John C. Oxley’s La Coronel pulled away to a 3 1/4-length victory on Thursday in the $125,000 Appalachian Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
Jockey Florent Geroux settled La Coronel into a stalking spot on the rail just behind the pacesetting Like a Hurricane through splits of :23.89, :49.13 and 1:13.82. The dark bay lass was under a snug hold down the backstretch while in close quarters with Morticia to her outside.
Heading into the turn Geroux had to take up on La Coronel to keep her from running up on Like a Hurricane’s heels. The duo waited patiently for an opening and struck when space finally opened, splitting rivals to grab control and drawing off in a final time of 1:37.12 for a mile over the firm turf course.
La Coronel paid $9.40 as the 7-2 second choice in the 11-strong field. Morticia just held second by a head from Proctor’s Ledge, who was followed by Dreaming Dancing another half-length back in fourth. Bellavais missed the top four by a head while 2-1 favorite New Money Honey filled the sixth spot three-quarters of a length behind.
Lull, Journey Home, Purely a Dream, Coasted and Like a Hurricane completed the order of finish.
La Coronel returned to the site of her only other stakes triumph, having captured the Jessamine Stakes (G3) last year over Keeneland’s turf. The Mark Casse-trained daughter of Colonel John was a four-length maiden winner prior to that and closed out her two-year-old campaign with a sixth-placing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
La Coronel has made just one other start this year, recording a neck second in the Florida Oaks (G3) to kick off her three-year-old season on March 11, and improved her career record to 7-3-1-0, $259,615, with this victory.
Purchased for $375,000 as an OBS April two-year-old, the filly was bred in Kentucky by Kim and Rodney Nardelli, Susan Bunning, and A. & B. Jaffreys. She is out of the Canadian Grade 3-placed Chester House mare Listen, who is a half-sister to Grade 2 scorer Listen Here.
La Coronel’s third dam is the Secretariat mare Listen Well, who produced multiple Grade 1 queen Listening. This is the same female family as champion sprinter Lost in the Fog.
Florent Geroux, jockey La Coronel, winner
“She broke very sharply today. She put me in a great spot right away. I just tried to nurse her around there. When (I asked her), she surged like a lion. She just jumped in there and ate them up.”
Mark Casse, trainer La Coronel, winner
“She’s an amazing horse. I’ve gotta thank the Oxleys (owner John C. Oxley and his wife, Debby) for so many great things. I have to thank our farm team. This filly had double knee surgery after the (sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf [G1] in November), and for her to come back and do what she just did…it took a lot of people and a lot of hard work. We’re really proud of her.”
On Oxley earning a Keeneland Tray for La Coronel’s victory in recognition of his eighth graded stakes win at Keeneland
“If anybody deserves it, he deserves it. There was a lot of pressure (laughs). I was a little nervous about that. I’m glad he got it.”
Jose Lezcano, jockey Morticia, second
“She’s very fast. I’m very proud of her and how she relaxed today. When I asked, she (exceled). The filly that won is a very nice filly, but my filly kept trying the whole way around.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey Proctor’s Ledge, third
“On the first turn, I was midpack. The trip was pretty eventful. It was never really smooth. We were kind of bundled up like sardines, bouncing off each other. I never really found room. I had to kind of start up on her at the three-sixteenths and just started drifting out. Once I got room, I thought I’d still win but the wire came too fast. She’s such a classy filly.”
Chad Brown, trainer New Money Honey, sixth
“I am disappointed. She had been training so well. We’ll bring her back to Belmont Park and race her there on a course we know she likes. I can’t use the layoff as an excuse because she had been training so well and our team is so good at getting them ready. I thought the winner ran a terrific race. (Jockey Javier Castellano) just didn’t have any horse turning for home.”
Javier Castellano, jockey New Money Honey, sixth
“I had a good trip but it looked on paper like there would be a little more speed. It was not a good setup for me today with the slow pace. When I asked her to run, she just didn’t respond.”