ASHLAND STAKES | PURSE: $500,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | FILLIES | GRADE 1 | 1 1/16-MILES
Alex G. Campbell Jr.'s homebred Karlovy Vary took advantage of an easy pace under James Graham and went wire-to-wire in the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland April 7 at Keeneland. The 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, sent off at 15-1, won her first stakes by three-quarters of a length.
Pressured only mildly on the front end, the bay filly set fractions of :24.34, :48.97, and 1:13.78, then when challenged at the top of the stretch by Hard Not to Like, she kicked away again en route to the determined win.
Bred in Kentucky and out of the Pulpit mare The Right Pew, Karlovy Vary won for the second time in as many starts this season. She entered off an optional claiming score at Gulfstream Park Feb. 26. Rusty Arnold is her trainer.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack was 1:44.82.
Campbell and Arnold came within a neck of winning the Ashland in 2010 when their It's Tea Time fell just short of catching Evening Jewel.
"She'll run in the [Kentucky] Oaks if everything goes good," Arnold said. "We still think she can run on
the dirt. She had her one start on the dirt and had some things go wrong. We fixed those and think we're
Hard Not to Like settled for second under Robby Albarado, 1 1/2 lengths in front of favored Stephanie's Kitten in the field of seven.
As a juvenile, Karlovy Vary won once in four starts, her victory also coming at Keeneland. She was seventh in both stakes tries, the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs and the Ginger Brew Stakes on the Gulfstream turf course.
The Ashland win upped her earnings to $362,294.
Karlovy Vary paid $32.80, $11.60, and $5.60. The exacta (4-2) returned $268.20 and the trifecta (4-2-7) was worth $857.60.
Heart of Destiny finished fourth, followed by Dixie Strike, Goldrush Girl, and Lotta Lovin, who pressed the pace in the early going until fading the in the stretch.
"If nobody else wanted [the lead], we were going to be there anyway," Graham said. "So we just took her on and let her do her thing."