LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Trainer Ken McPeek won the $150,000 Jessamine Stakes for the second straight year when Kathmanblu, ridden by Julien Leparoux, proved clearly best Thursday at Keeneland in the 20th running of the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies.
Kathmanblu, owned by Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables, earned her way into the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by rallying from ninth to post a four-length triumph in the Jessamine, part of the BC's Win and Your In. program.
"I had kind of a wide trip, but she still won easy," said Leparoux.
Kathmanblu returned $6.60 as favorite in a field of 11 after finishing in 1:44.01 over a firm course.
As a group of front-runners tired leaving the final turn, Lauren Byrd was among the chasers who went to challenge for the lead, but she was no match for the outside surge of Kathmanblu, a Bluegrass Cat filly who won for the second time in four career starts. Lauren Byrd was second, another 2 1/4 lengths before Cloneylass.
"We've been fortunate enough to get another nice group of young horses," said McPeek. "We really focus on getting them to go long. This filly showed she can handle it."
McPeek won the Jessamine last year with House of Grace and in 2003 with Galloping Gal.
An ontrack crowd of 8,944 turned out on a sunny and seasonal afternoon.