La Coronel wins Keeneland’s QE II in front-running fashion

La Coronel wins Keeneland’s QE II in front-running fashion
La Coronel wins Keeneland’s QE II in front-running fashion

La Coronel wins 2016 Jessamine

Photo: Keeneland Photo

La Coronel took advantage of a race with little pace, going out front early and hanging on to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in wire-to-wire fashion.

While without a victory in three starts entering the QE II, the daughter of Colonel John moved her record to 3-for-3 over Keeneland’s turf.

“She was very comfortable there,” jockey Jose Lezcano said of taking the early lead. “She jumped a little bit in the bit, but after that she kind of relaxed on the backside.”

Domestic turf stars bested their international counterparts with Daddys Lil Darling, running back from a stakes victory at Kentucky Downs, in 2nd by 3/4 of a length.

It was well back to Madam Dancealot for 3rd.

Lezcano credited a “giving” Keeneland turf for the victory. David Carroll, assistant trainer to Mark Casse, thanked the crew’s Churchill Downs base headed by Norman Casse — Mark’s son — for having La Coronel ready to fire.

“She came down to me early in the week,” Carroll said. “We schooled her. She settled in well. We’re just so happy for the Oxleys and for her to get a Grade 1 win and redeem herself, maybe.

“Some people might have doubted her, but she showed her true colors today.”

La Coronel registered her 5th win in 11 starts. Only one of those wins — her maiden score in 2016 at Saratoga — came outside of Kentucky.

Eleven fillies were invited to contest the QE II but only 10 ran after Friday’s announcement that Wuheida, a 4-1 choice on the morning line, had developed an issue with her right foreleg. The Group 1 winner could now point to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar, per owner Godolphin Racing.

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