10/27/2005 12:00AM

J'ray best in Jessamine County

Bill Straus
J'ray and Brice Blanc romp to victory in the Jessamine County Stakes at Keeneland on Thursday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - J'ray and jockey Brice Blanc benefited from a bizarre trip from the front-running favorite, Beau Dare, when driving to victory Thursday in the $112,000 at Keeneland.

Beau Dare, ridden by John McKee, managed to finish second by just three-quarters of a length despite racing extremely wide on both turns of the 1 1/16-mile Jessamine. "I wish she would have settled a little more in hand," said McKee. "When the gate opens, she just wants to run."

J'ray, a 2-year-old filly owned by Lawrence Goichman and trained by Todd Pletcher, returned $24.80 after finishing in 1:45.57 over a turf course rated good. "She got a little roughed up on the turn but when I asked her she gave me a great run," said Blanc.

J'ray, a New York-bred by Distant View, was one of three starters in the race for Pletcher. The others were Dyna's Destiny, who finished third after briefly taking over from Beau Dare in midstretch, and Ready to Talk, who was fifth under jockey Gary Stevens. Ready to Talk was the only mount of the nine-race card for Stevens, keeping the Hall of Fame jockey's victory count at 4,999.

Heavenly Oil and Halfkarat were early scratches, leaving a field of eight.