08/04/2010 5:31PM

Miss Keller rallies to win De La Rose


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Javier Castellano continued his torrid Saratoga summer while the Canadian-based trainer Roger Attfield continued his successful invasion of the New York turf stakes program Wednesday at Saratoga.

Despite having to go six wide in the stretch, Castellano guided Miss Keller to a one-length victory over Keertana in the $70,000 De La Rose Stakes. It was three lengths back to Dreamt in third.

The victory was the fourth on the card for Castellano, who earlier on July 25 won five races on a card. The win gave Attfield his third stakes triumph on this circuit in two months. Attfield won the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park with Lady Shakespeare and earlier this meet took the Grade 2 Lake George with Fantastic Shirl.

Miss Keller, an Irish-bred 4-year-old daughter of Montjeu owned by Three Chimneys Racing, won for the fourth time in 14 starts and captured her first North American stakes in five tries.

Miss Keller had the outside post in the nine-horse field, and settled into seventh position while three wide down the backstretch. Be Fair and My Baby Baby set a contested pace of 23.88 seconds and 47.22 with Miss Keller about seven lengths behind.

Castellano launched his bid around the turn, but had to go wide with his mare turning for home. Still, he had enough horse to power to overpower Be Fair at the eighth pole and easily hold off Keertana, who had to wait for running room in the stretch before rallying wide.

Miss Keller covered the mile over a good inner turf course in 1:34.88 and returned $7.40 as the second choice.

Castellano said the key to victory was getting Miss Keller to relax down the backside,

“She doesn’t like to be rushed too much, she doesn’t like you to be aggressive and hit her,” said Castellano, who had won an allowance race on Miss Keller at Keeneland in April. “You got to hand-ride her and be very patient. That’s exactly what I did.”

Miss Keller raced with a protective eye cover after getting hit with a clump of grass in her eye when she was second in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine on June 5.

“She had a little cut on her eye and Roger seems to come out with some interesting headgear every race,” said Joe Miller, who works for the bloodstock agency Kern Lillingston, which purchased Miss Keller from Europe for Three Chimneys.

Miller said the main objective for Miss Keller is the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland on Oct. 9. She could start in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa here on Aug. 28 next.

Castellano’s other wins on the card came with Bug Juice ($5.80) in the second, Daily Star ($5.30) in the third and Convocation ($2.60) in the seventh. He missed out on a fifth win by a nose in the last when Silver Medallion, under John Velazquez, outlasted Forum.

Through 11 days of the meet, Castellano and Velazquez are tied atop the jockey standings with 16 wins apiece.

Meanwhile, trainer Chad Brown went 3 for 3 on the card and is now a meet-best 9 for 17 here. Brown won the second with Fiscal Stimulus ($3.10), the third with Kid Kate ($3.80) and the nightcap with Silver Medallion ($9.50).