Ageless edges Lady Shipman by a head in Franklin County

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 9th, 2015

Friday's $100,000 Franklin County at Keeneland was expected to determine whether Ageless or Lady Shipman was best suited to take on the boys later this month in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) over the same course and 5 1/2-furlong distance. Judging from their respective performances, the answer is arguably "both."

After pressuring Richies Sweetheart through early splits of :21.56 and :44.78, Lady Shipman emerged with a commanding, two-length lead in deep stretch and appeared in good shape to win. However, the three-year-old drifted out a bit late, allowing Ageless to rally inside of her and seize the victory in the final strides by a head under Julien Leparoux. It was three lengths back to 2014 Franklin County winner Free as a a Bird in third.

The 5-2 second choice, Ageless paid $7.60 after completing the trip in a time of1:03.63.

The going was officially firm, but was probably softened a bit by showers earlier in the day. It was undoubtedly moister than the ground Lady Shipman had been running over lately while racking up four straight stakes wins and three triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings in a row. The Franklin County was only the third lifetime defeat in 11 starts for the 3-5 favorite, who remains seemingly one of the fastest turf dashers in the country despite this minor setback.

Ageless, second in last year's Franklin County on much softer ground, made amends for that defeat here as well as a title-defense loss in the $100,000 Giant's Causeway on April 11 in her season debut. She rebounded to take the $100,000 The Very One at Pimlico, was a solid third against males in the Jaipur (G3) at Belmont, and preceded this with a second straight win in the Royal North (G3) at Woodbine.

Arnaud Delacour, who trains Ageless for Lael Stables, said in a post-race interview that he was taking it "on race at a time" with Ageless, but had also said in the days leading up to the Franklin County that he hoped to get the six-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal back to the Turf Sprint. She finished fourth, beaten three parts of a length, behind Bobby's Kitten at Santa Anita last November.

Ageless' status really is race-to-race after reportedly emerging from the Franklin County with a deep cut on her left hock, which necessitated her being vanned back to the barn after the winner's circle ceremony.

(Ageless photo: Keeneland/Coady Photography)