by Esther Marr
The stories behind Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winners Rosalind and Room Service, the first horses in Keeneland history to dead heat in a grade I race, are worthy of sharing as both fillies go forward toward possible starts in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Rosalind, who trainer Ken McPeek said emerged from the race in good shape, is one of just 10 horses owned by Ray Struder's Landaluce Educe Stables.
Rosalind - Photo by Mathea Kelley - Order This Photo
Struder named his stable after the great Landaluce, champion 2-year-old filly of 1982 who died of a bacterial infection the morning she was due to contend in that year's Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I). Studer, who was captivated by Landaluce's racing efforts when he was just a fan, explained his stable name is Latin for "Landaluce remembered."
The Ashland marked the first grade I victory for the owner, who has a grand plan of buying and racing only fillies, then retiring his best runners to become broodmares. He has already started building a small band at Mulholland Farm near Lexington. Click here to read more about Studer.
"It's a great day," said Struder, who is wheelchair-bound due to a high school football injury and started his Thoroughbred racing stable with capital from an engineering firm he owned in Tennessee. "I give thanks to God for all things. Rosalind is a great horse and I give all the credit to Kenny McPeek. He helped pick her out.
"Kenny has worked with her and she's come along," added Studer of Rosalind, who was third by just a half length in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and also placed in the Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) and Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II). "Today was her day. She's had rough days, she's had close days. That's horse racing. One inch either way could have changed everything."
Studer, who also owns 2012 Virginia Oaks (gr. III) winner Volcat, reiterated his strong partnership with McPeek, who selects his horses at auction as yearlings.
"I've always wanted to be in horse racing and (McPeek) helped me do it," Studer said. "I can't say enough good things about him."
McPeek said Rosalind would remain at Keeneland for a couple weeks before going to Louisville. The filly is also under consideration for the June 6 Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I).
"We've early nominated her for the English Oaks, which is a little bit different, but I've got the ground to do it with over at my farm and I think we have a chance; it's an interesting double," said McPeek, who has a European-style turf gallop at his Magdalena Farm near Lexington.
Unlike Studer, Gary and Mary West are industry veterans and have been represented with numerous graded stakes winners over the years besides Room Service, including 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner New Year's Day.
Room Service's Ashland victory is especially sweet for the couple however, considering they also bred the filly and own her stakes-winning dam, Dream Lady, who has produced additional stakes winners Major Gain and Oscar Party.
"We bought her because we liked her as a race filly and we just got lucky on the breeding side of it now," said West of Dream Lady, who he purchased for $170,000 through Ben Glass, agent, at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Room Service will also remain at Keeneland for a period of time before traveling to Churchill to prepare for the Oaks. West said he will only enter her in the race if she trains well over the dirt track, a surface she has never before tried.
Room Service - Photo by Mathea Kelley - Order This Photo
The filly came into the Ashland off a two-length score in the March 2 Herecomesthebride (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park.
"That's when she started really putting everything together," said West of the Herecomesthebride. "She had an 89 Beyer, which is the highest of any 3-year-old filly on grass this entire year. So we knew she had some ability, and this was the race that came up at the right time, so we thought we'd give her a shot. This was a very prestigious race, and Keeneland is one of my favorite tracks. So we gave it a shot and it turned out well. To raise one and win a grade I (at Keeneland)...it doesn't get any better than that."
The Ashland is the fifth stakes in recent Keeneland history to result in a dead heat for the win.
Following is a list of other stakes that resulted in a dead heat at the Lexington track:
Year, Race name, Horses
2001, Valley View (gr. IIIT), Chausson Poire and Cozzy Corner
1997, Beaumont (gr. II), Make Haste and Screamer
1992 Ben Ali (gr. III), Loach and Profit Key
1983 Fayette (gr. III), Cad and Frost King
The Blood-Horse has put together a wonderful highlight video from Keeneland's opening weekend.