Belmont Park and Churchill Downs featured turf stakes for females on Saturday.
Miss Yearwood capitalized upon a hot pace in the $223,678 Keertana at Churchill Downs, rallying to win by a length. The four-year-old filly notched her first stakes triumph, leaving the starting as the 1.99-1 favorite among 12 rivals in the 1 1/2-mile turf affair, and Chris Landeros rode the Roger Keith Long homebred.
Conditioned by Ian Wilkes, Miss Yearwood was exiting a convincing allowance win at Keeneland in late April. She placed in the Jockey Club Oaks (G3) at Aqueduct last September, the final start of her sophomore campaign, and the bay lass has now earned $438,780 from a 12-4-2-2 record.
“Chris suits this filly well and she has one style to come from and that’s from the back,” Wilkes said. “Most likely we’ll end up at Saratoga with her. How we get there I’m not sure yet. She’s shown a really sharp turn of foot in her last two efforts and we’re very proud of her.”
Miss Yearwood rated in 11th through the opening mile, nearly 15 lengths behind as Exit Soul sprinted forward at the break to show the way through opening splits in :23.40 and :48.38. Lovely Princess stalked about five lengths back in third and advanced to take a lead in upper stretch, but Miss Yearwood was fast-approaching on the scene after launching an eye-catching move on the final turn.
Lovely Princess dug in when challenged, but Miss Yearwood carried her momentum forward and gained the upper hand in deep stretch, edging away under the wire. The winner stopped the teletimer in 2:27.45.
“The pace up front looked pretty honest,” Landeros said. “This horse just likes to make one run so I wanted to make sure to keep her in the clear and be in a good spot when we turned for home. She came with a huge run and really exploded late down the lane.”
Lovely Princess held second by 2 1/2 lengths over the late-running Sparkle Blue in third. Talbeyah came next in fourth, and Under One Sky, Viburnum, Quality Star, Lady Arsinoe, I’m So Sorry, Exit Soul, Implosion, and Sinfiltre followed.
By Will Take Charge, Kentucky-bred Miss Yearwood counts Grade 2-placed Tuggle as a half-brother. They both hail from the Awesome Again mare Satisfaction, a half-sister to Grade 1 turf winner Dancing Forever.
Soaring Softly (G3)
Queen Picasso confirmed herself as a promising prospect in the three-year-old filly turf division, improving to 2-for-2 with a two-length win in the $169,750 Soaring Softly (G3) at Belmont. Christophe Clement trains the English-bred daughter of Kingman, and Jose Ortiz was up. Queen Picasso completed seven furlongs in 1:21.24 on the Widener course.
A half-length debut scorer going 1 1/16 miles on Gulfstream’s turf in early March, Queen Picasso tracked about a length back of pacesetter American Apple on the backstretch. She edged closer on the far turn and seized the lead approaching midstretch, drawing clear to win comfortably under the wire.
American Apple held second by a neck over 1.10-1 favorite Lady Beth. Quarrel and Senior Prank completed the five-horse field.
Queen Picasso was off as the 2.85-1 third choice, and she’s campaigned by Siena Farm, Michael E. Deutsch, and Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group. Out of the Irish stakes-placed Aris, a daughter of Danroad, Queen Picasso was purchased for $285.400 as a yearling at the 2021 Tattersalls October sale. She’s a half-sister to French Group 1 winner Acclaim.