FIRST LADY STAKES | PURSE: $350,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 1 MILE (TURF)
Frank L. Jones Jr.'s homebred Tapitsfly got up to take the Grade 1, $350,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday and in the process gained a measure of revenge over rival Daisy Devine, who held her to third when capturing the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley during Keeneland's spring meet. Daisy Devine had a clear lead in the stretch of the First Lady, but Tapitsfly lived up to her name when swooping in late to finish a mile on the firm turf in 1:35 2/5.
"She has been a special filly," trainer Dale Romans said. "She's probably going to retire at the end of this year. She's going to have one or two more starts left so we've got to pick some place that's going to count.
"The Breeders' Cup is tough because for the fillies, she has to run so far [1 1/4 miles in the Filly & Mare Turf] unless we decide to put her in against the colts [in the Mile]. But we've done sillier things."
Summer Soiree set the opening splits of :24 and :47 1/5 while tracked by Daisy Devine to her outside, but couldn't hold off the bay filly as she moved up to take command passing through three-quarters in 1:11 2/5. Meanwhile, jockey Jose Lezcano was biding his time aboard Tapitsfly in fourth and sent her six wide entering the stretch. The duo had their sights set on Daisy Devine and surged past to record the half-length victory as the 5-2 second choice.
"She gave me a good race. She settled in good," Lezcano remarked. "When I asked her, she kicked in really good."
Tapitsfly returned $7.60, $4.20 and $2.60 while Daisy Devine was easily best of the rest.
"She ran hard," noted Andrew McKeever, trainer of Daisy Devine. "The five horse [Summer Soiree] was herding her all over the place, which didn't help her cause. Still she was probably still second best. With a [prep] race in her, she might have won today."
"She's as honest as they come," jockey James Graham agreed about Daisy Devine. "She ran good but circumstances were against us. You can't help what happens in front of you."
Hungry Island, the 7-5 favorite, filled out the show spot, six lengths clear of a fading Summer Soiree. Brilliant Future and Snow Fall completed the order under the wire.
"We had a great race," said Julien Leparoux, pilot aboard Hungry Island. "It set up perfect for us, you know, and they went a good pace for us in front. It was relaxed, the filly raced nice, we were just outkicked at the end."
Tapitsfly earned her first Grade 1 coup when taking the Just a Game at Belmont Park on June 9. That score made her a millionaire, and she increased her earnings to $1,495,503 with Saturday's win. Her 24-7-6-4 career mark also includes victories in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and P.G. Johnson Stakes in 2009, and the Grade 2 Honey Fox from earlier this season.
The gray five-year-old daughter of Tapit has placed in seven black-type events during her time on track. After missing her entire sophomore season due to injury, she would go on to place in the Ballston Spa and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, both Grade 2s, as well as the Mint Julep and Marshua's River, both Grade 3 contests.
The Kentucky-bred mare was produced by the winning Marlin mare Flying Marlin. Her family includes Grade 1-placed multiple stakes star Malli Star, the dam of Japanese classic-placed Bella Rheia; Grade 3-placed stakes victor Moonshine Hall; and $2.4 million-earner Golden Pheasant, hero of such major events as the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Japan Cup.
Tapitsfly's fifth dam is Pink Pigeon, a noted racemare of the late 1960s.