FRANKLIN, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 11, 2022) — It was a battle to the wire between 3-5 favorite Campanelle and 13-1 shot Bay Storm in the $1 million The Mint Ladies Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs, but at the finish the champion Irish-bred filly prevailed by just a scant nose on Saturday at the track in Franklin, Ky.
Coming down the stretch in the 6 1/2-furlong test for fillies and mares age 3 and up, Campanelle found her stride coming from the middle of the pack in the field of 12 with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., as early leader Creative Credit gave way.
With Campanelle swinging four-wide in the stretch, Bay Storm and Tyler Gaffalione came charging hard inside of the eventual winner. With whiskers splitting the pair of 4-year-old fillies at the end, it was Campanelle finishing on top. It was another three lengths before She Can’t Sing crossed the wire.
“I love her,” Ortiz said. “She’s the most kind, fun to ride. She’s crazy good.”
And good she was, in collecting her second win in three starts this year, with this being her first start since her return from testing the Royal Ascot waters in the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes, where she finished third.
“She made the lead a little earlier today,” said Ortiz. “I hit her a couple of times. She responded so I put the stick away, keeping busy on her. Maybe she got confused a little. But she saw that filly and fought back.”
“When Irad ran by me, I thought he was just going to open up,” said Gaffalione. “But his filly made the lead and started to wait a little bit. My filly kept digging in and kept trying. She put in a big effort today. I am thrilled with my filly’s effort today.”
Campanelle finished in 1:14.57, on fractions of :21.55, :44.73 and 1:08.33. Campanelle paid $3.56, $2.98 and $2.56, with Bay Storm returning $8.14 and $6.44. She Can’t Sing, with Jareth Loveberry aboard, paid $8.38.
Completing the order of finish: Brooke Marie, Jouster, Star Devine, In Good Spirits, Creative Credit, Candace O, Violenza, Elle Z and Tobys Heart.
“She’s such a champion filly, and I was so confident going in,” Ward said of Campanelle, “especially because you’re 3-5. And she’s such a wonderful filly to be around. I needed to take a sip of (wife) Barbara’s wine after the finish.”
“She is a fighter,” said Campanelle’s owner, Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables. “She’s super fast, and she is not going to let anyone get by her if she can help it. He (Ortiz) cut it a little close, but she’s really good.”
Because she was not bred in Kentucky, the Irish-bred Campanelle was not eligible to collect any of the $450,000 added by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. The value of the race was $736,030, with the winner taking a $317,130 share.
Next up is likely to be the Breeders’ Cup against males at Keeneland in Lexington, which is where Ward is based.
“We’re going next to the Breeders’ Cup, if she comes out of this race OK,” he said. “She’s going to train up to the race, and Keeneland is her home base.”
Said Banke: “I’m not sure where we’re going to put her exactly but she could” go in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), possibly taking on stablemate Golden Pal, the defending champion. “My money’s on her,” she said with a laugh.
Ward did pause to reflect on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of England this past week at 96. He has become something of a regular participant in the Royal Ascot meet, which brought him into close proximity with the queen a number of times.
“I feel so blessed to have been able to be in her presence at Royal Ascot and watch the races for five times with her,” Ward said. “It’s something that I’ll treasure forever, and my family will remember forever. She was a wonderful woman, and she always made you feel comfortable. At first, you feel funny when you realize you’re with the Queen of England, but she was so warm and caring, that you just feel so comfortable.”