10/09/2010 2:11PM

Grilla ends Sand Witchh's nine-race unbeaten streak in Keeneland's first Arabian race

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Grilla, under Ricardo Chiappe, draws clear in the first Arabian race ever run at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The novelty of Arabian racing elicited tremendous interest from racegoers and a mild surprise on the Keeneland Polytrack when Grilla dealt previously undefeated Sand Witchh the first loss of her career Saturday in the $53,250 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, the first race for Arabians in track history.

Grilla, ridden by Ricardo Chiappe, finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Sand Witchh in the 1 1/4-mile race, then survived an objection by William Hollick, the jockey of the runner-up. The stewards dismissed the claim of alleged stretch interference.

Before the race, fans crowded in and around the saddling paddock and walking ring to get a glimpse of the 10 Arabian runners. Enthusiasm among fans was high, as hoots and hollers went up in the grandstand as the field was about to break and for much of the running. The Arabian event was the third of 11 races.

Grilla returned $9.40 as second choice and finished in 2:15.42, which was a very respectable clocking for the breed, although it must be noted that in the following race, 2-year-old allowance runners went six furlongs in a rapid 1:08.88.

Sand Witchh, a 4-year-old filly, was the 4-5 favorite entering the race with a perfect record from nine starts. She finished 10 3/4 lengths ahead of the third finisher, Stoicc.

Several jockeys who normally ride Thoroughbreds had mounts in the race, including Calvin Borel, Miguel Mena, and Garrett Gomez.

Gomez finished fifth on Full of Fiesta. “I rode an Arabian a long time ago, so I kind of knew what to expect,” said Gomez. “You just kind of nurse them along and take what they’ll give you.”