04/13/2017 6:19PM

La Coronel makes easy work of Appalachian Stakes

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La Coronel paid $9.20 in winning the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on Thursday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – On paper, it wasn’t supposed to be this lopsided. What was supposed to be a contentious renewal of the Appalachian Stakes turned into a one-filly parade Thursday at Keeneland when La Coronel glided home a 3 1/4-length winner in the Grade 3 turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Kept close to the pace by jockey Florent Geroux, La Coronel took the lead near the furlong pole and sailed home. Doing so eased some of the disappointment owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse felt when the filly ran sixth as a lukewarm favorite last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, with several of her Appalachian rivals finishing ahead of her.

“That’s the trip we needed in the Breeders’ Cup,” Casse said.

La Coronel, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Colonel John, returned $9.20 as second choice in the field of 11 after finishing a mile in 1:37.12 over firm turf.

The victory in the $125,000 Appalachian was so impressive that Casse said he will consider running La Coronel back against males in the Grade 2 American Turf on the May 6 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

La Coronel had finished second in her 3-year-old debut, the March 11 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs. Casse revealed after the Appalachian that the filly underwent minor surgery on both knees shortly after the Breeders’ Cup.

“She’s an amazing horse,” he said.

Before a sun-splashed crowd of 10,981, La Coronel rated behind front-runners Like a Hurricane and Morticia through the opening six furlongs of the 29th Appalachian. Geroux had to wait several strides in the upper stretch before his mount had room between that pair, but as Like a Hurricane began to fade, La Coronel shot through, quickly putting the race away.

Morticia, a 34-1 shot, held second by a head over Proctor’s Ledge, with Dream Dancing, another Casse trainee, finishing fourth.

New Money Honey, the 2-1 favorite making her first start since winning the BC Juvenile Turf Fillies last November at Santa Anita, was never a factor, finishing sixth. Neither was Coasted, the BC Juvenile Turf Fillies runner-up; she wound up 10th as the 5-1 third choice.

The $2 exacta (2-11) paid $243.60, the $1 trifecta (2-11-3) returned $1,619.60, and the 10-cent superfecta (2-11-3-1) was worth $775.92.

Casse said running La Coronel against boys would permit him to run Dream Dancing, also owned by Oxley, in the filly-only Edgewood Stakes on May 5 at Churchill, thereby keeping them separated.