10/10/2014 5:01PM

Free as a Bird extends winning streak to five in Franklin County

Coady Photography
Free as a Bird, with Joel Rosario aboard, scores as the 5-2 second choice in the Franklin County Stakes.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – True to her name, Free as a Bird came flying when let loose in the stretch Friday in posting her fifth straight victory, all in ungraded turf-sprint stakes, by finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of favored Ageless in the $100,000 Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Free as a Bird returned $7.20 as second choice in a field of 12 fillies and mares after finishing the 5 1/2-furlong distance in 1:03.60 over yielding turf.

Richies Sweetheart showed herself the speed of the speed in the Franklin County when suddenly surging clear after turning for home. But then the two favorites came with their reliable rallies, with Free as a Bird getting first run on Ageless for her eighth triumph in 21 career starts, and sixth from her last seven.

Free as a Bird, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred by Hard Spun, was bred and is owned by Elizabeth Valando. Her four prior races, all wins in New York, began May 11 at Belmont Park and continued through Aug. 25 at Saratoga.

“I tried to make her go longer earlier in her career, but she was just a little too rank,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “Since I shortened her up, she’s been very consistent.”

Sweet Cassiopeia was third, a length behind 9-5 favorite Ageless, when finishing another half-length before late-running Sky Treasure. To My Valentine, Jewel of a Cat, Liz Pendens, and Soft Whisper were early scratches, leaving a field of 12.

Ontrack attendance on a damp, gloomy afternoon was 14,895.

The $2 exacta (12-2) paid $19, the $1 trifecta (12-2-13) returned $85.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (12-2-13-1) was worth $56.56.