Louis Lazzinnaro’s favored Conquest Babayaga took advantage of a ground-saving trip from Joel Rosario to win Thursday’s $76,000 featured Saxony Purse for fillies and mares by three-quarters of a length over Queenofthepalace (NZ) before a crowd of 11,538.
Trained by Chad Brown, Conquest Babayaga covered the mile on a firm turf course in 1:35.78.
Conquest Babayaga, a Keeneland sales graduate, is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Uncle Mo out of the Lawyer Ron mare Undercover Justice. The victory was worth $45,600 and increased Conquest Babayaga’s earnings to $147,460 with a record of 6-4-1-0.
Conquest Babayaga returned $5, $4 and $2.80. Queenofthepalace, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $11.80 and $5.80 with Insta Erma finishing another head back in third under Julien Leparoux and returning $3.40 to show.
Racing continues Friday with a 10-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET and featuring the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare will go as the afternoon’s ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. post time.
On Friday, Keeneland will hold a Jockey Autograph Signing from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The event, which features retired and active jockeys, will be held adjacent to the Paddock. Among those scheduled to appear are two Hall of Famers: Keeneland’s all-time leading rider, Pat Day, winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Lil E. Tee, and two-time Derby winner Chris McCarron; and Jean Cruguet, who rode Seattle Slew to victory in the 1977 Triple Crown.
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WINNER IRAP SLATED TO WORK FRIDAY
Reddam Racing’s Irap, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) on April 8, is scheduled to work Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET on the main track with Julien Leparoux aboard.
Trainer Doug O’Neill is slated to be on hand for the work as he seeks his third victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Leparoux was aboard for Irap’s victory here but Mario Gutierrez will have the Derby mount.
Irap had an easy morning Thursday, jogging twice around Keeneland’s 5-furlong all-weather training track with exercise rider Antonio Romero aboard.
Also scheduled to work at 8:30 a.m. Friday is Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tapwrit for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Owned by Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert LaPenta, Tapwrit finished fifth behind Irap in the Toyota Blue Grass. Jockey Jose Ortiz is scheduled to be aboard for the work.
Baldo Hernandez, assistant to trainer Chad Brown, said Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Toyota Blue Grass runner-up, Practical Joke, is scheduled to work Saturday morning, but those plans might change because the Saturday weather forecast calls for rain. Brown is to return to Keeneland this afternoon.
Also watching the weather is Kenny McPeek, who trains Normandy Farm’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) runner-up, Daddys Lil Darling. He originally had planned to work the filly Saturday morning. However, he might move the work to Friday and send her out at 6:15 a.m. Robby Albarado is to be aboard.
PACO LOPEZ GETS FIRST KEENELAND STAKES VICTORY AND QUICKLY DOUBLES UP
It has been a very good five days for jockey Paco Lopez.
The 31-year-old native of Mexico, who earned the Eclipse Award as North America’s top apprentice in 2008, made his way into the Keeneland records on Saturday by winning his first two stakes here. Following a three-day break with his family in South Florida, Lopez again found the winner’s circle on his first mount Wednesday, Amberspatriot for John Hancock.
Lopez, who first rode at Keeneland during the 2012 Fall Meet, on April 15 won the Ben Ali (G3) on Watershed and topped off the day with the head victory by Dickinson over Lady Eli in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1).
“I could have gone inside or outside,” Lopez said of the stretch run. “Lady Eli got the jump on me, but I was confident Dickinson could run her down.”
Lopez has won all three times he has ridden the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee.
“The first time I saw her run was at Parx and she won really easily,” Lopez said of the Sept. 6 allowance race that Dickinson won by 4½ lengths in her grass debut. In that race, Lopez finished third, nearly 10 lengths back on another entrant.
Lopez picked up the mount on Dickinson for the Feb. 11 Suwannee River (G3) when previous rider John Velazquez was out of town for the day.
“She pulled away real easy that day at Gulfstream,” said Lopez, who followed that victory with a score in the Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 11.
Dickinson is pointing to the $700,000 Just A Game (G1) at a mile at Belmont Park on June 10 and a possible rematch with Lady Eli, who is undefeated in four starts over the Belmont turf.
“A lot can happen with these fillies,” Lopez said about the possibility of meeting Lady Eli again. “But my filly, she is a very nice filly.”
ITSINTHEPOST (FR) BRINGS JEFF MULLINS BACK TO KENTUCKY
The most recent time trainer Jeff Mullins ventured from his Southern California base to race in Kentucky was eight years ago when he was preparing I Want Revenge for what would have been the trainer’s fifth Kentucky Derby (G1) starter.
However, on the morning of the Derby, I Want Revenge was declared from the race because of filling in his left front ankle.
“I haven’t been back to Kentucky to race since,” Mullins said Thursday morning prior to watching Red Baron’s Barn LLC’s Itsinthepost (FR) train on the main track.
Mullins has started six horses at Keeneland, none since 2009. On Saturday in the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) on the grass, Itsinthepost will attempt to give Mullins his first Keeneland stakes victory.
“I ran one here in the Shakertown,” Mullins said of his most recent stakes try here when Mighty Beau finished second in 2005.
Mullins took over the training of Itsinthepost when Darrell Vienna retired last spring. For Mullins, Itsinthepost has started nine times with three wins and five seconds. The most recent victory came in the 1½-mile San Luis Rey (G2) on March 25 at Santa Anita.
“There was nothing for him at home,” Mullins said of the decision to ship east. “There is a 1¾-mile race Saturday (the San Juan Capistrano-G3), but it’s only $100,000.
“It was either here or Charles Town (for Saturday’s $1.25 million Charles Town Classic-G3 at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt). He works on the training track at Santa Anita and loves it and it is a bullring (five-eighths of a mile) like Charles Town (which is 6 furlongs).
“I thought we might take a shot there, but I looked at the nominations and thought we’d better stay on the grass.”
With rain in the forecast beginning late Friday night and continuing Saturday, Itsinthepost might not encounter the fast and firm conditions he is used to in California.
“I haven’t looked back at his European form,” Mullins said of the 5-year-old gelding, who had his first five starts in France. “But he ran well in an off-the-turf race (the Grade 3 San Gabriel on Jan. 7) for us, finishing second.”
Regular rider Tyler Baze, who also is seeking his initial Keeneland stakes victory, has the mount Saturday.
Kentucky Oaks (G1) hopeful Wicked Lick worked a half-mile in :48 under trainer Brendan Walsh on the fast main track after the Thursday morning renovation break.
“It was a good work,” Walsh said. “She did it well on her own; sometimes she is a little lazy. She probably will go to Churchill Downs after this weekend and then, weather permitting, work one day next weekend.”
Owned and bred by Lee Mauberret, Wicked Lick finished second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start.
Trainer John Ortiz earned his first Keeneland victory Wednesday when he sent out Thomas Julian’s Kirby’s Penny to win the sixth race. Channing Hill rode the 4-year-old Macho Uno filly to win the 1-mile race by a nose in 1:37.06.
From Keeneland Communications