Semaphore Racing LLC and Homewrecker Racing LLC’s Sailor’s Valentine was sent off the second longest shot on the board at 22-1 in Saturday’s $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, but that didn’t stop the gray lass from getting the half-length win under Corey Lanerie.
The duo settled into a stalking spot three wide just behind the pacesetting Someday Soon through splits of :24.49, :49.32 and 1:14.06. Angling out into the four path in the lane, Sailor’s Valentine collared that rival and had enough left to hold off the rallying Daddys Lil Darling to complete 1 1/16 miles over Keeneland’s fast main track in 1:45.54.
Sailor’s Valentine not only took home the winner’s share of the purse, which boosted the Mizzen Mast filly’s career earnings to $359,214, but also 100 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Ashland is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and awarded 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four finishers.
Sailor’s Valentine paid $46.40 for the win over Daddys Lil Darling, who was 1 1/4 lengths in front of Someday Soon on the wire. Tapped completed the superfecta another half-length back and was followed under the line by Summer Luck and Pretty City Dancer.
Meanie Irenie hit the gate at the start, steadied going into the first turn and was eventually eased in the stretch and walked off. Elate, the even-money favorite, pulled up in the lane and was vanned off.
Sailor’s Valentine finished off-the-board in her only other two tries against stakes company, running fourth by 3 1/2 lengths in the Rags to Riches Stakes last October at Churchill Downs and fifth by 12 lengths in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in her January 17 seasonal bow.
Throw those races out, though, and the Eddie Kenneally trainee broke her maiden by 3 1/4 lengths and ran decent seconds against allowance/optional claiming company. Her overall record now stands at 6-2-2-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Curtis C. Green, Sailor’s Valentine is the first registered stakes winner out of the Tale of the Cat mare Sortilege. Her third dam is multiple Grade 1 queen Coup de Fusil, and this female family also includes Grade 1 hero and Canadian champion Lukes Alley as well as Group 1-winning sire Elusive City.
Eddie Kenneally, trainer Sailor’s Valentine, winner
“We knew she liked the track. She won here in October very impressively (in her career debut on October 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.”
On whether Sailor’s Valentine will race next in the Kentucky Oaks (G1)
“Certainly, if everything goes well.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey Sailor’s Valentine, winner
“I hadn’t been on her (in awhile). 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.”
Robby Albarado, jockey Daddys Lil Darling, second
“It was a phenomenal trip. (The pace) was slow up front and that didn’t help me any, but she finished up well and I’m proud of her. I feel like the further (the distance) the better with her. She’s a nice filly.”
Kenny McPeek, trainer Daddys Lil Darling, second
“She ran a great race. Robby did a great job on her. He just sat still and waited and waited. He just couldn’t run them down. He said if the (race were a bit longer) he probably wins by two (lengths). But we’re pleased. This is about where we wanted to be. Of course you want to win, but she’s a special filly. I’m sure she’ll go to the Kentucky Oaks – no doubt.”
Jose Lezcano, jockey Someday Soon, third
“I had a very good trip. She broke right on top, and when I asked she gave me her best. She tried hard. She did everything right. She is a very trying filly.”
Will VanMeter, trainer Someday Soon, third
“We are really proud of her. The race played out the way we thought it would when we were handicapping before we entered. I am not sure about the Kentucky Oaks – that is up to the owner. I doubt she would get this kind of race set-up in the Oaks but if we are eligible (based on points), we might take a shot.”