Courtesy of BloodHorse.com Arcadia, CA (February 22, 2020) – After providing Jonathan Wong with his first graded stakes victory in the Oct. 26 Autumn Miss Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park, Keeper Ofthe Stars is adding even more prestigious awards to her up-and-coming trainer’s record.
The 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute delivered again Feb. 22 at Santa Anita for Wong and owner Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, running down heavily favored Jolie Olimpica by a half-length in the $202,000 Buena Vista Stakes (G2T). Dismissed at odds of 36-1, she returned $74.20 to her backers for a $2 wager.
After going to the early lead and fading to sixth in the Jan. 20 Megahertz Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita, Keeper Ofthe Stars employed off-the-pace tactics in the one-mile Buena Vista, made possible in part by Jolie Olimpica being keen on the stretch-out from a win in the 5 1/2-furlong Las Cienegas Stakes (G3T). So when Jolie Olimpica broke running and was allowed to run freely by Mike Smith, setting fractions of :23.23, :46.49, and 1:10.24, jockey Abel Cedillo was able to coax Keeper Ofthe Stars back into fourth, where she remained until the second turn.
At that point, Cedillo chose to wait no longer. He made a long, sustained run with his mount, who closed the gap three wide on the second turn, from six lengths behind after a half-mile to 2 1/2 lengths back with a quarter-mile to race, and she gradually wore down the leader. The final time was 1:34.15 on a firm course.
“I thought if we could get her to relax off the pace today, she could make one run,” said Cedillo, who has ridden her in her past five starts. “I got her back going into the first turn, and she relaxed really good. The distance was perfect, and she finished really strong.”
Initially under hand urging from Smith, Jolie Olimpica at first turned back Keeper Ofthe Stars in the early stretch but could not repel her in the final sixteenth, even after Smith went to a left-handed whip.
“Going from a sprint to a route today, she just didn’t relax,” said Smith, who rode her in her Jan. 11 U.S. debut. “She was pulling, and when she does that, she’s not breathing the way she needs to.”
Mucho Unusual rallied to be third, a half-length behind the runner-up and 1 1/2 lengths in front of fourth-place Lady Prancealot, who came under early urging from Joe Bravo and lacked her usual turn of foot.
Tina Tina crossed the wire in fifth but was disqualified by track stewards and placed eighth for causing stretch interference, resulting in Brill being elevated into the fifth position.
Wong, who began training in 2014, has become a training force at Golden Gate Fields and now has a smaller stable at Santa Anita. He began conditioning Keeper Ofthe Stars last summer.
“We’ve been really high on this filly. When Tom and Debi (Stull) from Tommy Town Thoroughbreds gave her to me, she was like the best horse we ever had,” said Wong, who now has three graded stakes wins—the two from Keeper Ofthe Stars and another from Mugaritz in the Nov. 30 Berkeley Handicap (G3) at Golden Gate.
A $180,000 purchase by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Keeper Ofthe Stars has won six of 14 starts and $321,931. Bred in Kentucky by Olin Gentry, Omar Trevino, and Anthony Cappola, she is out of the unraced Run Away and Hide mare Sociable.