Caramel Swirl Edges Joy’s Rocket to win Lexus Raven Run and give Godolphin Unique Keeneland Milestone

October 24, 2021

He’smyhoneybadger takes Perryville in stakes-record time

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 23, 2021) – Godolphin’s homebred Caramel Swirl prevailed by a head over Joy’s Rocket to win the 23rd running of the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday afternoon to give owner Godolphin its eighth Keeneland stakes victory to earn a Keeneland Tray as part of the track’s Milestone Trophy Program.

Earlier on the program, Steve Landers Racing’s He’smyhoneybadger held off a late charge from Ram by a head to take the 14th running of the $150,000 Perryville for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Caramel Swirl covered the 7 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:23.42. It is the first win in the race for both Mott and Alvarado.

Strong Silent, Cilla and Miss Speedy battled through early fractions of :22.66 and :45.89 as Joy’s Rocket rated just behind the leaders on the inside and Caramel Swirl raced in the clear in the next flight.

The three leaders continued their battle at the head of the stretch, where Joy’s Rocket and Caramel Swirl began to move as a team in the middle of the track. Cilla forged to the front by a length at the eighth pole but was overtaken approaching the sixteenth pole by Caramel Swirl and Joy’s Rocket, who dueled to the finish line.

“She is just very honest. She’s a very classy filly. She does everything you need to do in the race. Today we were in a little tough spot on the backside, and I needed to get a little bit out of that spot because I wasn’t really comfortable there, and she helped me to get out of there,” said Alvarado.

“Then at the same time, when I decided to pick it up a little bit to stay in contention, she was there for me. Like I say, she just really makes my job easier.”

Alvarado on outdueling Joy’s Rocket to her inside: “It was a great battle. They both are great fillies and neither of them wanted to lose the race. They were digging down to the wire.”

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Union Rags out of the Smart Strike mare Caramel Snap, Caramel Swirl posted her first stakes victory and improved her record to 9-3-3-1. Saturday’s $150,000 check boosted her bankroll to $317,300.

Jimmy Bell, President and Racing Manager of Godolphin commented: “It was a little tougher than when she won by 10 (lengths) to break her maiden here (in April), that was for sure, but obviously with the step up in company and class – (jockey) Junior (Alvarado) gave her a super ride. She showed true determination and grit and heart down the lane. Made it interesting, but we’re happy to be here in the Winner’s Circle.”

Caramel Swirl returned $8.60, $5.60 and $4.40. Joy’s Rocket, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $19.60 and $10.40 and finished 2 lengths ahead of Cilla, who paid $7.40 to show under Tyler Gaffalione.

“I was pretty much in front of the winner through the whole straight. [Caramel Swirl] got the bob at the wire. My filly ran a big race. She was traveling very good for me and when I got clear in the stretch, she took off. It was an unlucky bob at the end. The fractions were decent. We were traveling pretty easy,” Leparoux remarked.

It was another 4 lengths back to Shalimar Gardens, who was followed in order by Souper Sensational, favored Obligatory, Miss Speedy, Strong Silent, Minute Waltz, Someone Said So and Zainalarab.

“I was actually closer to the pace than I expected. It just didn’t really develop the way I had planned. She was traveling comfortably coming into the stretch. I tried to wait as long as I could, knowing that the 7 furlongs was pushing it for her. She battled gamely for a very respectable third in this race, and I’m happy with the way she came back,” Gaffalione recounted.

“I actually thought (the fractions) would be a little quicker. It seemed like there would be a little more speed on form, but it just didn’t develop.” 

Godolphin is the 22nd recipient of the Keeneland Tray, part of the track’s signature Milestone Trophy Program. The first Keeneland Tray was awarded to Hasty House Farm during the 1955 Spring Meet.

Jimmy Bell on Godolphin’s earning the Keeneland Tray in recognition of the operation’s eighth graded stakes win at Keeneland and receiving the Tray from his son, Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell: “Everything about it is special. Keeneland is special. Obviously, Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin are very, very special, and seeing Gatewood over here, it’s very, very, very special. I’m kind of at a loss for words. But happy also that so many of our folks from the farm could be over here that have such a hand in raising these horses. This being another homebred, it’s just very special for the operation. Just very happy to be on the receiving end of things. Very appreciative.”

He’smyhoneybadger with Florent Geroux up wins the 2021 Perryville for trainer Brad Cox and owner Steve Landers Racing. (Keeneland Photo)

In the Perryville, He’smyhoneybadger rallied from seventh in the nine-horse field to collar favored Pipeline at the sixteenth pole and hold off Ram.

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, He’smyhoneybadger covered the 7 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:23.75 to eclipse the stakes record for 7 furlongs of 1:24.38 established by Midnight Lute in 2006.

Boca Boy and Cool Quest dueled for the early lead through fractions of :22.16 and :44.97 with Pipeline tracking in third and He’smyhoneybadger running seventh.

In the stretch, Pipeline took over at the eighth pole but He’smyhoneybadger, who had swung four wide at the top of the stretch, found clear running to surge to the front at the sixteenth pole and then deny Ram’s final surge.

“I didn’t do that much different (from his last race), to be honest. I just wanted to have the horse feel comfortable in a nice rhythm. It looked like he ran a nice race last time at Churchill off the pace when he placed second, so that was kind of the same idea today, to be behind the speed,” explained Geroux. 

“This horse is not really quick early on, so we just found a nice rhythm, got the speed in the turn, and he showed a lot of grit and determination down the lane. I’m very proud of him. (Trainer) Brad Cox and his team did a great job getting him ready today.”

On whether he sensed Ram, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, coming on his outside: “Oh, yeah, I saw it was very close, almost maybe too close for my comfort zone, but my horse was able to hold on. Very proud of the horse.”

He’smyhoneybadger is a Kentucky-bred son of Daredevil out of the Majestic Warrior mare Majestic Miss. With his first stakes victory, He’smyhoneybadger added $90,000 to his bankroll to increase his earnings to $321,824 with a record of 10-4-3-1.

He’smyhoneybadger returned $14.60, $6.40 and $3.60. Ram, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, returned $16.60 and $6 and finished a neck in front of Pipeline who paid $3 to show under John Velazquez.

“My horse had a beautiful trip. He comes from behind. This time we tried to stay a little bit closer, but his style is to relax and just make one run. He showed me a better kick this time, and he came flying at the end. I just wanted to get him in the clear and he kept running and for a moment I thought I won the race, but the four (He’smyhoneybadger) was trying so hard,” commented Bejarano.

“We got a little further back but that’s the horse’s style. We really thought he might have won it. Usually the outside horse gets the nod at the wire. I think his best distance is 7 furlongs to a mile, so we will try to find something at Churchill. I’m just bold enough to think about the Clark Handicap (G1),” said D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Ram.

It was another 3¾ lengths back to Irish Unity in fourth with Pickin’ Time, Cool Quest, Runway Magic, Boca Boy and Soup and Sandwich following in order.

John Velazquez, rider of beaten favorite and third-place finisher Pipeline remarked: “We broke well and I got a good position. I held my position there and when I let him go he gave me a quick spurt, but let up around the sixteenths pole. At the quarter pole I thought he was going to (win) because I hadn’t asked him yet and he gave me a good sixteenth of a mile, but the last sixteenth was a little flat.”

Racing continues Sunday with a nine-race program beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The feature is the $150,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) for fillies and mares going 1½ miles on the turf. The Rood & Riddle Dowager is the seventh race with a 4:12 p.m. post time.

The Pick 6 carryover is $41,013.80.

For info on the Best Breeders’ Cup Seminar click HERE.

Keeneland Press Release

Photo: 2021 Lexus Raven Run for trainer Bill Mott and owner Godolphin LLC. (Keeneland Photo)

Very well done piece by The King, John Stettin…

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