JESSAMINE STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 3 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | 1 1/16 MILES (TURF)
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Somali Lemonade wowed a drizzled Keeneland crowd of 8,608 with a sensational late run Thursday in winning the Grade 3, $150,000 Jessamine Stakes, giving trainer Michael Matz a 2-year-old filly for the Breeders' Cup to go along with his BC Juvenile favorite, Union Rags.
With Alex Solis riding over a rain-soaked turf course rated yielding, Somali Lemonade rallied from last to win the 1 1/16-mile race under a hand ride, making her a very impressive 2 for 2 after earning a fees-paid Win and You're In berth into the Nov. 4 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs with her 1 3/4-length victory Thursday.
Somali Lemonade returned $4.40 as the favorite in a field of 12. Sweet Cat, prominent throughout as the 4-1 third choice, finished second, a whopping nine lengths before Emerald Gold, the 2-1 second choice. The winning time was 1:45.39.
Somali Lemonade "is a very talented filly, that's for sure," said Matz. "She showed her class. I would think we'd like to try" the Breeders' Cup.
A homebred Lemon Drop Kid filly owned by Caroline Forgason, Somali Lemonade was coming off a flashy come-from-behind victory in her Sept. 11 career debut over the Belmont Park turf. The Jessamine was a virtual duplicate, as she relaxed early before hitting top gear down the middle of the course.
"She likes to take her time leaving the gate," said Solis, in from New York for the day. "She was so professional behind those horses. At the half-mile pole, I called on her a little bit, and she jumped right into the bit. Then she flew home."
Matz, renowned for his work with 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, watched last weekend as Union Rags remained unbeaten by easily winning the Champagne at Belmont to stamp himself as the likely BC Juvenile favorite.
In the previous race Thursday, layoff horses finished one-two in a $54,000, second-level allowance race when Zeematt ($7.20) crossed under the wire a length ahead of favored Dancinginherdreams. Zeematt, with John Velazquez riding for Todd Pletcher, finished the 6 1/2-furlong distance in a swift 1:14.64 when making her first start in eight months.