MADISON STAKES | PURSE: $300,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
After knocking on the door in Grade 1 events for the better part of three years, owner-trainer Wesley Ward's Judy the Beauty finally earned her top-level laurels on Saturday with an authoritative victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Madison under John Velazquez.
Traveling seven furlongs on the Keeneland Polytrack, a surface over which she was undefeated in three starts going into the Madison, Judy the Beauty maintained that unblemished mark with a 2 ½-length triumph as the 3-5 favorite.
Enjoying a midpack stalking trip, a couple of lengths behind the dueling pair of Eden Prairie and Wildcat Lily, who exchanged leads fractions of :23 seconds and :46 ⅖ seconds, Judy the Beauty surged into contention with a four-wide bid around the turn. Getting the jump on eventual runner-up Better Lucky, the daughter of Ghostzapper extended her advantage to the wire and finished up in 1:22 ⅘ and paid $3.20 to win.
Making a rare non-turf appearance, multiple Grade 1 winner Better Lucky finished 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Apropos, who led Heir Kitty, Eden Prairie, Cozze Up Lady, Byrama, and Wildcat Lily across the wire. Saturday Nthe Park was scratched.
Judy the Beauty, whose previous Grade 1 placings occurred in the 2011 Spinaway, 2012 Prioress, and 2013 editions of the Princess Rooney Handicap and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, had three prior stakes wins to her credit: the 2011 Shady Well at Woodbine, the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland last October over multiple champion Groupie Doll, and the Las Flores at Santa Anita on March 9. She's also placed in past editions of the Gallant Bloom Handicap, Winning Colors, and Presque Isle Downs Masters.
"I'm ecstatic. She's been so unlucky so many different times when she's been beaten right on the money. To finally vindicate with a Grade 1 [victory] is just unbelievable," said Ward, who saw Judy the Beauty improve her lifetime mark to 15-7-7-1, $1,005,757
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Judy the Beauty was a $20,000 Keeneland September yearling. The five-year-old mare is out of the stakes-winning Holy Bull mare Holy Blitz, and her third dam is the stakes-scoring Horsafire, who would go on in the breeding shed to produce Grade 2 heroine Incinerate, Grade 3 victor Fan the Flame and Judy the Beauty's second dam, multiple stakes winner Pagofire.
Incinerate is herself the dam of both Grade 1 diva and 2005 Kentucky Oaks runner-up In the Gold as well as three-time stakes scorer High Blitz. Another of Horsafire's grandprogeny is Hemingway's Key, who ran third in the 2006 Preakness.
Farther back in this female family one can find champions Affectionately, Bridal Flower, Bimelech and Black Helen as well as blue-hen mare *La Troienne.