LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lady Aurelia’s path toward a third Royal Ascot excursion hit a bump Saturday when Triple Chelsea, who had run fourth behind the world-traveling superstar in last year’s $100,000 Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland, upset that rival in Saturday’s 2018 renewal by 1 1/2 lengths under Adam Beschizza.
Claimed for $62,500 by owner Brad Grady and trainer Joe Sharp at Kentucky Downs last September, her third start after the Giant’s Causeway, Triple Chelsea had won or placed in all five outings for her new connections, including wintertime scores in the $50,000 Pan Zareta and $50,000 Nelson J. Mennard Memorial, both at Fair Grounds. She was sent off at 8-1 Saturday while Lady Aurelia, making her first start since running 10th as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), was backed down to 7-10.
The eventual top two finishers rated slightly off the pace, with Lady Aurelia in closer attendance in third and Triple Chelsea fifth down the backside. In mid-stretch, Lady Aurelia poked her head in front of second choice Morticia, but Triple Chelsea finished full of run and drew away to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:02.40 for 5 1/2 furlongs over firm turf. She paid $18.60. Lady Aurelia was a length ahead of Morticia for second.
“She’s blossomed since we got her, and Adam’s learned her timing,” Sharp said. “I wasn’t excited to see Lady Aurelia in the entries, but it worked out.”
Trainer Wesley Ward said Lady Aurelia would go on and defend her title in the King’s Stand (G1) over five furlongs at Royal Ascot in June. She also captured the 2016 Queen Mary (G2) at the Royal meeting.
“She ran a good race, and anytime you’re coming off a layoff, you’re always a little vulnerable,” Ward said. “Last year in this race she was a little more relaxed. Johnny (Velazquez) said that the rider on the longshot (Rogelio Miranda on Brave Daisey) was chirping to his horse and hustling his filly along and that kind of kept Lady Aurelia from being as relaxed as she was last year. I take nothing away from the winner. She beat us on the square. (Lady Aurelia) hadn’t had a race and now she has so she should be ready.”
Rated R Superstar rallied from more than 10 lengths down and caught long-time leader and 19-10 favorite Chip Leader in the final furlong to win the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3) under Javier Castellano.
Owned by Paul Parker’s Radar Racing and trained by Kenny McPeek, the five-year-old gelded son of Kodiak Kowboy covered nine furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.31. Chip Leader, who set a comfortable pace of :24.22, :48.19, and 1:12.77, was 5 1/2 lengths clear of Guest Suite at the wire.
“I had a lot of confidence,” Castellano said “I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race — the only speed was the favorite.
“I’m very impressed the way he did it today. It was a slow pace and he still finished really good. I liked the way he moved turning for home, and he won very easy.”
A son of champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy, Rated R Superstar previously captured the 2016 Carry Back (G3) at Gulfstream Park. At two, he placed in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Iroquois (G3).