10/05/2007 11:00PM

Vacare wears down Precious Kitten

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Returning to the scene of her greatest victory, Vacare wore down a stubborn Precious Kitten after getting a cagey ride from Corey Nakatani when capturing the 10th running of the Grade 2, $432,000 First Lady on Saturday at Keeneland.

Vacare, winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup last fall over the Keeneland turf, broke sharply, then settled into a good spot several lengths off the lead. Down the stretch, as Precious Kitten put away the other speed, Vacare stayed closest to the rail while moving to challenge and ultimately proving best, taking the one-mile turf race by a half-length.

"I was able to get in a really good spot, and she ran a great race," Nakatani said. "She really showed how much she likes Keeneland."

Quite a Bride, always close, held for third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Precious Kitten and another half-length before Lady of Venice, the 7-5 favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares.

Vacare returned $7.80 as second choice after finishing one mile in 1:35.85 over a firm turf. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Lear Fan, Vacare originally was raced by her breeder, the Lothenbach Stables, before being sold late last year to Sarah and Jon Kelly. Christophe Clement has trained the filly since last winter.

With her sixth victory from eight starts, Vacare earned a guaranteed "Win and You're In" berth in the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Monmouth Park, although Jon Kelly said the decision whether to run in the 1 3/8-mile race would be left to Clement.

Lady of Venice, winner of the CashCall Mile in July for trainer Patrick Biancone, had no mishap.

"I'm stunned," owner Martin Schwartz said. "She's never been beaten like this. Maybe it's the heat."

Unseasonable temperatures soared into the 90s on Saturday.

- Marty McGee

Phoenix: Off Duty outlasts Rebellion

Off Duty won the Grade 3, $203,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup in a performance overshadowed by the death of Dream of Angels in the paddock, and an injury to Teuflesberg during the race itself.

The race began somberly, approximately 15 minutes after Dream of Angels flipped backward while being saddled. Losing his balance, he fell with the brunt of his weight landing on his head. He began to hemorrhage and was put down due to severe head trauma.

Teuflesberg's injury came during the race itself. Racing in third down the backstretch behind early leaders Indian Chant and victorious Off Duty, he appeared to take a bad step and was pulled up by jockey Julien Leparoux.

Teuflesberg suffered "a closed fracture, likely of the sesamoids," and was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington for evaluation, on-call veterinarian Dr. Alan Ruggles said.

Off Duty, in front of Teuflesberg early, avoided trouble from the latter being pulled up and recorded his second straight stakes victory following a win in the Marfa Stakes at Turfway on Sept. 15.

He dispatched of Indian Chant, the 2-1 favorite, after fractions of 23.01 seconds and 46.32 in the six-furlong race and outlasted Rebellion to win by a half-length. Saint Anddan was third, 1 1/2 lengths further behind.

With the Phoenix a "Win and You're In" prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Off Duty earned a guaranteed berth into the Breeders' Cup Sprint, if his connections opt to run there. He is not Breeders' Cup nominated.

"That would be a factor because it may be cost prohibitive," trainer Lynn Whiting said. "He's really good right now. Maybe he will make us go."

The winner, a 4-year-old son of Yes It's True, raced six furlongs under Larry Melancon in 1:10.17, paying $29.40. John Pucek, Brett Selzer, Robert Edwards, and David Fogg own him.

- Byron King

TCA: Wild Gams draws off

Wild Gams rated patiently for Ramon Dominguez before firing her best shot down the lane, drawing off to win the 27th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland.

Wild Gams had just two rivals beat as the field went to the quarter pole in the six-furlong TCA. She found a seam approaching the eighth pole, then angled out and drove clear, finishing 1 1/4 lengths clear of Sugar Swirl. Baroness Thatcher, the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares, had minor traffic trouble before finishing another length back in third.

Wild Gams, a 4-year-old New Jersey-bred by Forest Wildcat, paid $8.20 as second choice after finishing in 1:10 over Polytrack. The victory was her seventh in 16 starts and came in just her second race since being laid up during the summer months.

"She's seemed to come back real well," said Ben Perkins Jr., who trains the filly for his longtime client, the New Farm of Ebby Novak.

Hot Storm, with Mary Delaney in close pursuit, set the early pace before the late runners charged past.

- Marty McGee