Keeneland September Grad Proud Emma Scores in G3 Bayakoa S.

Gem and Tom Kagele’s Proud Emma turned in a late rally just in time Dec. 6 to bring home a half-length victory and her first graded stakes win in the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, Proud Emma is out of the Proud Citizen mare Debutante Dreamer. The daughter of Include  was purchased as a yearling from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale by Philip Sims for $9,000 from the consignment of South Point Sales Agency.

Making her fifth start of 2020 and her first start at Los Alamitos, 4-year-old Proud Emma, who drew the outside post 6, broke in the middle of the pack and settled just off the pace in fifth. Miss Stormy D led the field through an opening quarter-mile in :23.58 but was slowly overtaken by Stellar Sound, who, despite breaking last, made a four-wide move on the first turn and dove for the lead along the backstretch. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Stellar Sound had a two-length lead as the half-mile was clocked in :46.76.

Stellar Sound kept control exiting the backstretch and into the final turn but was pressed by jockey Flavien Prat and his filly Message to her outside. As six furlongs went in 1:11.09, Message cut Stellar Sound’s lead to a half-length.
Rounding the turn for home, Proud Emma and jockey Juan Hernandez made their own four-wide move and were within a half-length of new leader Message at the top of the stretch. The fillies settled down for a drive to the wire, briefly bumping with each other at the eighth pole.

With Proud Emma to her outside, Message fought to hold off her rival. Not to be denied, Proud Emma dug in and and wore down her rival in the final strides. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track was 1:42.40.
“(Trainer) Peter (Miller) told me to just sit behind the speed and she’d give me a strong run,” Hernandez said. “She relaxed perfectly, then really responded when I asked her to get by (Message).”

Message finished second, followed by Stellar Sound, Miss Stormy D, Blue Diva, and Donut Girl to complete the order.

“She ran great,” Kagele said. “We’ve been trying to get a graded stakes with her, and she finally did it for us today. She likes to sit off it, and it set up very nicely for her. We were confident she would come running. She shows up every time, but this was awesome. The plan is to keep her in training in 2021.”

The Bayakoa was the second win of the year for Proud Emma, who took the Tranquility Lake Stakes Aug. 28 at Del Mar. The chestnut filly has a 6-2-0 record from 16 starts with $304,658 in earnings.

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