Bonny South Returns To Winning Ways In Doubledogdare, Emerges Best In Three-Horse Photo

Juddmonte Farms homebred Bonny South, winless in four starts since capturing the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March 2020, returned to her winning ways in Friday’s Grade 3 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes for older fillies and mares at Keeneland racecourse in Lexington, Ky.

The Brad Cox-trained daughter of Munnings was kept off the rail by Florent Geroux throughout the 1 1/16-mile stakes, rallying from mid-pack in the field of six and just edging Royal Flag and pacesetter Graceful Princess in a three-horse photo. The margins were a head from first to second, with runner-up Royal Flag defeating Graceful Princess by another head. Eres Tu was fourth, with High Regard fifth. Speech, winner of the G1 Ashland Stakes in 2020, was bet down to 3-2 favoritism but was finished before far turn and eventually eased in her first start since finishing sixth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland.

Bonny South covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.46 and paid $9.40 for the win. Speech, winner of the G1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland for trainer Michael McCarthy, was bet down to 3-2 favoritism

Todd Pletcher-trained Graceful Princess, a 5-year-old Tapit mare searching for her first stakes victory, secured an early lead, outrunning Speech before the first turn and setting fractions of :24.11, :48.02 and 1:12.06 for the first six furlongs. Bonny South raced several lengths behind the front-runner in fourth and began to make her move with three-eighths of a mile remaining. The Munnings 4-year-old ranged up alongside Graceful Princess at the top of the stretch and Royal Flag – who had just one filly beaten in the early going – came to their outside. The three raced as a team to the wire with Bonny South just prevailing after passing the mile marker in 1:37.09.

The victory was the fourth from nine career starts for Bonny South, who chased Speech in the Ashland before runner-up finishes in the G1 Alabama at Saratoga (to Swiss Skydiver) and G2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico (to Miss Marissa). She completed her 2020 campaign with another second-place finish, this time to Envoutante in the G2 Falls City at Churchill Downs.

Post-race quotes:

Florent Geroux (winning rider of Bonnie South)
On the difference today compared to her strong efforts in the past “Just her breaking good and putting me in the race a little bit closer than she has been. Today there wasn’t much pace. The idea with her was to see how she broke and I couldn’t really rush her but at the same token I couldn’t be too far back and try to make a late run. She had a nice trip. When I asked her turning for home, she gave me a nice kick. She was very brave at the end to hold off (runner-up) Royal Flag. She was fighting at the end.”

Brad Cox (winning trainer: “I felt like physically she’d moved forward from (age) 3 to 4. She’s certainly been working that way in the mornings. She had a big work last weekend at Churchill and was kinda touting herself. Florent did a good job realizing there wasn’t a lot of pace. She had a little bit of a wide trip and dug in late. I was very proud of her.”

On what he sees for the remainder of her 2021 campaign: “Hopefully (it’s) one full of Grade 1s – that would be the goal. The (Juddmonte) Spinster (G1 during the Keeneland Fall Meet) would be a race that definitely would be on the radar, having the Juddmonte connections. Hopefully we can get her there and off to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Todd Pletcher (trainer of third-place finisher Graceful Princess): “She ran dynamite off the layoff. She got the trip we were hoping for. She really fought hard and we are very pleased with her effort. (Jockey Luis Saez) said it was a battle and our filly dug down deep but just could not quite get there. The fractions were what we were hoping for. She made the lead the right way. She relaxed nicely.”

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