Stepping up from an April 14 allowance score at Keeneland Race Course to test top-level company in her second North American start for trainer Chad Brown, the 4-year-old First Defence filly picked up her first Grade 1 victory.
"I don't think that I've ever had a horse in my training career come home that fast on turf, at any distance, at any level," Brown said.
Antonoe was last in the field of seven older fillies and mares through the early going, but jockey Javier Castellano moved his filly down to the inside off the turn for home and she rallied swiftly up the inside to win by three-quarters of a length over pacesetter Sassy Little Lila. Grade 1 winner Dickinson was a nose back in third.
"I had to ride her European-style; a lot of patience (and) save all the ground the best I could," Castellano said. "She cut the corner turning for home. It worked in the finish. You don't see too many horses that (can win) the way she did today. She's really strong. I'm really happy with how she did today. The way she showed me today, the longer, I think, the better."
Kentucky-bred Antonoe broke her maiden in France and won a Group 3 stakes at Chantilly in her first two starts as a juvenile, but then went winless in four starts before shipping to the United States.–Claire Novak