Dancing Rags seized the advantage from early leader Caroline Test in early stretch, then powered home to a one-length win in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes on Oct. 7 at Keeneland Race Course.
Entered off a maiden win in her second start Sept. 17 at Laurel Park, Dancing Rags proved up to making the jump to Grade 1 stakes. Dancing Rags is campaigned by Phyllis Wyeth’s Chadds Ford Stable, which also campaigned the filly’s classic-winning sire, Union Rags.
Trained by Graham Motion, the bay filly completed the 1 1/16-mile test under Angel Cruz in 1:44.69 as the Maryland-based rider earned his first graded stakes win. Motion noted that Cruz had to drive from Maryland to make Friday’s race before a Keeneland fall meet opening day-record crowd of 19,882.
The winner was followed home by Daddys Lil Darling, Fun, and Caroline Test.
Caroline Test broke well from post six under Jose Ortiz, and led through a quarter-mile in :23.72 and a half-mile in :47.43 while Dancing Rags tracked from third behind Cold Hearted Pearl. Dancing Rags improved position through the turn and challenged for the lead just after six furlongs in 1:11.82.
Dancing Rags briefly appeared to lose focus for a stride or two as she challenged for the lead, but Cruz brought her attention back and she claimed the lead and was not seriously challenged in the short stretch to claim a clear victory.
Pocahontas Stakes winner Daddys Lil Darling, who raced 12th through a half-mile, rallied well to finish second, two lengths in front of Fun, who entered off a fourth in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes.
After finishing third in her Aug. 5 debut sprinting on the Laurel turf, Motion stretched Dancing Rags out to the one-turn mile on the main track, where she stalked in second early before scoring a clear win in that Sept. 17 maiden special weight test.
“I felt it was an open race. She just seemed to have done really well since her maiden win at Laurel and progressively kept improving,” Motioin said. “This is the time of year when you’ve got to take a shot.”
Dancing Rags returned $26.60, $10.60, and $7.40 across the board while Daddys Lil Darling paid $6.20 and $4.60 to place and show. Fun returned $6.40 to show.
“I had a great trip. I was in a good position, and the horse did her job,” Cruz said. “I cruised home to victory. I had plenty of horse the whole time. She gave me it all. Graham Motion had her ready, and thank you to the owner for this grand opportunity. My first Grade 1 [and first mount at Keeneland.]”
The Alcibiades is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, granting Dancing Rags a berth to the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Motion said he would consider making the trip to Santa Anita Park.
Also, the top four finishers earned points toward qualifying for next year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks field.
Dancing Rags is the second Grade 1-winning filly from the first crop of freshman sire Union Rags, joining Del Mar Debutante Stakes winner Union Strike.—Frank Angst
$250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes: Nothing could stop Green Lantern Stables’ homebred A. P. Indian as he blazed toward the Keeneland finish line on Friday in the Phoenix Stakes.
The 6-year-old Indian Charlie gelding got shuffled back on the final turn and then hooked up with a tough rival in Limousine Liberal after digging deep with a midstretch rally, but even that fellow speedster could not stand in the way of A. P. Indian’s fourth straight graded stakes victory, earned by a determined head.
The final time of 1:08.43 in the three-quarter-mile test broke the track record of 1:08.58 established by 2015 champion sprinter Runhappy in last year’s TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Thanks to his Phoenix win, A. P. Indian is headed to this year’s Sprint at Santa Anita Park with an expenses-paid berth as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” program.
“He’s just been a champion all along, ever since the first time I’ve seen him,” winning jockey Joe Bravo said. “He broke away from the gate so sharply. It’s hard to keep going all the way, but that’s what makes this horse so special. He breathes, he relaxes.”—Claire Novak