10/05/2012 6:28PM

Keeneland: Spring In the Air rushes home to win Alcibiades

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Spring In the Air, with Patrick Husbands riding, takes the Darley Alcibiades.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mark Casse has been touting for months the potential of the 2-year-old crop he has under his training care this year. At least in this timely instance, Casse was proven absolutely right on opening day of the Keeneland fall meet Friday when Spring In the Air, with Patrick Husbands riding for Casse and owner John Oxley, rolled home a winner in the 61st running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes.

Coming off a runner-up finish behind a Casse stablemate, Spring Venture, in the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes over the turf at her home base at Woodbine, Spring In the Air returned $10.60 as the lukewarm favorite in a full field of 14 2-year-old fillies. Broken Spell, a 21-1 shot, finished a length behind the winner in second and another two lengths before Magical Moon.

"We've been fortunate," said Casse. "We've had some good fillies in the past, but I think these two are exceptional. I've only run them on the grass and the Poly because those were the races there for them. I think they could be any kind over any surface."

By virtue of the Win and You're In designation of the Alcibiades, Spring In the Air could race next with all expenses paid in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

Before an ontrack crowd of 18,417, La Song sped out to the early lead in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race, but by the quarter pole, Magical Moon had taken over after stalking the pace from a forward outside position. Magical Moon, the 9-2 second choice, briefly opened up, but then Spring In the Air, as far back as 10th early, came with an outside rush to notch her first stakes victory in four overall starts. A bay Ontario-bred by Spring at Last, she finished in 1:44.33 and earned $240,000.

"Actually I was getting a good trip," said Husbands. "From there I was on a classy filly."

Broken Spell, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, rallied from second-to-last under Rajiv Maragh to be second.

Among the disappointments was the Calder filly, Rose to Gold, who had won her first two career starts, both small stakes, by a combined 26 1/2 lengths. She was never a factor, finishing 12th.

The $2 exacta (9-6) paid $163.40; the $1 trifecta (9-6-13) returned $571.70; and the dime superfecta (9-6-13-10) was worth $558.87.

Oxley, known best for winning the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos, has employed Casse as his main trainer for the last couple of years, with his former longtime trainer, John T. Ward Jr., having switched careers to be the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Spring Venture, owned by Stoneway Farm and Gary Barber, was scheduled to run Saturday in the Grade 3 Mazarine at Woodbine.