‘She has a really good talent.’ A record falls in Keeneland’s QE II Challenge Cup

·2 min read

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

That well-worn advice for military strategists and business people works for jockeys as well, it seems.

After Flavien Prat rode Shantisara to an impressive 5-length victory in Saturday’s $500,000, Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, the winning jockey explained how he was able to get the edge on his opponents.

“It was a good run. I was really pleased with the draw (post 3), to be honest,” he said. “I thought the good horses were around me, and I was able to keep tracking them. She made a really good move around the turn — she came really handy around the turn — and when I asked her to make a move she responded well. She broke well and I was able to tuck her in right away and she switched off nice. I was traveling super and, like I said, when it was time to go, she was there for me.”

The victory was the record fourth in the Challenge Cup for trainer Chad Brown, who previously won it with Dayatthespa (2012), Rushing Fall (2018) and Cambier Parc (2019).

Shantisara returned $7, $3.80 and $3. Technical Analysis, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $4.20 and $3.80 and finished 1¾ lengths in front of Burning Ambition, who paid $6.20 to show under Florent Geroux.

Race favorite Empress Josephine finished last in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Lady Speightspeare was scratched.

“It was going well until I (asked her for more) and she didn’t go anywhere,” jockey John Velazquez said of Empress Josephine. “She didn’t have it. She didn’t show up today.”

That wasn’t a problem for Shantisara, who rocketed past stablemate Technical Analysis at the three-sixteenths pole and drew off to win by a race record 5 lengths.

Saturday’s $300,000 winner’s share increased her earnings to $788,108 with a record of 9-5-2-0.

Since joining Brown’s barn in the spring from Europe, Shantisara has won three of four starts with stakes victories coming in the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park and the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park.

“I expected her to run really well because (of) the way she breezed last time (5 furlongs in 1:03.40 over the turf at Keeneland a week earlier). She improves all the time,” said Baldo Hernandez, assistant to winning trainer Brown. “She’s coming along. This filly, she has a really good talent. She handled the turf really well here.”

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