10/16/2004 12:00AM

Ticker Tape wins Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

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Keeneland/Bill Straus
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Ticker Tape pulls away from the pack in the stretch to win Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ticker Tape continued her dominance of major turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning the Grade 1 by a half-length over Barancella at Keeneland Saturday.

As in her four prior stakes victories in 2004, Ticker Tape used her powerful closing kick to prevail. Jockey Kent Desormeaux allowed her to settle in sixth place early, as 13-1 longshot River Belle established a reasonable pace of 49.64 and 1:14.43 in the 1 1/8-mile turf race over a course rated soft.

Although far off the pace early, Ticker Tape appeared to be in prime position throughout. Then when asked by Desormeaux on the turn, she closed with a rush, blowing by horses with relative ease.

She quickly advanced into second place entering the stretch, took the lead shortly before reaching the eighth pole, and maintained a comfortable advantage while appearing to coast upon making the lead.

"She loves to race," said Desormeaux. "She loves her job."

Desormeaux said he was momentarily concerned on the far turn when a filly in front of Ticker Tape appeared to be going nowhere. But once he was able to get her in the clear on the outside, she finished powerfully, as he anticipated.

Even a slow pace proved little to overcome. Desormeaux said the wet nature of the turf course made running on the lead tough on the frontrunners. "The track was soft," he said. "It takes its toll."

The Queen Elizabeth was the second Grade 1 victory of the year for Ticker Tape, who also took the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park in June. Prior to the Queen Elizabeth II, she had won the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park.

The winner, a 3-year-old daughter of Royal Applause owned by Jim Ford, Daron Pearson and Jack Sweesy, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.35, paying $5.40 as the favorite in the field of seven.

Barancella, the 2-1 second choice in the wagering, gradually cut into the winner's lead in the final furlong after being passed by her on the final turn. She grabbed second, a half-length in front of the pacesetting River Belle.

Phantom Wind, Mambo Slew, Humorous Miss, and Island Sand completed the order of finish.

Winning trainer Jim Cassidy said he was unlikely to test Ticker Tape in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. The Matriarch at Hollywood Park Nov. 28 will likely be her next race, he said.