La Coronel won the race, and his owner took home the gold.
Thursday’s $125,000, Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland produced a rare milestone at the track.
La Coronel’s 3 1/4 -length stroll in the featured race of the afternoon gave owner John C. Oxley his eighth career graded stakes victory at Keeneland in front of 10,981 fans.
In recognition of that achievement, Oxley earned a Keeneland Tray. The Keeneland Tray is part of the track’s Milestone Trophy Program. Only 19 other owners in Keeneland history have reached the Tray level.
“If anybody deserves it, he deserves it,” said Mark Casse, trainer of La Coronel. “There was a lot of pressure (laughs). I was a little nervous about that. I’m glad he got it.”
Owners receive a Keeneland Trophy Cup for every graded stakes they win. When they win eight, they receive a tray on which to place them. The tray and the cups, handcrafted by Tiffany and Co., are made of sterling silver and hand engraved before they’re dipped in 24-karat gold.
The next achievement in the trophy program is the Keeneland Pitcher, the reward for eight additional graded stakes wins. Eight more wins earn the Keeneland Bowl and another eight yield the highest honor, the Keeneland Vase.
Claiborne Farm is the only owner to reach the bowl level. Bwamazon Farm and William S. Farish have secured the pitcher.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Florent Geroux, La Coronel covered the mile on a firm turf course in 1:37.12 for her second victory in as many tries at Keeneland. Last fall, she won the Grade 3 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine by 4 1/4 lengths.
La Coronel returned $9.40, $5.20 and $3.60. Morticia, ridden by Jose Lezcano, returned $28.40 and $13.80 and finished a head in front of Proctor’s Ledge, who returned $8 to show under Corey Lanerie.
“This filly had double knee surgery after the (sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November), and for her to come back and do what she just did … it took a lot of people and a lot of hard work,” Casse said. “We’re really proud of her.”
Coming up Friday
▪ Highlighting Friday’s program is the $300,000, Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile for 4-year-olds and up that will go as the ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. post time. Heart to Heart, second in last year’s Maker’s 46 Mile, is the 3-1 favorite.