Dana Haugli, Homewrecker Racing and Ricki and Ron Rashinski's Sailor's Valentine had never run two turns on the dirt before, but on Saturday she stepped forward in a big way (at 22-1) to win the G1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland by a half-length. The sophomore daughter of Mizzen Mast, ridden by Corey Lanerie, covered 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:45.54 for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The victory earns Sailor's Valentine 100 points and likely a guaranteed berth to the Kentucky Oaks.
“We knew she liked the track,” said Kenneally. “She won here in October very impressively (in her career debut on Oct. 8). She came back here in late March and had a really good work over the track. We just decided we'd take a shot in the Ashland – mainly because she loves this track – and this is a very, very good track.”
Someday Soon jumped well from the starting gates and took off for a lead of one length over Sailor's Valentine, who moved over on the leader's outside to be just two paths off the rail around the first turn. Elate chased in third at the rail, with Tapped in good position on the outside through early fractions of :24.49 and :49.32. Someday Soon's lead began shrinking as Sailor's Valentine moved into striking position on her outside, and Daddys Lil Darling was beginning to make her move from the rear of the field.
At the head of the lane Someday Soon and Sailor's Valentine were nearly even, but Sailor's Valentine was moving the better of the two despite bumping slightly with Someday Soon. Racing away clear of the rival, Sailor's Valentine was quickly in front by several lengths, but Daddys Lil Darling was able to close that gap to just a half-length at the wire. Someday Soon did hold on to finish third.
“I hadn't been on her (in awhile),” said Lanerie. “Coming into the race, he (Eddie Kenneally) said, 'She's doing phenomenal. I look for her to run a big race. She's going maybe to be a longshot, but she's not going to run like one.' He was right.”
Race favorite Elate did not cross the wire, eased in the stretch, but walked off the track under her own power.
Bred in Kentucky by Curtis C. Green, Sailor's Valentine was a $100,000 purchase at the Keenland September sale. She won at first asking as a 2-year-old, but struggled to find the winner's circle again over sprint distances and even a turf route. In her first dirt route Sailor's Valentine walked away a Grade 1 winner, improving her career record to two wins from six starts and earnings of over $350,000.
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