By Byron King
Arcadia, CA (October 26, 2019)-Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC tree-year-old filly Keeper Ofthe Stars, unbeaten in four starts at Golden Gate Fields this year, illustrated that her skills extend to Southern California by winning the $102,457 Autumn Miss Stakes (G3T) for 3-year-old grass fillies Oct. 26 at Santa Anita Park.
Showing a change in tactics from her customary frontrunning style, the Midnight Lute filly rated in sixth early in the one-mile Autumn Miss under Abel Cedillo, though a blistering pace led that to be sound placement. From five lengths off the early leader, she was able to take a breather while Giza Goddess and Raymundos Secret sprinted away from the pack with fractions of :22.27, :45.01, and 1:08.44 on a firm Santa Anita turf course that generated fast times.
Coming into the stretch, Giza Goddess turned back a host of challengers. But she could not repel the winner, who, after advancing up the inside into third, was angled out to secure room in midstretch and rallied past late.
The move to the outside proved a decisive turning point, but it was abrupt, causing her to make contact with fading Holly Hundy and leading a few fillies outside her to bump slightly. Holly Hundy wound up ninth.
“She’s still green,” explained Cedillo. “She’s learning (with) every race, but today when she was between horses, she got intimidated. That’s why she came out a little bit. I straightened her up right away, and she won pretty easy.”
The stewards posted an inquiry into the stretch incident. After examining replays for several minutes, they elected to make no change to the order of finish, much to the relief of trainer Jonathan Wong.
“I was very scared,” he admitted. “I saw her come out a little bit past the sixteenth pole. I didn’t think it was much, but everyone finished very close for the (minor awards), so I was afraid it might’ve affected them a little bit.”
Despite the taxing pace and being unraced since winning the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita Dec. 30, Giza Goddess had enough left to hold second, a half-length ahead of rallying Mucho Unusual in third.
“She ran her tail off today,” jockey Brice Blanc said of Giza Goddess. “She broke running and showed good natural speed. I know the fractions look fast, but we were going real easy.”
Hidden Message, the 8-5 favorite following a last-out second in the Aug. 17 Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T), closed to run a neck behind Mucho Unusual in fourth.
Keeper Ofthe Stars finished in 1:32.70 to pick up her first stakes victory. This summer, she ran close in a pair of stakes, finishing fourth in both the San Clemente Stakes (G2T) and Del Mar Oaks.
“She probably should have hit the board in both of those races if she had got a cleaner trip,” Wong said.
The race marked a meet-leading fifth stakes victory for Cedillo, including three graded stakes. He won the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) aboard Mongolian Groom and the John Henry Turf Championship (G2T) on Cleopatra’s Strike.
A $180,000 purchase by owner Tommy Town Thoroughbreds from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Keeper Ofthe Stars has won five of 10 starts and $184,800. She was bred in Kentucky by Olin Gentry, Omar Trevino, and Anthony Cappola and is out of the unraced Run Away and Hide mare Sociable.
Her weanling half-brother, a bay colt by Classic Empire, sells as hip 1661 in the November Breeding Stock sale at Keeneland from the consignment of Hunter Valley Farm.
Keeper Ofthe Stars paid $12.20 as the third choice in the 12-horse field, the largest stakes field since the autumn meet began Sept. 27.