04/15/2009 11:00PM

Afternoon Stroll springs 50-1 surprise


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Afternoon Stroll won a head-bobbing finish before surviving an objection in a stunning upset of the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes on a cool Thursday afternoon at Keeneland.

With Jamie Theriot riding, Afternoon Stroll returned $102.60 as the longest shot in a field of nine 3-year-old turf fillies after outnodding Hot Cha Cha on the wire. The Keeneland stewards quickly dismissed an objection by Kent Desormeaux, rider of fourth-place finisher Our Dahlia, for alleged interference.

"She had a nice stalking position and was really game down the lane," Theriot said afterward.

The Appalachian victory was the second in a $100,000 stakes for the Tim Hamm-trained Afternoon Stroll, following the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs last August. None of her previous six races had been beyond six furlongs or on turf, helping to explain why she was such a long price in the one-mile grass race, which was completed in 1:37.67.

Ontrack attendance was 10,723.

'Rachel' sharp in Oaks workout

Rachel Alexandra, the likely favorite for the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, went through an impressive workout Thursday morning at Churchill Downs in Louisville under regular rider Calvin Borel.

Gliding over a fast track just after the renovation break, Rachel Alexandra went five furlongs in 59.40 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.60.

"She galloped out really good," said trainer Hal Wiggins. "That's about the way she does it."

Rachel Alexandra will enter the Grade 1 Oaks off four stakes wins, with the latest coming in the April 5 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park.

Another top Oaks prospect, Justwhistledixie, was scheduled to work Friday over the main Polytrack surface at Keeneland.

Gomez gets ride on Stardom Bound

In other Oaks news, Stardom Bound will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who replaces Mike Smith. The switch was confirmed Thursday by Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables, which owns majority interest in the filly.

Stardom Bound, the reigning divisional champion, finished third in her last start, the April 4 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, snapping a win streak of five straight races, all Grade 1 events.

Iavarone said he eventually would have had to replace Smith because Smith also is the regular rider of the undefeated champion older female Zenyatta.

Gomez has won the Eclipse Award for top jockey the last two years.

"Any time you can get Garrett, that can only help you," said Iavarone.

Meanwhile, trainer Rick Dutrow said "we're still thinking about" whether Stardom Bound will work at Keeneland, where she is stabled, or at Churchill.

Giant's Causeway good betting race

The primary focus of the Saturday card at Keeneland is the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, but for pure wagering value, it would be difficult to surpass the secondary feature, the $100,000 Giant's Causeway.

Among the fillies and mares in the 5 1/2-furlong turf race are Diamondrella and Genuine Devotion, a pair of New York-based mares who each won four straight races before going on vacation. Diamondrella, trained by Angel Penna Jr., has been away since winning the Oct. 12 Xtra Heat on the Belmont Park turf, while Genuine Devotion, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has been off since shipping to Churchill to win the Grade 3 Locust Grove last July.

Their chief opposition steps up with less flashy form but more recency, most notably Just for Keeps, winner of the Queen Stakes last month at Turfway Park, and Coy Cat and Lady Chace, the respective one-two finishers in the Bienville Stakes on the Louisiana Derby undercard at Fair Grounds.

In all, 14 were entered but only as many as 12 can start.

Good day for longshot players

A parade of longshots came through Wednesday on the nine-race card at Keeneland. Indian Footsteps ($83.20) gave Gerry Carwood the first winner of his training career in the third race. Original Ink ($53.40) won the fifth, Bad Jenna Lee ($51.60) took the sixth, and Libor Lady ($27.40) won the eighth-race allowance feature under John Velazquez.

The multi-race wagers late on the program returned monster mutuels, including the late pick four (races 6-9), which paid $36,158.80 on a 50-cent wager. Only three winning 50-cent tickets were sold.

* Country music superstar LeAnn Rimes will sing the national anthem at Churchill on Derby Day in what will be the first individual rendition of the anthem at the Derby. In prior years, only an instrumental version has been played early in the day, but Rimes will perform shortly after 5 p.m. Eastern for the huge television audience.

* For the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Churchill will permit patrons to bring coolers to the Oaks and Derby, although alcohol and glass containers remain prohibited. The coolers can be brought into the infield only.

* A field of seven older horses has been entered for the Sunday feature at Keeneland, the Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack. From the rail, they are Adriano, Grasshopper, Dominican, Your Round, Monba, Sterwins, and Parading.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen and David Grening