June 5, 2023

Insta Erma prevails late; Moonlight Romance, Proforma record Kentucky Downs stakes wins

Proforma wins the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs on September 8, 2018, under jockey Joe Bravo (c) Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos

Insta Erma rallied last to first in Saturday’s $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) at Kentucky Downs, getting up in the final strides to score by a neck over Valadorna. Based in California with Richard Baltas, the five-year-old mare was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke.

The Ladies Turf was one of four stakes on the Kentucky Turf Cup Day undercard.

Off as the 6-1 fifth choice among eight rivals, Insta Erma returned from a 126-day hiatus and earned her first graded stakes triumph. She’s campaigned by Medallion Racing, Premier Racing Club, Jerry McClanahan and Christopher Johnson. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile opened 2018 with a runner-up in the Megahertz (G3) and rebounded from a pair of unplaced finishes in the May 5 Distaff Turf Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs and February 17 Buena Vista (G2) at Santa Anita.

She captured the Swingtime at Santa Anita last fall and now shows a 19-5-4-2 career line. Insta Erma finished a mile over the good turf in 1:36.26. Valadorna came next at 13-1 odds, two lengths better than 9-2 Pas de Soucis in third.

Campaigned Ken & Sarah Ramsey’s Moonlight Romance proved much the best in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Sprint, tracking the pace before accelerating clear into the stretch. The two-year-old daughter of Liason recorded a three-length decision over male rivals and notched her first stakes win. Jose Ortiz was up for Wesley Ward and the dark bay lass completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.91 as the 8-5 favorite among 10 runners.

Second when making her debut on Keeneland’s main track, Moonlight Romance broke her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths when switching to turf for her second start at Belmont Park on May 24. She shipped to Royal Ascot but broke slowly and never challenged in the June 23 Windsor Castle.

A top contender for the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on November 2, Moonlight Romance was purchased for $42,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. Life Mission wound up a non-threatening second.

Proforma denied 5-2 favorite White Flag by a head in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3). Trained by Michael Stidham and ridden by Joe Bravo, the Darrs Inc. colorbearer left the starting gate as the 7-1 fifth choice in the eight-horse field and rallied from midpack to notch his first turf stakes victory.

The four-year-old Munnings gelding is a two-time stakes victor on the main track and improved his overall scorecard to 10-4-0-4. Proforma was exiting a third in the grassy Wolf Hill at Monmouth on July 29 and traveled 6 1/2 furlongs in a course record 1:15.72.

In the $450,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3), Silverton Farms’ homebred Ruby Notion edged even-money favorite Lull by a neck. A 27-1 upset winner of the July 23 Caress Stakes at Saratoga in her previous outing, the five-year-old mare registered her fourth overall stakes tally and initial graded win.

Florent Geroux was up for Darrin Miller and the West Virginia-bred daughter of Great Notion stepped 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.80.

Ruby Notion was off as the 3-1 second choice and improved her career record to 14-6-0-3.