Updated on 09/17/2011 5:42PM

Stay Forever overcomes slow pace

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Bill Straus/Keeneland
Stay Forever rallies to win the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy by a half-length at Keeneland on Sunday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Conventional handicapping wisdom holds that frontrunners benefit in slow-paced races, while closers struggle. Stay Forever, despite being a late-runner, defies that thinking.

Rallying from last in a field of nine in Sunday's $500,000, Grade 2 , Stay Forever overcame a dawdling pace, outquickening her opponents to beat Super Brand by a half-length.

Patiently handled by jockey Eddie Castro, she settled seven lengths behind the pacesetting Shaconage, as that one set easy splits of 25.20 seconds, 50.08 and 1:14.35 while being pursued by Dimitrova and Spice Island, the co-favorites at 5-2 odds.

Although the soft fractions did not weaken the leaders, it left the field bunched for much of the race, leaving Stay Forever always in touch with her opponents.

Once the field turned in to the stretch, the race turned into a contest of who could produce the fastest closing burst. None could match the finish of Stay Forever. Even with Super Brand surging to the lead under confident handling from Pat Day, she was unable to contain the winner in the final sixteenth of the mile.

"The pace was slow," said Castro. "And she finished very, very good."

She raced 1 3/16 miles on a firm course in 1:57.08, well off the stakes and course record time of 1:53.91 set by Happyanunoit in 1999. She paid $18.

In winning the biggest stakes race of her career, the Calder-based Stay Forever - a 7-year-old daughter of Stack, improved her record to 10 wins from 17 starts with earnings of $910,199 for the Santa Cruz ranch and trainer Marty Wolfson. The victory followed a three-month layoff after a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont July 5.

Super Brand, a South African filly that made just her second U. S. start in the Galaxy, finished a clear second, 1.5 lengths in front of the pacesetting Shaconage. Dimitrova, Alchemist, Jacira, Spice Island, Bedanken and Lady Liberty completed the order of finish.

* The $110,600 Storm Cat Stakes, run an hour before the Galaxy on Sunday, was fittingly won by Good Reward, a son of Storm Cat.

After racing in graded stakes company in three of his last four starts, he relished the drop into an ungraded stakes, easily outkicking Fort Prado and Silver Ticket to win the mile turf race for 3-year-olds in 1:36.50.

Trained by Shug McGaughey and owned by a partnership headed by Odgen Mills Phipps, Good Reward rallied from seventh and paid $7.40 as the second choice in the field of eight.

"Shug told me to just sit on him, get him to relax and make on final run with him," winning jockey Edgar Prado said.

Out of the Grade 1-stakes winning mare Heavenly Prize, he won for the third time in 11 starts. He had been fourth behind Prince Arch in his preceding start, the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.

Fort Prado edged Silver Ticket by a neck for the runner-up position. Favored Cool Conductor, rank on the lead for much of the race under Pat Day, faded to fourth.