04/19/2005 11:00PM

Colony Band loves America

Bill Straus/Keeneland
Colony Band wins the $109,700 Doubledogdare at Keeneland on Wednesday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Colony Band, a cut below the top fillies on turf in France, has found life in America far more rewarding. Wednesday, she won her first stakes in the United States, capturing the $109,700 over the Keeneland main track.

Capitalizing on an inside post, Colony Band saved ground and took the lead almost by default, due in part to wide trips from several key rivals. Once in front, she set moderate fractions of 47.70 seconds and 1:12.79, and easily put away her rivals on the final turn. After opening up a 4 1/2-length lead in midstretch, she coasted home 3 1/4 lengths in front of the late-running La Reason.

Jockey John Velazquez said Colony Band won comfortably and received only minimal encouragement from him.

"I gave her a tap to keep her mind on business," he said.

Colony Band, a 4-year-old daughter of Dixieland Band trained by Todd Pletcher, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast but tiring surface in 1:46.15. She paid $3.60 as the favorite.

In three starts since coming to America, she now has two wins and a second - with her current U.S. earnings easily surpassing what she made in nine starts overseas.

"She seems to have a lot of class," said Velazquez, who rode her for the first time in the Doubledogdare. "I think she has a good future."

La Reason easily distanced the rest of the pack in finishing second, checking in 16 lengths in front of Enders' Sister, the 5-2 second choice.

Eccellenza, a dual Group 1-winning filly from Chile, finished fifth in her first start in the U.S.