October 16, 2011
Miss Keller says goodbye in style
By Richard Mauntah, QMI Agency
Sarah Lynx’s win in the $1.5-million Canadian International was scintillating to watch, but a mare who has graced Woodbine’s turf the past two years stole the show Sunday.
Miss Keller said goodbye to Woodbine and gave trainer Roger Attfield one of the biggest wins of his career when she captured the $1-million E.P. Taylor Stakes.
And it was a patented Miss Keller run. Near the back early under John Velazquez, the five-year-old mare worked her way to a contending position at the top of the stretch and grinded away at the lead held in late stretch by I’m A Dreamer. She faced outside pressure late from favourite Dream Peace but won the 11/4-mile race by a head.
“She was far back, but before the half-mile pole, I was within range, within five or six lengths and I hoped I wasn’t moving too soon,” Velazquez said.
The Irish-bred had made six career starts at Woodbine, winning the Canadian Stakes last year. She had been off form this season.
“She’s been a little bit of a project this year,” Attfield said. “I am so proud of her. It’s a great thrill.”
Two races later, the thrills were supplied by Sarah Lynx, who became the first filly since Infamy in 1988 to win the International.
Breaking from post one with jockey Christophe Soumillon aboard, the four-year-old daughter of Montjeu broke very nicely and though she was around 12th of 16 early in the race, she was always relaxed and never more than six lengths off the lead in a tight pack.
When the field moved around the turn, she continued to relax but when they turned for home and a gap opened up at the rail, the relaxing period was over and Sarah Lynx went into overdrive, immediately grabbing the lead and quickly opening up three lengths. The final margin was four in a time of 2:34.90 for the 11/2 miles over a soft course. Defending champion Joshua Tree ran well to finish second while slight favourite Treasure Beach ended third.
“I was very happy with the ground and the rail draw,” Soumillon said. “She likes to be inside horses.”
“She had a good turn of foot. She was very relaxed in the race, not pulling at all.”
A winner of two of her previous 10 lifetime starts, Sarah Lynx scored a Group 2 win at Deauville, France two starts ago but had a bit of trouble in a Group 1 last time out. Having won the International, her next start could go in one of three directions, including the Breeders’ Cup where she now has the ‘Win and you’re in’ ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“I have no idea,” Kate Bradley, assistant to trainer John Hammond said. “I know she could go to (the Japan Cup). Hong Kong is an option. And now the Breeders’ Cup is an option.”
“John will speak to the owners and to Christophe and they’ll make a decision later in the week.”
For Soumillon, the race capped a very interesting weekend. He rode Cirrus des Aigles to win the $2-million Champion Stakes at Ascot but was later fined $80,000 for excessive use of the whip, a ruling he is appealing.
One horse who will be going to the Breeders’ Cup is Regally Ready, the winner of the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Regally Ready led the entire six-furlong journey to win in 1:11.35 at odds of 9-1. His next start will be the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.