Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss' Keri Belle just nosed out Stormy Lucy for the 12-1 upset in Sunday's Grade III Megahertz Stakes At Santa Anita. The $100,000 contest for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up was held at one mile over the firm turf course.
The well-backed Glory broke the fastest out of the gate, though Chaulk O Lattey rushed up on the outside to press the issue almost immediately. Discarding that rival around the first turn, Glory regained her lead and strode out to set quick fractions of :22.79 and :46.71. Keri Belle settled third from last early, moved into the clear on the outside on the backstretch and began her run around the seven-sixteenths pole.
“Coming out of the gate I took hold,” said rider Alex Solis. “They went fast so it pushed her back even more but it worked out good because she was relaxed.”
The daughter of Empire Maker overcame the pace-setting Glory and Chaulk O Lattey by the sixteenth pole, only to feel the immediate presence of Stormy Lucy and Theatre Star rushing up her outside. Keri Belle dug in gamely, prevailing by a diminishing nose on the wire in a final time of 1:36.30. Steve Moger's Stormy Lucy was second for trainer Ed Moger Jr., and the recent Eclipse Award winner Leonard Lavin-owned Theatre Star finished just a neck back in third for trainer Tom Proctor.
Keri Belle was bred in Kentucky by her owners out of the multiple graded stakes winning Belleski, by Polish Numbers (Danzig). Trained by John Shirreffs, the 6-year-old mare won her fourth race in the Megahertz from 12 starts, and marked it her first graded stakes victory. Shirreffs said: “If you watch her races, she's got a beautiful way of going, she's got a big stride and she carries herself well. Turf racing, you've got to be a little bit lucky and today was her day.”
Keri Belle's jockey Alex Solis was actually the regular rider of the race's namesake, Megahertz. That filly was a nine-time stakes winner at Santa Anita trained by the late Bobby Frankel. ““We have a lot of great memories of Megahertz,” Solis recalled. “Last night, I was talking to the Daily Racing Form; they had a video of all of her races. It was so special to ride a filly like her and so special watching all of her races.”
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