Heading to post for the Keeneland 7th on October 5th, dreams of lilies danced in everyone’s heads. Nine two-year-old fillies entered the starting gate, facing a mile and a sixteenth test over the dirt. Anyone who did well in that race could start to think about stakes glory. Hopefaithjoy won by daylight, and returned to finish fourth in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill. Birdatthewire finished second, but has blossomed through the winter. She won the Forward Gal (GII) at Gulfstream, and followed that up with a second-place finish in the Davona Dale (GII). Third-place Loom had already finished fourth in the Pocahontas.
Crossing the wire 21 3/4 lengths behind Hopefaithjoy that day was the only first-time starter in the race: Sound Studio (Brilliancy, by Exchange Rate). This chestnut daughter of Curlin looked dainty in the paddock. Unfortunately, being pretty does not win her the race. She broke slowly, never got involved, and only passed one tiring horse. She returned in the claiming ranks next out, and hit the board once in her next four starts. Her best race before today was that third place finish, a late-running third in a seven-furlong race against $15,000-$12,500 last November at Churchill. After a last-place finish at Fair Grounds in December, she was privately transferred from the barn to Neil Howard to trainer Mark Salvaggio. She finished a trailing sixth at Penn National in her first start in her new barn, facing $10,000-$9,000 maidens. Today she notched back up to $12,500 maiden company, three year old fillies, going a one-turn mile through the Laurel mud.
The mud at Laurel agreed with Sound Studio.
As she had in so many of her previous maiden attempts, Sound Studio was slow early. She looked a little reluctant to get going; when she did, she settled near the back of the seven-horse field. About ten lengths off the pace early, she began a run down the rail as the field approached the turn.
The entire field swung outside on the turn for home except for Sound Studio. Rider Tyler Conner kept Sound Studio firmly inside, saving all the ground. Both My Little Dipper and Patsy’s Princess tried to keep on, and they made a race of it from the centre of the track. Sound Studio was drifting out a bit by then, but would not let them spoil her party. She found her next gear in the final sixteenth, and finished a length in front of My Little Dipper.
Will Sound Studio end up wearing the lilies this May after a win in a $12,500 maiden claiming race at Laurel? Of course not, but that is irrelevant. Today’s race is still good news. Sound Studio put together the best race of her still-young career for her new trainer and rider, and proved that she was a closer who had it in her to get her nose on the wire first. She will hopefully continue in company she finds competitive…and who doesn’t love watching a late-running horse at any level?
Congratulations, Sound Studio!