Whether it be her workmates in the mornings or her stuffed bunny rabbit toy that lives in her stall (see photo page 8), Miss Keller (Ire) translated her quirks into a championship. The Irish-bred daughter of Montjeu (Ire) had plenty of strong stretch runs in 2010 to garner her the Sovereign Award for champion female turf horse. She was also second in the voting for Canadian Horse of the Year. “She likes to track horses,” offered her Hall of Fame conditioner Roger Attfield about her approach to training and racing.
“When she gallops in the morning, she won’t go very kindly on her own, but she’ll track.”
Miss Keller was at the top of her game on a mid-September afternoon at Woodbine. The Grade II, $300,000 Canadian Stakes attracted a half dozen starters, with Miss Keller (Ire) going postward the slight 8-5 choice over Latin Love. It was Points of Grace who guided her rivals through an opening quarter-mile in :24.69 and a half in :48.33, while Magic Broomstick kept close tabs on her. After six furlongs, as the field came off the far turn, Latin Love and Garrett Gomez made a strong outside charge to seize control in early stretch. A confident Javiar Castellano, aboard Miss Keller (Ire) had her stalking in fourth, looking for a seam between Points of Grace and Magic Broomstick. When the opportunity presented itself, he wasted no time. At the conclusion of the “about” one mile and one-eighth turf event for fillies and mares, which was part of the Woodbine Mile undercard, Miss Keller (Ire) was a one and three-quarter length winner over Latin Love.
“I’ve been very lucky,” commented Castellano, after the win. “I’m very blessed. I ride a lot of nice horses. She really did relax nicely. My concern was keeping track of somebody else. It was a small field. Not much speed in the race. I tracked in behind. She saw it very well today.”
She usually does.
Miss Keller came into the Canadian off a third to Dynaslew in the Grade II, one mile and one-sixteenth Ballston Spa at Saratoga, closing strongly to miss by one and one-half lengths. Prior to the Ballston Spa, Miss Keller triumphed in the De La Rose Stake at Saratoga, was second at Woodbine in the Grade II Nassau and was third to Phola in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs. Attfield wasn’t overly disappointed with the effort at Churchill. “She got a long way out of it, a bit too far out of it, then she came running very strongly,” said Attfield. “But the speed didn’t come back that much and she had a lot of ground to make up. It was actually a very good race.”
Miss Keller (Ire) managed to have many of them in 2010, finishing the year with three wins, two seconds and two thirds from eight starts. The lone disappointment was a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November, the curtain-closer on her campaign. Tucked in along the hedge to save ground, Miss Keller got through entering the stretch, but bumped with Pulmania (GB) near the furlong marker. She continued to fight, but never seriously threatened. While the result was unfortunate, it did little to diminish Miss Keller’s fine season.
Miss Keller (Ire) went through the auction ring for the Keeneland January sale in 2011 and was sold for $700,000 (U.S.) to Kern/Lillingston Association, agent. She will stay in training with Attfield for the new season.
Miss Keller (Ire)’s dam, Ingozi (GB), is a listed winner in Europe by top miler Warning. She has produced at least 10 other runners including stakes calibre Sir George Turner.