January 26, 2022

Spiced Perfection outduels Amy’s Challenge; Imprimis, Bobby’s Wicked One win Keeneland stakes

Spiced Perfection outduels a game Amy's Challenge in the Madison at Keeneland (c) EquiSport Photos/Wendy Wooley

A thrilling rendition of the $250,000 Madison (G1) highlighted Saturday’s undercard at Keeneland as Spiced Perfection narrowly defeated Amy’s Challenge, posting a neck victory after a stretch-long battle.

Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders were in the spotlight in the Blue Grass (G1) and Ashland (G1) and the seven-furlong Madison served as one of three supporting stakes on the centerpiece program.

Now a two-time Grade 1 winner, Spiced Perfection picked up her fifth overall stakes triumph and left the starting gate as the 9-2 fourth choice among nine runners with Javier Castellano. The four-year-old filly made her second start for Peter Miller following a head second in the February 16 Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel Park and has now bankrolled $$852,405 from a 16-7-5-2 career record.

California-bred Spiced Perfection came on strong at the end of last year while conditioned by Brian Koriner, easily defeating state-breds in the Betty Gable at Del Mar and posting a 1 ¼-length score in the La Brea (G1) in her 2018 finale. She’s won four of her last six starts and is campaigned by Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch.

A daughter of Smiling Tiger, Spiced Perfection tracked 5-2 Amy’s Challenge through fractions of :22.56 and :45.53 before advancing to engage her front-running rival leaving the far turn. It was a tight battle to the wire, with Spiced Perfection appearing to take a short lead in midstretch and Amy’s Challenge battling back to the fore, but the winner got the upperhand in the final strides and stopped the teletimer in 1:23.49.

It was a 6 ¾-length margin back to Late Night Pow Wow in third. America’s Tale came next and 9-5 favorite and reigning female sprint champion Shamrock Rose wound up fifth.

Bred by Premier Thoroughbreds, Spiced Perfection counts Cal-bred stakes winner Cruel Intention as a full-brother.

Bobby’s Wicked One kicked off the stakes action with a wire-to-wire score in the $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) at seven furlongs, holding last year’s winner, Warrior’s Club, safe by a 1 ¼-length margin. The four-year-old colt registered his first stakes victory and Al Stall Jr. trains for Autumn Hill Farms Racing Stables.

Off at 13-1, Bobby’s Wicked One broke sharply from post 9 and was hustled by Miguel Mena to the front, quickly crossing over to set the pace along the inside. He led by a half-length through splits in :22.88 and :46.30 and accelerated to a clear lead in upper stretch. Warrior’s Club offered a nice run to reach a threatening position but could not sustain his momentum late, winding up a half-length clear of third-placer and six-time stakes victor Limousine Liberal at 10-1.

Stakes-placed at Delta Downs and Mahoning Valley last year, Bobby’s Wicked One stretched his win streak to three after opening this year with a pair of convincing wins over allowance foes at Fair Grounds. The chestnut son of Speightstown has now won four-of-10 career starts, also recording three seconds and a third, and increased his earnings to $318,080. The $130,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase was bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass and hails from the Ghostzapper mare Wicked Charm, a half-sister to turf champion English Channel.

Imprimis overcame a stumbling start to prevail a neck in the  $200,000 Shakertown (G2), nailing pacesetter Bound for Nowhere in the final stages.  A 3 ¼-length winner of the March 9 Silks Run at Gulfstream Park in his 2019 opener, the five-year-old gelding pocketed his fourth overall stakes win.

Owned by Breezy Easy LLC, Imprimis was bet down as the 5-2 second choice in the 13-horse field. Paco Lopez was up for Joe Orseno and the winner denied 8-5 favorite Bound for Nowhere, who surged to a clear lead on the far turn of the 5 ½-furlong turf affair before coming up a little short in the end. Imprimis finished up in 1:02.33.

Angaston checked in a non-threatening third at 43-1, a head better than 27-1 Chaos Theory.

Imprimis won his four starts and seven-of-nine overall. An earner of $382,338, the dark bay was bred in Florida by Craig Wheeler and is out of the Put It Back mare Shoppers Return.