Madame Cactus pulls ahead to win 2013 Lexus Raven Run Stakes. (Keeneland Photo)
A few days ago it looked like Madame Cactus would not be competing in the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes, but on Saturday she capitalized on an opportunity in the race with a powerful late rally to victory at Keeneland Race Course.
When entries were drawn for the Raven Run on Wednesday, Madame Cactus was on the outside looking in as one of two 3-year-old fillies on the also-eligible list. With 16 fillies entered for 14 starting spots, Madame Cactus needed two horses to withdraw from the race to get her chance to run.
Opportunity knocked for Madame Cactus with the defections of Lighthouse Bay and Plenty O’Toole, and she took care of the rest with an explosive late surge for her first-career graded stakes win for trainer Peter Eurton.
“It’s been a fun week. Coming in on Tuesday, knowing about 9 o’clock in the morning when I’m getting on a plane that we’re possibly not gonna get in the race and she’s already there,” Eurton said. “The racing secretary said there’s a good chance we might get a scratch or two, and thank God we did.”
Ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., Madame Cactus dropped back to 10th of 14 through the first quarter of a mile. She moved up to seventh entering the turn and charged into the stretch with a sweeping bid. Madame Cactus inhaled six opponents in the final furlong, including runner-up Eden Prairie in the closing strides, to win the Raven Run by a neck.
Rocco initially was booked to ride Lighthouse Bay. He was thrilled to get another chance aboard Madame Cactus when Lighthouse Bay was scratched from the race.
MADAME CACTUS WINS RAVEN RUN UNDER JOE ROCCO JR.
“I’m just really thankful they gave me a chance on her when my horse scratched and they drew into the race. I’m very appreciative of it,” he said. “On the turn, I thought we were in big trouble. Once we got to the stretch and I realized I didn’t lose that much momentum being swung that wide, I wasn’t that far off the leaders. I thought we still might have a chance.
“She’s got a real good kick that last eighth.”
Madame Cactus won two of four starts at two, including a stakes race at Delta Downs. Her only other race in 2013 was a runner-up finish in the C.E.R.F. Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 4, which was her first start in 9 ½ months. Ironically, she finished second to 2012 Raven Run winner Gypsy Robin in the C.E.R.F. Stakes.
“She’s a filly with a lot of talent,” said Eurton, who trains the Cactus Ridge filly for Marc and Vinka Ferrell. “Unfortunately, she got injured last year. She’s always been somewhat special.”
For an Equibase chart, click here.