Alwajeeha Holds Off Rival in Appalachian

Alwajeeha Holds Off Rival in Appalachian
Photo: Z/Keeneland
Alwajeeha (inside) gets her head down at the right time to take the Appalachian under John Velazquez.
Shadwell Stable’s homebred Alwajeeha outdueled I Lost My Choo in deep stretch and then held off a late bid by Sweepstake, taking the $125,000 Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) by a head April 16 on the Keeneland turf.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Alwajeeha captured the one-mile Appalachian while making her graded stakes debut. The 3-year-old daughter of Dixieland Band completed the eight furlongs under John Velazquez in 1:37.37 on a turf labeled ‘firm.’

Flying Zee Stable’s I Lost My Choo finished third as the betting favorite after taking the lead into the top of the stretch. The Western Expression   filly dueled hard, but probably cost herself a fourth consecutive victory on the first turn, when she threw her head wildly while losing ground under Edgar Prado. Sweepstake made a late run from the outside to finish a nose in front of I Lost My Choo.

Alwajeeha was making her fifth career start. She broke her maiden at Aqueduct back in November and then finished second in her first two sophomore starts, most recently finishing 2 ½ lengths back Feb. 22 in allowance company on the Gulfstream Park turf.

John Perrotta’s Mrs Petoski broke sharply from post 12 to grab the early lead, and carried that advantage through six furlongs. Mrs Petoski posted fractions of :24.54, :49.49 and 1:14.30. Despite her troubles in the early going, I Lost My Choo was in stalking position the entire way, while Fashion Rocks, Sweepstake and Much Obliged were also close up.

I Lost My Choo put away Mrs Petoski by the time they straightened away, but it was not long before she was challenged by Alwajeeha, who made her four-wide move out of the turn. With I Lost My Choo on the rail, those two dueled to the wire until Alwajeeha got the jump in the final strides. After being blocked in at the rail and then angling out under Garrett Gomez, Sweepstake made a bold run in the final sixteenth that was a bit too late.

"She’s super filly,” said Neal McLaughlin, assistant and brother of the trainer. “I want to congratulate Rick Nichols (vice president of Shadwell Stable) for talking to Kiaran. We decided to scratch her out of a race last week and run in the stakes today. He was right. She’s a stakes filly. We’re going to have a lot of fun with her this year.”

Out of the Seattle Slew mare Ridaa, Alwajeeha was making her second stakes appearance. In her 3-year-old debut Jan. 1, she finished second in the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder Race Course.

The winner paid $11.80, $6.20, $4.40. The exacta (9-6) returned $70.60, while the $1 trifecta (9-6-1) was worth $112.20.

Vancy Pants finished fourth, followed by Namaste's Wish, Much Obliged, Absolutely Cindy, Lickety Lemon, Mrs Petoski and Fashion Rocks.

(Chart, Equibase)

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