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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Keertana: A Mare Against the Boys

Rags to Riches beats Curlin in the Test of Champions. Zarkava wins the Arc. Rachel Alexandra wins the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward. Vodka wins the Japan Cup. Zenyatta comes within inches of two consecutive Breeders' Cup Classics. Goldikova takes home three straight BC Miles. The list of fantastic females beating the boys goes on, and now Saturday at Churchill Downs, Keertana will attempt to turn the trick in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap. OK, so maybe this would not be as epic as the feats of the aforementioned greats, but still a win by the Tom Proctor trained mare would make history by becoming the first female ever to win the 1 ½ mile test in the 74th edition of the turf race.
Proctor is confident in Keertana's ability to compete against the boys, and is using the great mare in France as inspiration.
There’s a pretty good mare that’s won the last few Breeders’ Cup Mile races (Goldikova),” Proctor said. “If a mare is good enough then she can beat the boys. I could have shipped her and not run against the males, but I wanted to run her where I’m based; here at Churchill Downs.”
She may not be quite the class of Goldikova, but Keertana, a 5-year-old daughter of Johar has proven to be of high quality. Listed #3 on my latest rankings of American female turf horses, Keertana was last seen on the Churchill Downs' turf course in November. That day she made a strong rally to fall just a half-length short in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Since then she has backed up that form by winning 3 of 4 races this year, including a score in last month's Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland in her last start.
Lining up to challenge the mare in the Louisville Handicap will be a cast of nine male rivals, including the nine-year-old German import, Musketier. Trained by Roger Attfield, he will be ridden by recent Preakness winning jockey Jesus Castanon, and is also coming off a score at Keeneland, as he won his second straight running of the Elkhorn Handicap at the 12 furlong distance. Musketier is the 122 pound highweight and is listed as the 9-5 morning line favorite, compared to his female rival who gets in at 117 and is listed at 2-1, under rider Jose Lezcano. Another major contender for the top prize Saturday should be Guys Reward, a four-year-old colt from the Dale Romans barn. The Louisville will be the son of Grand Reward's first try at the distance, but he has a good record over the Churchill Downs' turf course and is coming off an impressive allowance win on the Kentucky Oaks Day card.

Proctor knows beating the boys will not be easy. It’s definitely a tough race,” Proctor said. “But she’s fit and she’s ready to ready to go.” He should know about pulling off a big win at Churchill, as the trainer of One Dreamer who shocked the world with a win in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Distaff. The trainer of many good turf horses over the years, Proctor may be primed to have one of his best ever years, with the likes of Banned, Snow Top Mountain, and of course, Keertana. And make no mistake, Keertana is a good one.

In 21 races on the grass, Keertana has never run a dull race. She fires every time, can handle any distance and any condition of turf course. She's all class, and in the Louisville, I expect nothing less than a trip to the winner's circle. Good luck boys, you're going to need it!



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Older Comments about Keertana: A Mare Against the Boys...

She defeated Sheepshead Bay entrant La Lune de Miel in the Bewitch. I hope she wins, I love seeing the girls beat the boys in the bigger races!
I love seeing the girl beat the boys. Waya did it a few times back in her day. Go Keertana!


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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.