02/20/2011 7:18PM

Keertana spurts clear chasing dawdling pace in The Very One

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Adam Coglianese
Keertana holds off 24-1 longshot Zappatition by a half-length in The Very One.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   “I left my buggy at Pompano” was trainer Tom Proctor’s initial response to the trotter-like pace that ultimately led to his Keertana registering a game half-length decision over longshot Zapparition in Sunday’s $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Keertana stalked early splits of 26.35 seconds, 53.03, and 1:20.07 set by the Chilean superstar Belle Watling over the firm course for the first six furlongs of the1 3/8-muile Grade 3 stakes. Keertana, with jockey Jose Lezcano aboard, and Zapparition challenged the leader upon settling into the stretch with Keertana proving the better of the pair, gradually edging away to the second graded stakes win of her career and second victory this season.

Trainer Dale Romans sent out both the second- and third-place finishers in The Very One with Musical Rain finishing another 1 3/4 lengths behind her stablemate Zapparition to be third.

Despite setting such a snail like pace, Belle Watling faded to finish fourth, nearly three lengths behind the winner while beating only Changing Skies, the 6-5 favorite s who steadied very sharply along the inside behind the tiring leader near the eighth pole to lose all chance. The defeat ended a 10-race winning streak for Belle Watling ,who was purchased privately and sent to the U.S. following the conclusion of her perfect 4-year-old campaign in Chile.

Keertana, a 5-year-old daughter of Johar who finished third while beaten only a half- length in the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf, is owned by her breeder Barbara Hunter. She completed the distance in 2:19.33 and paid $7.20.

“The slow pace was okay for me because she’s won at a mile and I knew she could win a dash,” said Proctor. “This wasn’t a legit race because of the pace. Jockeys get lost in a five-horse field. The same thing happened in the Flower Bowl, which is why we put up $60,000 to run in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Proctor said he was unsure what would be next for Keertana.

“I might run her at Tampa because I don’t think this race took a lot out of her,” said Proctor, referring to the Grade 3 Hillsborough on March 12. “Or I could come back here in the Orchid.”                                               

The Grade 3, 1 1/2-mile Orchid will be run here on March 20.