LEXINGTON, KY – John C. Oxley’s La Coronel went to the front soon after the break and then held off a late bid from Daddys Lil Darling by a half-length to win the 34th running of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) for 3-year-old fillies before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 29,636. The figure marked the second-largest Fall Meet attendance in Keeneland history.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Jose Lezcano, La Coronel covered the 1 1/8 miles on a firm turf course in 1:48.99. It was the first victory in the race for Oxley, Casse and Lezcano and the third stakes victory of the meet for Casse and second with Oxley as they teamed to win last Sunday’s Dixiana Bourbon (G3) with Flameaway.
Lezcano put La Coronel on the lead and quickly assumed a daylight margin with Daddys Lil Darling in closest pursuit. The running order remained unchanged on the front end as La Coronel put up fractions of :23.81, :48.60 and 1:13.47.
At the top of the stretch, La Coronel opened up on the field and had more than enough left to stave off the final surge from Daddys Lil Darling who finished second for the fourth time in a Grade 1 race.
The victory was worth $300,000 and increased La Coronel’s earnings to $754,844 with a record of 12-5-2-0. It was the fourth graded stakes victory for La Coronel and the third in three tries over the Keeneland lawn with previous victories coming in last fall’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) and this spring’s Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association.
La Coronel is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Colonel John out of the Chester House mare Listen. She is an alumnus of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale.
La Coronel returned $12.20, $7 and $4.80. Daddys Lil Darling, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $10.40 and $6.80 with Madam Dancealot (IRE) finishing another 3½ lengths back in third under Jamie Theriot and returning $8.60 to show.