July 17, 2024

Tony Ann upsets Caravel in Keeneland’s Franklin Stakes

Tony Ann edging Caravel in the Franklin (G2) at Keeneland (Photo by Keeneland Photos)
Tony Ann edging Caravel in the Franklin (G2) at Keeneland (Photo by Keeneland Photos)

A relentless rally from behind a fast pace allowed Tony Ann to upset a pair of Breeders’ Cup winners in Sunday’s $350,000 Franklin S. (G2) at Keeneland.

The 5 1/2-furlong grass dash for fillies and mares was supposed to be the perfect spot for defending Franklin winner Caravel to get back to her best. The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner had opened 2023 with three consecutive victories, most notably conquering males in the Jaipur (G1) and Shakertown (G2), but arrived at Keeneland off a surprising fourth-place finish in Saratoga’s Troy (G3) against males.

Bettors established Caravel as the 0.72-1 favorite and paid little heed to Tony Ann, who started as the 7-1 fifth choice off a close third-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint (G2) at Kentucky Downs. But disregarding Tony Ann proved to be a mistake, as the five-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince delivered a career-best performance in her toughest test to date.

A perfect ride from jockey Flavien Prat helped Tony Ann’s chances. While 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner Twilight Gleaming engaged with longshot B G Warrior in a speed duel through blazing fractions of :21.09 and :43.93 over a good turf course, Prat rated Tony Ann as many as five lengths off the pace.

Meanwhile, Caravel stayed closer to the hot pace, racing no more than three lengths back in third place. When the field turned for home, Caravel made her move but couldn’t outkick Tony Ann, who got in front of the favorite early in the homestretch and maintained that advantage as they rolled past the leaders to finish 1-2.

“It felt like the pace was strong enough, and I was traveling really well behind Caravel, so I was pleased with my trip,” said Prat. “When I tipped her out, [Tony Ann] responded really well. I was a bit worried by the sixteenth pole because Caravel came back on us, but she was really game. To go by Caravel you’ve got to go all out, but she was really game today.”

The margin of victory for Tony Ann was a neck, with Caravel holding off deep-closing Train to Artemus by three-quarters of a length for second place. Twilight Gleaming finished another half-length back in fourth, followed by Wakanaka, Bay Storm, Linguistic, and B G Warrior. The final time was 1:02.42.

Owned by the partnership of A Venneri Racing and Anthony Fanticola, Tony Ann is trained by Phil D’Amato. From 10 starts, she’s accumulated five wins, one second, and three thirds for earnings of $511,883.

As for Caravel, her second straight defeat won’t necessarily preclude a return to the Breeders’ Cup.

“Good run, just came up a touch short,” said Brad Cox, trainer of Caravel. “I am proud of the effort. She likes it here at Keeneland and ran another great race. Breeders’ Cup is definitely still something we are pointing towards. We’ll see how she comes out of this race and go from there.”