Comes Again to Win Ladies Marathon
Odds-on favorite Al’s Gal pulled herself to the front, played it cool when Salama took a premature run at her around the turn, then accelerated in the stretch to regain the lead and win the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon on closing day.
She prevailed by 1 1/2 length over longshot Paige. Al’s Gal’s triumph capped a big couple of weeks for her connections – owner Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Mike Maker and jockey Florent Geroux – all of whom earned meet-leader titles in their respective categories over five days of all-grass racing in Franklin, Ky. It was the second consecutive year they won meet titles at Kentucky Downs.
Al’s Gal surpassed $500,000 in earnings and could be pointed toward the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
For Maker, it was his fifth stakes win of the meet -- there were 12 stakes races total -- and eighth win overall.
“She wasn’t the most attractive thing when we got her,” Maker said of Al’s Gal. “She’s still not, but more ground has really helped her.”
Al’s Gal was in contention from the start, sitting just off the early pace set by Paige through an opening half-mile in :48.19 before tugging Geroux to the front on the backstretch’s uphill run. With the heavy favorite in control of the pace, longshot Salama make a bold move aboard, with Corey Lanerie seemingly thinking it was a way anyone to wear down a strong-moving leader.
Al’s Gal and Geroux let that one run right past but clearly had plenty left, shifting to the outside of Salama as the pack bunched up into the stretch. When Geroux finally asked Al’s Gal, the 5-year-old mare accelerated with ease and pulled away in deep stretch, completing 1 5/16 mile over the undulating turf course in a hand-timed 2:12.16.
“She’s not only one style,” Geroux said. “She showed speed with me earlier this year at Churchill when she won the Keertana Stakes. I knew she could stay close and be comfortable like this. There was not much speed on paper, so I just tried to keep it simple as possible, keep her comfortable wherever she was, and go from there. I gave her a few pops to keep her busy as well.”
Longshot early pacesetter Paige stayed on for second, a half-length ahead of Oakley Girl in third. Trophee, Guilty Twelve, Place des Vosges, Promotional, Salama, Energia Fribby, and Candy Crush completed the order of finish.
A Pennsylvania-bred by English Channel out of the Chilean mare Dans La Ville (Winning), Al’s Gal was coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington International Racecourse. She’s the second Kentucky Downs stakes winner in five days to exit the Beverly D. after Lots o’ Lex rebounded from 13th in Arlington’s premier race for turf females to win Saturday’s $150,000 One Dreamer Stakes.
The winner paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.40 while improving her record to 25-7-8-3 and boosting her career earnings to $521,505.
Edited Kentucky Downs release with additional content by Dick Downey
Photo by Reed Palmer/Kentucky Downs