By Amy Owens —-
La Coronel Holds Off Daddys Lil Darling to Win
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End
LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 14, 2017) – John C. Oxley’s La Coronel went to the front soon after the break and then held off a late bid from Daddys Lil Darling by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) for 3-year-old fillies before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 29,636. The figure marked the second-largest Fall Meet attendance in Keeneland history.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Jose Lezcano, La Coronel covered the 1 1/8 miles on a firm turf course in 1:48.99. It was the first victory in the race for Oxley, Casse and Lezcano and the third stakes victory of the meet for Casse and second with Oxley as they teamed to win last Sunday’s Dixiana Bourbon (G3) with Flameaway.
Lezcano put La Coronel on the lead and quickly assumed a daylight margin with Daddys Lil Darling in closest pursuit. The running order remained unchanged on the front end as La Coronel put up fractions of :23.81, :48.60 and 1:13.47.
At the top of the stretch, La Coronel opened up on the field and had more than enough left to stave off the final surge from Daddys Lil Darling who finished second for the fourth time in a Grade 1 race.
The victory was worth $300,000 and increased La Coronel’s earnings to $754,844 with a record of 12-5-2-0. It was the fourth graded stakes victory for La Coronel and the third in three tries over the Keeneland lawn with previous victories coming in last fall’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) and this spring’s Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association.
La Coronel is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Colonel John out of the Chester House mare Listen. She is an alumnus of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale.
La Coronel returned $12.20, $7 and $4.80. Daddys Lil Darling, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $10.40 and $6.80 with Madam Dancealot (IRE) finishing another 3½ lengths back in third under Jamie Theriot and returning $8.60 to show.
Uni (GB) was another 1½ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Beau Recall (IRE), favored New Money Honey, Dream Dancing, Proctor’s Ledge, Con Te Partiro and Unforgetable Filly (GB).
Quotes from the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup
Presented by Lane’s End (G1)
David Carroll (assistant to Mark Casse, winning trainer of La Coronel)
“It was a fantastic race. Jose (Lezcano) rode her beautifully. All the credit goes to (Casse’s son and assistant Norman). She came down to me (from Casse at Churchill Downs) during the week. We schooled her (in the Keeneland Paddock). She settled in well.
“We’re just so happy for the Oxleys (winning owner John C. Oxley and his wife, Debby, whose Heavenly Love won the Darley Alcibiades-G1 for Casse on Oct. 6) and for (La Coronel) to get a Grade 1 win and redeem herself. Some people might have doubted her, but she showed her true colors today. We couldn’t be any happier.”
Jose Lezcano (winning rider)
“I wanted to go to the lead. She was very comfortable there. Last time I rode her (in the Sands Point-G2 on Sept. 16 at Belmont Park), she jumped a little bit early into the bit, but after that she relaxed on the backside. Today she broke and was very comfortable (in the lead) so I let her be. She was comfortable the whole way around.”
Robby Albarado (rider of runner-up Daddys Lil Darling)
“The fractions were moderately slow for these kind of horses. The only speed horse got out front and was just cantering on the lead and I was tucked inside. In hindsight, maybe we should have been closer to put some pressure on the horse in front. My horse was close and she tried the whole way. She tried hard.”
Kenny McPeek (trainer of Daddys Lil Darling)
“Robby positioned her perfectly. It wasn’t like he was way back on a slow pace; he was up close. He rode her well and she just couldn’t get past the winner. I am pleased with the way she ran.”
Jamie Theriot (rider of third-place finisher Madam Dancealot [IRE])
“The race was fine. I had a great trip. I was in stalking position, and when I called on her at the quarter pole, she was full of run for me. But there really wasn’t too much pace for me and pace makes the race. (For) the two that were up close (La Coronel and Daddys Lil Darling) that was how (the race finished). I was really the only one running at the end.”
Javier Castellano (rider of sixth-place finisher and beaten favorite New Money Honey)
“(She was) moving beautiful, but when I asked her today I don’t know what happened. Maybe she didn’t like the course here. I don’t know. I can’t find any excuse. Perfect trip, and I didn’t have it.”
Josephine Gordon (who was making her U.S. riding debut in the race and was 10th aboard Unforgetable Filly [GB])
“I really enjoyed my trip (to Keeneland), really enjoyed the experience. I’d really like to come back again as well. Unfortunately, the ground, even though they’re (calling) it firm, it’s not firm for what she’d be used to back in the UK. It was far too soft for her. She traveled nicely, just turning into the home bend I knew I had nothing left to give, so she didn’t pick up. We’ll just put a line through that one.
“She doesn’t (usually go to the post with a lead pony). That was the first time she’s done it and I’ve done it. But she’s been doing it the last week when she’s been over here, and she actually seemed to love the pony she was with. It’s been a new experience for her as well as myself, and I’m just grateful that the owners have supported me and let me keep the ride on her.”
Racing continues Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 1:05 p.m. ET.
On Sunday, Keeneland will offer a Pick Six carryover of $53,070 and a Super High Five carryover of $7,660.
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. As the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction company, Keeneland conducts sales every January, September and November. Its sales graduates dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. In 2015, Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a private, for-profit corporation that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses, and it has donated millions of dollars in charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. To learn more about Keeneland, visit Keeneland.com.