Her last start was a runner-up finish in the July 8 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park, but Peter Brant's Sistercharlie was primed for a big effort off the bench April 14 in the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland.
The 4-year-old daughter of Myboycharlie rewarded her team's dedication when she shifted out with a strong rally and won the 1 1/16-mile test on firm turf by 2 1/4 lengths. Her top-level victory came after months spent nursing her back to health from the severe lung infection that derailed the remainder of her 2017 season.
"After her (last) race last year (the Belmont Oaks), she got really sick on us," trainer Chad Brown said. "We have a great team of veterinarians that worked on her. She had a lung infection that turned real bad. We rested her and Peter Brant was very, very patient to give her all that time. My staff did a tremendous job bringing her back after such a lengthy layoff."
Reserved early by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez—who collected his 50th Keeneland stakes score—Sistercharlie got a rail-skimming trip mid-pack after favored Dona Bruja shot to the front out of the gate under Jose Ortiz and reeled off fractions of :23.48, :47.76, and 1:12.14 with La Coronel in close pursuit. Leaving the far turn and approaching the head of the stretch, the two opened a daylight advantage that was quickly eliminated once Sistercharlie made her move.
"I got good position going to the first turn, a position where I wanted to be," Velazquez said. "She sat really well. By the three-eighths pole, I knew I was in a good position—just looking for where I was going to shoot through. I got through ... and had the best horse."
It was the first win in the United States for Sistercharlie. Bred in Ireland by Ecurie Des Monceaux out of the Galileo mare Starlet's Sister, she was a group 3 winner in France and finished second in the 2017 Prix de Diane Longines (G1) before she was imported by Brant.
"She's really matured, and this was really a team effort," Brown said.
The final time on a turf course labeled firm was 1:41.41. The victory increased Sistercharlie's earnings to $731,403, with four wins and two seconds from seven starts. She returned $8.80, $5.40, and $4.20.
Brown trainees completed the Jenny Wiley trifecta, as Fourstar Crook surged through on the rail to finish second and Off Limits rallied widest of all to claim third. La Coronel finished another half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Dona Bruja, Cambodia, Kitten's Roar, Proctor's Ledge, Bletchley, Ultra Brat, and Lovely Bernadette.