'Swirl' the Girl in Raven Run

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Caramel Swirl | Coady Photo

Caramel Swirl got just the better of an enervating final-furlong tussle in Saturday's GII Lexus Raven Run S. at Keeneland, dropping her nose down on the line just ahead of the over-achieving Joy's Rocket to earn her first stakes and graded stakes victory. The 33-10 second betting choice behind her Bill Mott stablemate Obligatory (Curlin), Caramel Swirl settled just behind midfield and raced three off the inside beneath Junior Alvarado before committing to a wide run around the turn. In hand approaching the quarter pole, she was angled six deep into the lane, hooked up with Joy's Rocket a furlong from home and was the recipient of a very fortuitous bob in. Cilla, lightly regarded despite her last-out score in the GII Prioress S., attended the pace from between rivals, was headed by the rallying duo at the furlong grounds and kept on gamely to be third. Obligatory, the 5-2 chalk, never landed a serious blow.

“She is just very honest. She's a very classy filly. She does everything you need to do in the race,” Alvarado said of the winner. “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. 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.”

Second in her first three outings, including behind future superstar Malathaat (Curlin), Caramel Swirl signaled her affinity for this very track and trip with a fifth-out 10 1/4-length romp in April. She could only manage seventh behind Obligatory in the GII Eight Belles S. on the GI Kentucky Oaks undercard Apr. 30, but reemerged at Saratoga in July for a sharp first-level allowance victory that earned her a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. She was looking to bounce back off a fourth-place finish at 7-10 in the two-turn, seven-panel GIII Charles Town Oaks Aug. 27.

“It was a little tougher than when she won by 10 to break her maiden here (in April), that was for sure, but obviously with the step up in company and class–Junior gave her a super ride,” said Godolphin President and Racing Manager Jimmy Bell. “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.”

The Godolphin team was presented with a tray by Keeneland to commemorate its eighth graded stakes win at the Lexington oval. Bell, who it was recently announced will be retiring at the end of the year, was handed the tray by his son Gatewood, Keeneland's Vice President of Racing.

“Everything about it is special,” Bell said. “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.”

Saturday, Keeneland
LEXUS RAVEN RUN S.-GII, $250,000, Keeneland, 10-23, 3yo, f, 7f, 1:23.42, ft.
1–CARAMEL SWIRL, 118, f, 3, by Union Rags
               1st Dam: Caramel Snap, by Smart Strike
               2nd Dam: Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister
               3rd Dam: Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN.
O/B-Godolphin, LLC (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Junior
Alvarado. $150,000. Lifetime Record: 9-3-3-1, $317,300.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++. Click for the eNicks report &
5-cross pedigree.
2–Joy's Rocket, 118, f, 3, Anthony's Cross–Queenie's Pride,
by Special Rate. ($47,000 2yo '20 OBSMAR). O-Team Hanley
& Parkland Thoroughbreds; B-Weston Thoroughbreds
Training & Sales (FL); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $50,000.
3–Cilla, 120, f, 3, California Chrome–Sittin At the Bar, by Into
Mischief. ($120,000 RNA Ylg '19 KEEJAN). O-P. Dale Ladner;
B-Brett A. Brinkman & P. Dale Ladner (LA); T-Brett A.
Brinkman. $25,000.
Margins: HD, 2, 4. Odds: 3.30, 24.00, 10.30.
Also Ran: Shalimar Gardens, Souper Sensational, Obligatory, Miss Speedy, Strong Silent, Minute Waltz, Someone Said So, Zainalarab. Scratched: Feeling Mischief, Just Read It.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

Pedigree Notes:
Caramel Swirl is the 21st stakes winner and 11th graded winner for Union Rags, who has been potent when matched with Smart Strike mares, producing the likes of GISW juvenile Union Strike and GSW/MGISP Spielberg. He is the dam sire of 136 stakes winners, 52 graded, overall. Dam Caramel Swirl is out of GSW Fast Cookie, making her a half to the brilliant fellow Godolphin runner and now sire Frosted (Tapit) as well as GSW Indulgent (Bernardini). Another Godolpin stallion, champion 2-year-old Midshipman (Unbridled's Song), is under her third dam.

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