Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez hit a major milestone on Saturday at Keeneland, earning his 50th stakes win at the track aboard Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley. Peter Brant's 4-year-old daughter of Myboycharlie was in mid-pack early on, but exploded in the final sixteenth to draw clear by about two lengths. Trained by Chad Brown, the 3-1 chance Sistercharlie completed 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:41.41. Race-favorite Dona Bruja (5-2) finished fifth.
“She's really matured and this was really a team effort,” Brown said. “After her (last) race last year (second on July 8 at Belmont Park), she got really sick on us. We have a great team of veterinarians that worked on her. She had a lung infection that turned real bad. We rested her and (owner) Peter Brant was very, very patient to give her all that time. My staff did a tremendous job bringing her back after such a lengthy layoff.”
Dona Bruja shot to the front out of the gate under Jose Ortiz and reeled off fractions of :23.48, :47.76 and 1:12.14 with La Coronel in closest pursuit. Leaving the far turn and approaching the head of the stretch, the two opened a daylight advantage that was quickly devoured by Sistercharlie.
In deep stretch, Fourstar Crook surged through on the rail to gain second, and Off Limits rallied widest of all to claim third.
Sistercharlie covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course labeled firm in 1:41.41. The victory was worth $210,000 and increased Sistercharlie's earnings to $731,403 with a record of 7-4-2-0.
Sistercharlie returned $8.80, $5.40 and $4.20. Fourstar Crook, ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $7.20 and $4.40 with Off Limits paying $3.80 to show under Joel Rosario.
La Coronel finished another half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Dona Bruja, Cambodia, Kitten's Roar, Proctor's Ledge, Bletchley (GB), Ultra Brat and Lovely Bernadette.
“I got good position going to the first turn, a position where I wanted to be,” relayed Velazquez. “She sat really well. By the three-eighths pole, I knew I was in a good position – just looking for where I was going to shoot through. I got through the rail. Had the best horse.”
Bred in Ireland by Ecurie Des Monceaux, Sistercharlie was a $13,592 yearling at Arqana. She is out of an unraced daughter of Galileo. In France, the filly won a Group 3 event and was second in a Group 1; her first start in the United States was last July in the G1 Belmont Oaks, in which she finished second to New Money Honey by a neck. The Jenny Wiley was her first start since the Belmont Oaks, and improves her record to four wins and two seconds from seven starts for earnings of over $720,000.
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