In an effort to keep her from facing older girls too soon, trainer Jonathan Sheppard earmarked Keeneland's Grade III Pin Oak Valley View as the next progression for Augustin Stable's Angel Terrace.
When the entries came out and Sheppard saw what the daughter of Ghostzapper was up against, the Hall of Famer wasn't so sure he still hadn't managed to throw the 3-year-old filly into deeper waters than intended.
"I kind of wanted to keep her with her age group, and there are not a lot of spots so I thought we'll wait for Keeneland and see," Sheppard said. "Then I picked up the paper and saw how tough it was."
Count Sheppard among the many taken aback by Friday's result as Angel Terrace — dismissed at odds of 27-1 — came flying late to get her nose down just in time and take the first of two divisions of the $125,000 Valley View.
Because of an overflow group of entries, the Valley View was split into divisions for the second time in the race's history. The Steve Margolis-trained Miz Ida took the second division by a neck over English Class, giving her conditioner his first stakes win at Keeneland.
Sheppard's adroit handling of turf fillies has been among the hallmarks of his career. Though Angel Terrace finished fourth in the Nani Rose at Saratoga on July 29, her first try against stakes company, Sheppard felt with a little more pace and a more tactful ride, her one-run style could snag a chunk of purse money.
"She actually ran really well (in the Nani Rose)," Sheppard said. "I told the rider ... there is quite a bit of speed, sit out the back and come with a run and if you can't win it, maybe you can get a piece of it. But he sat out the back and sat out the back ... then flies through the stretch and passes the whole field about five strides after the wire.
"When he got off, he said, 'You think maybe I left a little too late?' I felt like strangling him, but she ran really well that day."
With jockey James Graham in the irons this time, Angel Terrace again brought up the rear of the 12-horse field through an opening half in :48.49 over a course rated firm as Volcat led the procession down the backside.
Coming off the final turn, Angel Terrace weaved up beside favored Colonial Flag and struck the front inside the sixteenth marker, but she had an equally game Miss Cato charging outside at her hip. Those two matched strides to the wire with Angel Terrace getting up for her third win in seven career starts, covering the 11⁄16 miles in 1:44.77.
Miss Cato was 2 lengths clear of third-place finisher Zapper Belle.
Narrow finishes were the order of the day in the Valley View as Miz Ida stymied long shot English Class's upset bid to earn her third consecutive triumph and sixth career win over five different tracks.
Owned and bred by Richard, Bertram and Elaine Kline, the 3-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen angled out in the stretch and kicked on once she found daylight, winning in 1:44.25.
"Horses that have that come-from-behind race in them, you have to let them run and kick in at the end," said Margolis, who added that a start in the Grade II Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 would likely be next.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.