10/22/2017 5:27PM

Apple Betty notches first graded stakes win in Dowager

Coady Photography
Apple Betty paid $8 in winning the Dowager at Keeneland on Sunday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Apple Betty did everything but win when racing in the Grade 3 Dowager at Keeneland last year, taking command in the stretch and losing by a nose to Electrum, while well clear of the rest of the pack.

Back for a return try in Sunday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Dowager, this time Apple Betty didn’t have to settle for a secondary prize, blowing past rivals at the top of the stretch to win by 3 1/2 lengths under a ground-saving ride from John Velazquez before a crowd of 16,650 at Keeneland.

In victory Apple Betty notched the most lucrative paycheck of her 14-race career, and captured her first graded stakes victory. That accomplishment, along with her being a full sister to 2013 Breeders’ Cup winner Magician by Galileo, makes her immensely valuable as an eventual broodmare.

Although the outcome of the Dowager was never in doubt down the lane, the race didn’t unfold as most anticipated. The presence of numerous speed horses in the lineup apparently caused some jockeys to alter their mounts’ usual tactics, and the pace of the 1 1/2-mile Dowager proved surprisingly slow, with Daddy’s Boo going to the front and setting splits of 26.37 seconds, 51.21, and 1:15.77 over a firm turf course.

The dawdling pace caused some horses to grow rank, limiting their effectiveness – though not so with Apple Betty. “She was tugging me along, but she was controllable and after that it was pretty easy,” Velazquez said.

Second choice in the field of 10, she raced 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.80, paying $8.

Winning trainer Shug McGaughey, who trains Apple Beatty for Joseph Allen, felt her powerful performance Sunday was partially the result of more time between starts, and being able to sit behind horses, in contrast to when she went to the lead and faded to fourth in her last race, the Grade 3 Waya at Saratoga on Aug. 5.

“The way she was in behind horses today, and he [Velazquez] was able to wait for that hole to be able to finish – that was a big key,” he said.

Second in the Dowager was Promotional, who rallied from ninth to finish 1 1/4 lengths clear of favored Lottie in third. Both horses closed well to finish where they did, given the pace that never materialized.