LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Informed Decision's trainer and jockey
thought she had a chance to win the $300,000 Vinery Madison Stakes,
at least until they saw heavy favorite Ventura charge from the
outside to pull ahead in the stretch.
"When Ventura rolled on by, I thought, 'Another day,"' trainer
Jonathan Sheppard said.
Or, maybe not. Sheppard's horse, known for her closing speed,
showed him a completely new gear Thursday during Keeneland's
feature race. Steps away from the finish, she kicked back ahead of
Ventura and pulled the upset by a head.
Rider John Velazquez said he had been ready to take the blame
for the loss, but the horse surprised him too.
"When she passed me, I thought, 'Oh, I guess I waited too
long,"' Velazquez said. "Finally, when she got between horses,
she kicked on. She did it for me because I fell asleep a little too
As the 3-1 second choice, it was hardly a monumental upset, but
Ventura was the 2-5 favorite and defending champion in the field
reduced to six after one horse scratched. She was also trying to
become the first two-time winner in the eight-year history of the
race for fillies and mares 4 years and older, upgraded to Grade I
status for the first time this year.
In last place halfway through, Ventura did close. She just
couldn't hold on.
"She quits," Ventura's jockey Garrett Gomez said. "Her head
goes flat and she just stops. Once she makes the lead, she'll run
about 50 yards and then she loses focus and it's over."
Dubai Majesty set the pace and led by a length and a half
entering the stretch before fading to fourth at the end. Informed
Decision, starting from the rail, passed three horses in the
stretch run, even though Sheppard said he was nervous about her
"We were concerned about being in the rail," he said. "I
think it's OK for her, but I think she's better in the clear."
Informed Decision, owned by George Strawbridge Jr.'s Augustin
Stable, has now won all three career starts on Keeneland's
Polytrack. She was racing for the first time since October when she
won the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in a track record
Informed Decision paid $8.20, $3 and $2.40. Ventura returned
$2.10 and $2.10. Bear Now was $3.40 to show.