FRANKLIN, Ky.— When the marathon was done at Kentucky Downs late Tuesday afternoon, the two horses most everybody expected to be right there at the end, were right there.
On this day, Adventuring, the 5-2 second choice in the field of nine, was just a little bit better than Family Way, the 4-5 favorite.
The 11th running of the G3, $550,000 AGS Ladies Marathon for fillies and mares aged 3 up, went to Adventuring and jockey Joel Rosario, who finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Family Way and Tyler Gaffalione in the 1 5/16-mile race.
“Perfect trip. The filly did all the work,” Rosario said. “You can see the way she runs that if someone challenges her, she keeps moving forward.”
Adventuring, owned by Godolphin and trained by Brad Cox, went straight to the lead over the firm course and carved out fractions of 25.38 for the first quarter, 49.90 for the half and 1:14.24 for six furlongs.
Family Way was never far off, tracking the leader in fourth and then third. With an eighth of a mile to go, Adventuring was still strong and Family Way, who won this race a year ago, was gathering momentum. They just could not get past the winner.
“We had everything our way, we just couldn’t catch the leader,” Gaffalione said. “I’m proud of her. She never disappoints me.”
Adventuring, a 4-year-old daughter of Pioneerof the Nile, won for just the second time in four career starts on the grass. This was just her second start of 2022; the first came at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 6 when she won by 2 1/2 lengths over a sloppy track in a stakes that was taken off the grass.
That was her first start since December.
“She had a long break over the winter time,” said Michael Banahan, the director of bloodstock for Darley America/Godolphin. “We got her back going again. Brad and his team have done a great job. Distance of ground is what’s key for her.”
Getting Adventuring back to Kentucky Downs was the obvious play for the Cox barn. Last year, she won the $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks in similar fashion, going to the lead and drawing off to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
“She’s a horse for the course,” Cox said by phone. “She obviously had success here last year. We zeroed in on this race, came up with a game plan. We were hoping to get a similar trip to what she got last year. Joel did a great job and left something for the finish up the hill and she responded when asked.”
“She gets very competitive when she gets the lead,” Rosario said. “She keeps galloping and galloping. She looked like she was really relaxed.”
Family Way had earned favoritism after her last two starts, even though they did not produce wins.
She ran in a pair of G1 stakes, finishing third in the $500,000 Beverly D. at Churchill Downs on Aug. 13 at 1 1/2 miles and second in the $750,000 New York Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10 at 1 1/4 miles.
“She has come up big in some really good spots,” Gaffalione said. “She has gone up against some of the best fillies in the country and has held her own pretty well. She shows up every time.”
“We felt that horses that perform well on this track come back and do it again,” Banahan said. “The two fillies that had the form here ended up 1-2 again.”
Family Way, who was once owned by Godolphin, is a daughter of Uncle Mo and owned by Fergus Galvin’s Hunter Valley Farm, Debra L. O’Connor and Marc Detampel.
“The winner is a nice filly, too,” Family Way’s trainer Brendan Walsh said. “She’s the one filly I was afraid of. Hats off to her. Listen, I’m not disappointed. She ran her race. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Adventuring’s final time was 2:08.28 and she returned $7.80.
Luck Money finished a neck behind Family Way in third and was followed home by Stand Tall, Viburnum, Oliviaofthedesert, Flippant, Disappearing Act and Core Values.
Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: Adventuring and Joel Rosario won the $550,000 AGS Ladies Marathon over 2021 winner Family Way (Coady Photography)