Updated on 09/16/2011 9:27AM

Riskaverse rules QE II at 7-1

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Riskaverse (outside) battles Zenda through the final furlong before taking a nose decision in the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - After driving past a pack of front-runners in tandem, Riskaverse nosed out Zenda in a thrilling final furlong in the $500,000 before a packed house of 26,714 at Keeneland Saturday.

Riskaverse, a 7-1 shot in a field of nine 3-year-old turf fillies, was up in the frantic final jumps to defeat the British invader Zenda by a neck, giving trainer Pat Kelly his second Grade 1 upset in a two-week span. Kelly won the Sept. 28 Jockey Club Gold Cup with Evening Attire.

Riskaverse was ridden by Mark Guidry in the 19th running of the QE II, a 1 1/8-mile race that often serves as a major barometer for 3-year-old turf fillies. The winner returned $17.20 with the fifth and richest victory of her 12-race career.

"She really showed a lot of heart and determination for me today," said Guidry.

Before the biggest Keeneland crowd in four years, Little Treasure set the early pace, pressed by Alozaina, Distant Valley, and Lush Soldier. Several lengths back, Wonder Again and Zenda lurked in striking position, while Megahertz trailed.

Past the furlong pole, as Alozaina and Lush Soldier held Wonder Again at bay, and Megahertz failed to deliver her usual late kick, Riskaverse and Zenda pulled away on the outside, staging a ding-dong battle to the finish. Riskaverse, a Dynaformer filly owned by the Fox Ridge Farm of Peter M. Schiff, finished in 1:49.84 over a yielding course, more than four seconds slower than the stakes record set six years ago by Memories of Silver.

Zenda, a Juddmonte Farms filly trained by John Gosden, was sent away at 5-1 in making her U.S. debut. She finished six lengths ahead of Lush Soldier, who was the longest shot at 43-1. Alozaina finished fourth, while Wonder Again and Megahertz, the 2-1 co-favorites, were fifth and sixth, respectively.

Kelly said the race might have earned Riskaverse a berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but "we'll figure out what we're going to do in the next day or two," he said.

The large attendance figure was partly attributable to a night football game being played on the nearby University of Kentucky campus. The last time a bigger crowd turned out was Oct. 10, 1998, when 27,234 watched the QE II.

The 1-6 exacta paid $160.80 and the 1-6-8 trifecta paid $3,554.20.