10/19/2013 6:31PM

Keeneland: Madame Cactus comes from also-eligible list to take Raven Run

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Coady Photography
Madame Cactus, ridden by Joe Rocco, posts an 11-1 upset in the Grade 2 Raven Run.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In reality, Madame Cactus was more than her 11-1 odds to win the Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run Stakes, considering her chances were rendered further remote by the fact she needed two scratches off the program just to make the field.

But after that happened, the Southern California-based filly capitalized fully with a steady late run down the center of the Polytrack surface at Keeneland to defeat 13 other 3-year-old fillies in the 15th running of the Grade 2 race Saturday.

Madame Cactus, with Joe Rocco Jr. aboard for Marc Farrell and trainer Peter Eurton, ran down Eden Prairie while outkicking My Option to prevail in a three-horse photo. She paid $25.40 after finishing the seven-furlong distance in 1:21.71.

Madame Cactus arrived here Tuesday, shortly after which Eurton was informed to his chagrin that the filly would be relegated to an also-eligibles list. Joe Talamo was scheduled to travel from California to ride her but elected not to make the trip because of the uncertain status, allowing agent Lenny Pike Jr. to pick up the mount for Rocco.

“I’m really thankful they gave me a chance,” said Rocco. “She’s got a real good kick. That last eighth, she just kept on coming.”

Madame Cactus, a Kentucky-bred by Cactus Ridge, raced widest of all from her outside post, closing steadily to prevail by a neck over Eden Prairie, a 10-1 chance who was prominent throughout under Robby Albarado before giving way grudgingly. My Option, the 4-1 second choice, closed well while racing just to the inside of Madame Cactus when finishing another neck back in third.

Ciao Bella Luna, winner of the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes here in the spring, was fourth as the 5-1 third choice, while Silsita, the 3-1 favorite, was never a factor when ninth.

Madame Cactus now has 3 wins from 6 career starts after notching her first graded victory. Trained at 2 by Steve Asmussen, she won the My Trusty Cat and ran fourth in the rich Delta Princess, both at Delta Downs, before being injured and eventually turned over to Eurton. She returned from an absence of more than nine months when second to the multiple graded winner Gypsy Robin in her only prior start this year, the restricted C.E.R.F. Stakes on the Polytrack surface at Del Mar on Sept. 4.

“She’s always been something special,” said Eurton. “Obviously we’re just glad we got a chance for her to show it here. It’s been a fun week.”

Lighthouse Bay, the lone Grade 1 winner in the original lineup, was an early scratch, along with longshot Plenty O’Toole, leaving the Poly maximum of 14.

The $2 exacta (16-14) paid $244.20; the $1 trifecta (16-14-10) returned $741.20; and the 10-cent superfecta (16-14-10-9) was worth $603.18.

Ontrack attendance on a dank and chilly afternoon was 19,196.