There was a certain irony in the fact that the silks Joel Rosario carried in Thursday's Grade III Appalachian Stakes bore a shamrock across the front.
Because if there was one jockey in the Keeneland colony who does not need the aid of any good-luck talismans, it is the 28-year-old who is riding full-time at the historic track for the first time this Spring Meet.
Rosario's takeover of Keeneland took another leap forward Thursday as he entered the day with a meet-leading 15 wins to his credit and collected five more from seven mounts on the card.
His fifth and final score came fittingly in the biggest spot as Rosario guided Michael McGuire's Unbelievable Dream to a spectacular last-to-first rally for a half-length victory in the $100,000 Appalachian Stakes, going 1 mile on the turf.
Rosario bagged four winners on the opening Sunday of the meet and has been the clear leader in the standings since.
Unbelievable Dream, however, did some major catching up in her fourth career outing. The 3-year-old daughter of Kitalpha was more than 6 lengths behind the pack in the field of eight as Eden Prairie clicked off an opening half in :47.39.
"It looked like they were going a little quick early and that's why I was a little too far back, but she was really impressive," said Rosario, who is slated to ride Grade I winner Orb in the Kentucky Derby. "You don't see this really often with horses.
"I knew I had some pretty good chances today, but it's not easy to win even one here. To win 3-4-5 was amazing."
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Unbelievable Dream didn't make her career debut until November, winning on the turf at Aqueduct with what has become her trademark late-running style.
"She had some growing-up issues, so we took our time with her," said McGuire, who races under the name Sure Thing Stables. "We had to back off on her for a little bit, but Barclay took her from there and here we are today."
Still next to last at the head of the lane in her graded stakes debut, Unbelievable Dream got her chestnut legs in gear by midstretch and came up three-wide to catch Overheard, hitting the wire in 1:37.91 over a firm course at odds of 9-2.
Graded stakes winner Watsdachances, the 3-5 favorite, flattened out to finish fourth.
"She was back a little further than I thought, but Joel is such a terrific rider, he got it done," said Tagg, who said he had no immediate plans for her next race. "I told him she likes to come from the clouds and I'm a firm believer that if they want to come from out of it, they want to come from out of it no matter what the pace is.
"She likes to do it, and she likes to win."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.