black-type events—Triple Chelsea rated off the pace in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, then extended her stride when called upon by jockey Adam Beschizza off the turn for home.
"She's just blossomed since we got her," Sharp said. "She was in great condition when we got her, and we just found her niche. Adam learned her timing and knew she needed to sit off (the pace) a little bit, and today everything just worked out."
Lady Aurelia, who made her season debut as a 3-5 favorite in a race she won last year, and second choice Morticia dueled for the lead in the early stretch after 116-1 shot Brave Daisey briefly showed the way through a quarter in :22.26. But after Lady Aurelia put away Morticia, 8-1 Triple Chelsea rolled by with powerful momentum to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
The final time was 1:02.40 on a firm turf course, and the winner returned $18.60, $5.20, and $3. Morticia held for third by a length and was followed by Excessivespending and Jennifer Lynnette to complete the top five.
Although Lady Aurelia was defeated in her first start off a 10th in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) at Del Mar, trainer Wesley Ward was satisfied with her effort off the bench. He said the 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly is on course for a return to Europe for the third straight year. Her international conquests include the 2016 Queen Mary Stakes (G2) and Darley Prix Morny (G1) and the 2017 King's Stand Stakes (G1).
"She ran a good race, and any time you're coming off a layoff, you're always a little vulnerable," Ward said. "Last year in this race, she was a little more relaxed. Johnny (Velazquez) said that the rider on the longshot (Rogelio Miranda on Brave Daisey) was chirping to his horse and hustling his filly along, and that kind of kept Lady Aurelia from being as relaxed as she was last year. I take nothing away from the winner. She beat us on the square. (Lady Aurelia) hadn't had a race and now she has, so she should be ready."
It was the third stakes victory in four starts this year for Triple Chelsea, who has finished no worse than third since being claimed by her current connections. Bred in Kentucky by Liberty Road Stables out of the Ocean of Wisdom mare Oceane Music, she now has an 8-2-6 record from 20 starts, with $368,789 in earnings. She was a $22,000 purchase by Calvin Johnston from Gainesway's consignment to the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
"The race panned out beautifully. She's definitely a filly that likes to be in a nice stalking position, and we were following the right horses into the final eighth," said Beschizza, who also earned his first Keeneland stakes win.
"(She) won two of four at the Fair Grounds," Sharp added. "At this time of year, options for turf sprinting fillies are a little limited. I felt she was in as good form as she's ever been. I wasn't excited to see Lady Aurelia in the entries, but it worked out."