Rusty Arnold never doubted Concrete Rose’s ability. He did worry about the opportunity to showcase the 2-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy at her home track.
Armed with that bit of uncertainty heading into Keeneland Race Course’s FallStars Weekend that highlights the first three days of the autumn meeting, Arnold entered Concrete Rose against the boys for last Sunday’s Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes. The Grade 2 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine, run Wednesday at the same 1 1/16-mile trip on the turf as the Bourbon, attracted 51 nominations and more than 20 2-year-old fillies at entry time.
The conditions of the Jessamine took preference over fillies that finished first, second or third in graded stakes, stakes winners and finally condition eligibility. Concrete Rose, a winner of her only start at Saratoga Aug. 20, made it into the body of the 14-horse field and Arnold skipped the Bourbon.
“There were like eight (also-eligibles) for four spots,” Arnold said. “I was concerned so I nominated to the colt race. I would have run her against colts the other day had we not gotten in.”
Concrete Rose got in and ran out to a 3-length victory to lock up a spot in next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs. Concrete Rose, owned by Bo Bromagen’s Ashbrook Farm and Braxton Jones Lynch’s BBN Racing, Concrete Rose earned the last automatic berth in the Nov. 2-3 World Championships with the Jessamine the 85th Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win And You’re In” race.
Concrete Rose raced just behind early leaders City Diva and Monkeys Uncle early, angled about four paths off the rail under Jose Lezcano into the lane and put away the front runners inside the eighth pole with complete authority. Pakhet made a sustained run from seventh to finish second, a neck in front of Bella Laura in third with 2-1 favorite Fierce Scarlett fourth in the field of 13.
Concrete Rose’s run in the Jessamine marked a significant improvement from her maiden win, a 1 3/4-length score under Lezcano going 5 ½ furlongs on the grass at Saratoga.
“She didn’t leave the gate, then settled pretty good and looked like was going to make a good run, maybe be third and she kicked into a new gear, flew home, galloped out big,” Arnold said of that debut win at 12-1. “We were really concerned the sprint was too short. Everybody asked, ‘are you worried about her stretching out (in the Jessamine)?’ Her pedigree wants her to stretch out. I was more relaxed today than I was for the sprint race.
“She ran green, ducked in and didn’t get to her lead right (in her debut). Today was the complete opposite. She was a pro today. Those horses broke out of the gate, let them out-foot her, she laid in behind them and did everything right. We were really confident in her ability. We were a little worried about experience. One race. That’s what we were worried about.”
Concrete Rose heads down I-64 next to Louisville for the Nov. 2 Juvenile Fillies Turf. Rushing Fall, the favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland, used nearly the same preps on her path to victory in last year’s Juvenile Fillies Turf.