Keller took off in the stretch in Wednesday’s $70,000 De La Rose to give trainer
Roger Attfield his second stakes victory of the meet and jockey Javier
Castellano his fourth winner of the day.
As Be Fair led the field through
opening fractions of 23.88 and 47.22, Castellano kept Miss Keller well-held at
the back of the pack in seventh. Carried four-wide exiting the far turn, she
responded explosively when asked in the stretch to hold off the late-closing
Keertana and win by a length.
Her final time for the mile was
1:34.88 over Saratoga’s “good” Inner Turf course.
“I was really concerned about
having the outside post today on this softer turf,” said Castellano. “She broke
a little slow, so I had the chance to stalk behind the speed, and I was
fortunate that there were a couple of speed horses in the race. She was so
relaxed and going lovely, just galloping along. I think having her relaxed in
the first turn was the key to winning the race. And, although I had to go a
little wide, she was there when I asked her.”
Miss Keller, who paid $7.40 as
the 5-2 second-choice, was Castellano’s fourth and final winner of the day. He
also scored victories aboard Bug Juice ($5.80) in race 4, Daily Star ($5.30) in
race 5, and Convocation ($2.60) in race 7. Now tied for first place in the
standings with John Velazquez at 16, Castellano rode five winners here on
Sunday, July 25.
The filly also kept Attfield’s
hot streak alive following the trainer’s win in last Wednesday’s Grade 2 Lake
George with Perfect Shirl. Attfield also trains the third-place finisher in that
field, No Explaining, giving him a perfect in-the-money percentage from three
starts at the meet.
Miss Keller, an Irish-bred
daughter of Montjeu, is campaigned by Three Chimneys, presenting sponsor of the
Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful for juveniles, to be run on Closing Day,
“That was an impressive turn of
foot,” said Robert Clay, owner of Three Chimneys. “She has been close, but this
is perhaps her best race. We were trying to find a mile race. Obviously, Roger
[Attfield] has been having good luck here.”
It was the second win of the year
for Miss Keller, who came into the De La Rose off of a near-miss in the Grade 2
Nassau Stakes on the grass at Woodbine. Her lifetime record now stands at 4-2-1
from 14 starts and she has earned $240,458.
“She loves the mile,” said Joe
Miller, assistant racing manager for Three Chimneys. “We may think about running
her here later in the meet. [The Grade 2 Ballston Spa] is certainly a
Dreamt was third, Haka was fourth
and Be Fair, My Baby Baby, Daveron, Coulee and Miss Catalyst completed the order