Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Nancy Vanier and Lyda Williamson’s Kepi overtook favored La Tia in the stretch and drew clear to win the $83,700 Lincoln Heritage Handicap Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse. James Graham rode the Brian Williamson-trained daughter of Strategic Mission to a 1 ¼-length victory over Alette in 1:42.95 for the mile and a sixteenth over Polytrack.
Originally carded for the turf, the Lincoln Heritage Handicap was moved to the main track following a thunderstorm that necessitated a delay of nearly an hour.
“It was a great trip,” Graham said. “I was stalking La Tia. She ran great. She picked it up and sprinted home - just like her grass races the other day. She worked well over the Polytrack and she ran well over it today.”
La Tia, the defending champion in the race for Illinois-registered fillies and mares, set the pace through fractions of 24.68 seconds for the opening quarter, a half-mile in 48.83 seconds and a three-quarter mile split of 1:12.79 before giving way approaching mid-stretch.
“With the rain, the reins were really slick and I had a hard time getting hold of her like I wanted,” said La Tia’s rider E. T. Baird. “That didn't help me a lot. She was running good, but last time when I picked her up she re-broke. Today she was just even.”
Alette rallied from fifth after a half-mile to get up for second under jockey Sheldon Russell who said, “I wasn’t really familiar with her, as I had not ridden her in a race, but (trainer) Chris (Block) was really confident with her. In the paddock he said to just get her comfortable because she was training really well. He had her in tip-top form and she gave me a great trip around there - she just got outkicked by the winner. (Alette) ran huge, I thought. She was quiet and handled the delay great. She has a lot of class.”
Kepi earned $49,718 for the victory, her eighth win in 14 starts overall but her first over Polytrack, to boost her bankroll to $275,301.
Sent off at odds of more than 5-1, Kepi paid $12.80, $5.40 and $2.40. Alette returned $7 and $2.60. La Tia paid $2.10.
Bold Kitten, Goldway and Thecushmaker completed the order of finish.