LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Trainer Chad Brown was punching Breeders' Cup tickets from New York to Kentucky on Saturday, following up major stakes wins at Belmont from Lady Eli in the Flower Bowl and Practical Joke in the Champagne with a victory from Irish Jasper in the Grade 2, $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.
The Thoroughbred Club of America, like the Flower Bowl and Champagne, served as a Win and You're In prep for the Breeders' Cup, providing Irish Jasper with an entry-paid berth in the Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 5.
The race began inauspiciously for Irish Jasper, who broke slowly, in much the same fashion that Practical Joke did in his victorious performance in the Champagne. But thereafter her trip could not have been much smoother. She settled in fifth, as favorite Stonetastic sped to the lead with a fast opening quarter in 21.84 seconds.
Irish Jasper was able to get through along the fence, a position from which there were numerous winners on the Saturday card at Keeneland, and came inside Stonetastic in the final sixteenth to notch a 1-3/4-length victory.
Bendable was a neck behind the runner-up, with I'm a Looker three-quarters of a length back in fourth.
The victory provided Irish Jasper her first stakes victory since she rattled off three stakes victories as a 3-year-old in summer 2015, capped by victories in the Grade 3 Ms. Preakness and Grade 3 Victory Ride. A daughter of First Defence, she raced six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.64, paying $8 as the second choice in the field of eight.
"It was a little scary at the beginning," winning jockey Julien Leparoux said of the start. "I thought she was going to break a little bit better. She moved right when they opened the gate. But after that she traveled very good. We got through along on the rail and she made a big run at the end."
The Thoroughbred Club of America proved significant for co-owner William Farish beyond the race itself, as in victory he notched his 24th graded stakes victory at Keeneland, becoming one of just two owners to do so, and received a commemorative bowl from the track.
Farish and David Mackie purchased Irish Jasper from her prior owner and trainer, Derek Ryan, after she won the Victory Ride in July of last year.