Sarah Sis earns rest with hard-fought win in Keeneland's Lexus Raven Run

Sarah Sis, a 17-1 shot, capped an eventful 10-start year with a full-charge victory in the Grade II Lexus Raven Run at Keeneland.
Sarah Sis, a 17-1 shot, capped an eventful 10-start year with a full-charge victory in the Grade II Lexus Raven Run at Keeneland.

Sarah Sis hasn't missed a dance. Not even when she was tripping — and choking — herself up.

Since the beginning of 2015, the daughter of Sharp Humor has been laying herself down against some of the best in the 3-year-old filly ranks. On Saturday, Sarah Sis stepped into the gate of the Grade II, $250,000 Lexus Raven Run for her 10th start this year, her last outing before getting an already scheduled vacation.

That promised rest and relaxation became even more deserved as Sarah Sis inched clear in the final strides to edge Bar of Gold and dead-game long shot I'm a Looker by half a length to win the 7-furlong Raven Run.

The Raven Run marked the third graded stakes win for Sarah Sis in a season that has seen her maintain consistent form despite a series of minor setbacks.

In the Kentucky Oaks, she was pulled up by jockey Gary Stevens when he felt her bobble and subsequently treated for mild heat exhaustion. She had to miss a planned start in the Grade I Test Stakes in August when she choked on a piece of hay, slightly damaging her esophagus and, days before her sixth-place finish in the Grade III Charles Town Oaks on Sept. 19, she had an allergic reaction after eating some lime on the bottom of the stall.

"She's had some little things that have gone on and that's why we've been wanting to give her a vacation, and she needs it," said trainer Ingrid Mason, who earned her first stakes win at Keeneland. "She's been in training since she was 2 and little things happen because they are under stress.

"She was doing extremely well coming into this race and I even told the owners it was the best I'd ever had her. But she's had all these other things and she's deserving of a vacation. This is something we planned to do and I'm sticking to it."

That lackluster run at Charles Town scared the betting public into letting Sarah Sis go off at 17-to-1 odds. However, Joe Ragsdale's filly has been able to make her talents work in varied circumstances, winning last October at Keeneland going 61/2 furlongs and then taking the Grade III Honeybee Stakes and Grade III Iowa Oaks this year, both over the 11⁄16-mile distances.

The Raven Run's 7-furlong distance is something Mason had penciled in as the filly's ideal preference. With jockey Florent Geroux in the irons, Sarah Sis sat a stalking trip in second as race favorite Bar of Gold kept things honest, but not crazy, through fractions of 23.23 and 46.37.

"Someone else wanted to go and was able to set very reasonable fractions" Geroux said. "My filly was very relaxed where she was. Down the stretch when I asked her, she gave everything she's got. She was very brave."

Sarah Sis withstood a late run from 42-to-1 shot I'm a Looker en route to notching her sixth win in her 13th career start.

Final time for the distance was 1:22.96.

"I didn't have a very good meet so far, so today has definitely been a turnaround from that," Mason said. "I mean my filly is a nice filly. I can give her 30 days now and she can get some sun still and some green grass. It's something you don't normally want to do with a horse like her because she makes everybody money. But she deserves a break."