04/02/2010 11:00PM

Evening Jewel uncatchable in Ashland

Evening Jewel holds off It's Tea Time in the Ashland

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The wire arrived just in time Saturday for Evening Jewel when the front-running California filly held on to beat longshot It's Tea Time by a neck in the 73rd running of the at Keeneland.

With Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Jim Cassidy, Evening Jewel took control of the 1 1/16-mile Ashland after breaking from the outside post in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies, then suddenly spurted away from her closest pursuer, Protesting, to open a big lead that proved insurmountable.

"I elected to feel out the start, and I was able to take control," said Desormeaux. "This filly really took off with me about a quarter-mile out. I left the rest of them with a lot to do."

Evening Jewel returned $12.60 as fifth choice after finishing in 1:43.54 over Polytrack.

She Be Wild, the 5-2 favorite, finished third, another three-quarters of a length behind It's Tea Time. She was followed by Protesting, Upperline, Apple Charlotte, Negligee, and Beautician.

Evening Jewel, a California-bred by Northern Afleet, "more than likely" will proceed to Churchill Downs for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks, said Cassidy.

Evening Jewel, owned by the Braly Family Trust of Tom and Marilyn Braly, earned $240,000 with her third victory from eight career starts. She also has been second four times.

"She's a very honest, very straightforward filly," said Cassidy. "She gives you everything she has every time."

Evening Jewel further flattered the form of her Southern California contingent of 3-year-old fillies. She was coming off a nose defeat in the Feb. 13 Las Virgenes Stakes to Blind Luck, who won the Fantasy Stakes on Friday at Oaklawn Park and might well be the favorite in the Oaks.

The stakes victory was the second in a Grade 1 event at Keeneland for Cassidy. His lone stakes win here came with Ticker Tape in the 2004 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

It's Tea Time, a Dynaformer filly making just her third start, was gaining rapidly along the rail after racing well back for much of the trip. She angled out late and came up a neck short as the longest shot in the field at 18-1.

"My filly ran really well, even with the Poly hitting her in the face," said jockey Alan Garcia, who rode It's Tea Time for trainer Rusty Arnold. "She almost got there in time."

Arnold said It's Tea Time likely will run in the Oaks, too. "We think she's that kind of horse," he said. "She's trained great at Churchill."

The trophy presentation was made by Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear. Ontrack attendance was 17,696.