Spring in the Air rallied from far back to win the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) to give freshman sire Spring at Last his first Grade 1 winner and earned the 2-year-old a spot in the $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
WinStar Farm's Spring at Last is America's leading first-crop sire, with $774,072 in progeny earnings. Fifty percent of his maiden winners have come back to win again, the best percentage of any top 10 freshman sire. He is also the only first year sire with more than one stakes winner.
Spring in the Air had post nine in the field of 14, and jockey Patrick Husbands decided to take back after breaking a step slow going into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile contest. He settled in tenth, well off the rail, for the first half-mile. Spring in the Air began to make up ground going into the far turn, only to be steadied three-eighths from the wire. Still wide coming into the stretch, the bay filly took off and hit the front inside the final furlong to win by a widening length in 1:44.33.
“She’s just pure class,” said winning trainer Mark Casse. “A lot of the other fillies were getting upset in the paddock but it didn’t bother her at all. Patrick has ridden almost 1,000 winners for me. He had a ton of confidence in her and rode her like he did. It took that (confidence) to let her drop back that far and then make a run.
“I went to Patrick before the race and said, ‘What do you think,’ and he said, ‘It’s just a matter of how far.’ He rode her confidently -- scared the hell out of me.”
“I had a good trip,” said Husbands. “I went into the race just to follow (jockey Ramon) Dominguez because I figured his horse (Tara From the Cape) would probably take me halfway down the lane. When I reached the quarter pole, he had no horse so I had to get from behind him and get to the lead. From there she was a class filly.”
The feature race on Friday's opening day of the Keeneland fall meet, the Alcibiades victory was worth $240,000 and increased Spring in the Air’s bankroll to $371,519, with a record of 4-2-2-0. Bred by WinStar Farm, Spring in the Air is owned by John Oxley; she was a $130,000 purchase at the 2012 OBS March 2-year-old sale by Casse as agent for Oxley.