10/19/2013 6:31PM

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

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.





Marc Ferrell More than 1 year ago
What a crazy week it was when we found out she would be on the AE and needed 2 scratches to get in. Morning of the race I was told they had one scratch and we were out then at the last minute a 2nd one came in. I agree that we went the easiest way around and was not happy about being 8 wide but she does run better outside horses and earned this win.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The form of the CERF stakes at Del Mar has been flattered. Madame Cactus, 2nd in the race, wins this grade 2 and the winner, Gypsy Robin, ran a game 2nd in the TCA finishing ahead of Groupie Doll.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Rocco is riding like a World Class Jockey... Hey, so I guess he must be.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
No doubt. Nice guy and really good in the saddle.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I agree he is an up and comer but he took this filly 9-wide. Credit to the equine.
Pale Rider More than 1 year ago
Where else could he have gone and won?
Perl More than 1 year ago
That's not the point. You don't give the hockey credit when he takes a horse nine fricken wide. Give him credit for his ride on Lighthouse Bay.
Perl More than 1 year ago
In the prioress. Now that was a thing of beauty.