About a quarter after three on Friday afternoon, Keeker loaded into the Arlington gate. Five others did as well, but most eyes were on her. The four-year-old filly had won her first three starts during the Arlington meet, steadily climbing up the claiming ranks. The set she faced Friday was a bit tougher yet, starter-optional company. But, Keeker’s 7/5 odds showed that the public believed she would become the first four-time winner during this Arlington meet.
Leisurely Renny shot to the front, but Keeker pressured her. Closest in touch among the rest was an eight-year-old grey, A Shot Away, who tracked the pace from a couple of lengths off. Into the turn Keeker started to press the pace a bit harder, but Leisurely Renny got away again. She had opened up daylight by the furlong pole, but the 21.65 opening quarter was catching up with her. The lead dwindled in the final sixteenth, and it looked like Keeker might become the first runner to four wins this meet at Arlington.
The old grey mare had different ideas.
In third for so much of the race, A Shot Away got into gear down the stretch. She gained ground on Keeker’s outside, advancing right along her flank. Keeker briefly struck the front, well inside the sixteenth pole, but A Shot Away had her measure. If you blinked, you missed the moment Keeker’s head was in front. A Shot Away quickly took the lead, and crossed the wire a neck in front.
It may have been her first victory this Arlington meet, but A Shot Away (Posse – A Kiss Away, by Cozzene) has been winning races since before Keeker, third-place Leisurely Renny, and even fourth-place Rum Therapy had been foaled. She broke her maiden on June 3, 2010, at fourth asking. Since then, she has been one of the most consistent runners on the Chicago circuit. A Shot Away has run 68 times; all but five of those starts have been at either Arlington or Hawthorne. She has won 12 times, and hit the board another 35 times.
In eleven different barns over the course of her career, she currently runs for trainer Manny Perez. She remains in solid form for him this year, with two wins and a second in five starts. In addition to Friday, she also won a turf dash allowance at Hawthorne on Illinois Derby day (April 18), her first race back from the winter.
A Shot Away specializes in six-furlong races, but can cut down to five and a half or stretch out to six and a half and still run her race. That held true at age three; it remains the case at eight. It does not matter if A Shot Away goes on synthetic, dirt, or turf. She runs.
For her winning rally against an in-form Keeker, as well as the consistency and durability she has shown throughout her 68-race career, this week’s spotlight shines on A Shot Away.