Country Star Outshines Contenders in Alcibiades
by Jason Shandler
Date Posted: 10/5/2007 6:27:59 PM
Last Updated: 10/7/2007 11:24:01 AM

Country Star kicks clear in the Alcibiades.
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Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Stonerside Stable’s Country Star entered the $500,000 Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) (VIDEO) as one of only two juveniles without a win to her credit. It did not matter, as the Empire Maker filly showed a finishing kick that was plenty good enough to earn a one-length victory on Keeneland’s Polytrack in the opening day feature Oct. 5.

Out of Metfield mare Rings a Chime, Country Star rated four-wide for jockey Rafael Bejarano throughout most of the backstretch, staying well back of longtime leaders Dreaming of Liz, Morakami and Grace Anatomy, who set the pace through three-quarters.

Dreaming of Liz, coming off a win in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III), set fractions of :24.23 and :49.69 before giving way to A to the Croft. As they straightened away in the 1 1/16-mile test, Dreaming of Liz was fading while jockey Mike Smith moved Grace Anatomy four-wide to a short lead. A to the Croft, who was settled early, also was making her late charge on the outside.

But Bejarano began to steadily move Country Star, who had drifted toward the middle of the racetrack. Despite the wide move, the Bobby Frankel-trained filly had more than enough to get by A to the Croft at the wire, breaking her maiden in grand style.

“The horse broke really good. I didn't try to break so close to the pace; I knew the speed was no good,” said Bejarano. “So when I saw about a half-mile into the race (that) the other horses were tiring, I edged her up a little bit. When I came to the turn I was pretty clear, and then I set her down to run and the horse gave me it all. She just exploded. She's a really professional horse."

Before the Alcibiades, Country Star, who was bred by Stonerside's Robert and Janice McNair, made her only start Sept. 20 on the Belmont turf, running second. Her dam, Rings a Chime, also won a grade I race at Keeneland but on the old dirt track, taking the 2000 Ashland Stakes.

It was unclear whether Frankel, who was in New York, would send the homebred to the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 27 at Monmouth.

“We have to praise Bobby (Frankel) and his entire team. They did an unbelievable job of getting this filly fit,” said Stonerside racing manager John Adger. “I was impressed, but we've thought a lot of her for a long time. She did it today. She was absolutely fabulous."

Country Star, whose final time was 1:45.85, paid $10.40 to win. The exacta (10-12) with A to the Croft was worth $59.20. Grace Anatomy, who broke in the air and then was rushed up into contention, was another neck back in third, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Initiation. Grace Anatomy trainer Doug O’Neill said his filly would make the trip to the Breeders’ Cup.

Betting favorite Irish Smoke, who was coming off a win in the Sept. 2 Spinaway (gr. I) at Saratoga, bobbled at the start and never factored, finishing last.

(Chart, Equibase)



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