Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Peter Deutsch's Spiced Perfection was a determined winner of Saturday's G1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland, heading Amy's Challenge in the lane and out-dueling her to the wire to win by a neck. The 4-year-old daughter of Smiling Tiger, ridden by the red-hot Javier Castellano for his third win on the card, covered seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:23.49. Spiced Perfection was sent off at odds of 9-2 for trainer Peter Miller.
“It looked easy, but it's not easy,” Castellano said. “Had to work hard a bit. When this filly passed the other horse (Amy's Challenge), she thought 'OK, I'm done.' Had to ride her a little hard to keep the rhythm. I liked the way she did it. Very professional. Wonderful filly.”
Amy's Challenge was a respectable second, and it was several lengths back to Late Night Pow Wow in third. America's Tale was fourth and champion Shamrock Rose finished fifth.
Down the stretch, Cathedral Reader appeared to take a bad step and was pulled up by jockey Brian Hernandez. The filly was later euthanized.
“On what was an otherwise spectacular day, our celebration is tempered due to the catastrophic injury sustained by Cathedral Reader during the running of the Madison,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “We have spoken with Ms. Gayle Benson's Racing Manager, Greg Bensel, and trainer Dallas Stewart, expressing our sympathy for their loss. As is the law in Kentucky, the horse will be transported to the University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab for a complete necropsy.
“Keeneland, in full cooperation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will perform a full investigation, which includes continued evaluation of race track surface conditions, forensic review of past race performances, veterinary records, and personal interviews with the jockey, trainer and attending veterinarian. Keeneland has received nothing but positive feedback about the racing surface since it reopened in mid-March from the winter break. As is Keeneland's normal procedure, we will review and evaluate all facets of our racing operation to ensure the safest possible environment for the equine and human athletes participating in our racing program. For an overview of Keeneland's safety protocols and initiatives, visit Keeneland.com/safety.”
Amy's Challenge was very quick out of the gate and took command down the backstretch, leading Spiced Perfection by about three-quarters of a length through fractions of :22.56 and :45.53. Divine Queen and America's Tale were also up close, while Late Night Pow Wow found herself fifth and wide in the early going.
Rounding the far turn, Spiced Perfection ranged up alongside Amy's Challenge and tried to take command turning for home. Amy's Challenge battled back at the eighth pole, briefly re-taking her lead, but Spiced Perfection also dug in and hit the wire a neck in front. Amy's Challenge had to settle for second, while Late Night Pow Wow checked in third.
“There is such a big crowd here that she was nervous in the post parade,” said jockey Alex Canchari, who rode Amy's Challenge. “I tried to get her to relax warming up. I know I could have beaten that horse (Spiced Perfection) if she was a little more relaxed. She ran a hard race and (Spiced Perfection) won a Grade 1 race at Santa Anita. This field is a tough bunch of horses. The winner passed me by about a neck in the stretch and my filly came back and I passed her. But the winner just dug in and got me right on the wire.”
Bred in California by Premier Thoroughbreds, Spiced Perfection was a $50,000 juvenile purchase at the Barretts March sale. She stayed in state-bred company through much of 2018, finally stepping up in the G1 La Brea in December and getting her first G1 win. Overall, Spiced Perfection has won seven of her 16 starts for earnings of approximately $850,000.
“To win for these owners with this filly, it means a lot to me, and to win here at Keeneland,” Miller said. “(It was a) great ride by Javier and I'm happy for the whole team. She ran great, she deserved it. She's got a huge heart. She's not a big filly. She's not impressive to look at, but she's impressive to watch run.
“We're going to leave her here in Kentucky, and give her a couple of easy weeks. Hopefully we can run her in the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Derby weekend.”
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