A thrilling stretch-long duel between Rosalind and Room Service resulted in the two game fillies hitting the wire together in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland at Keeneland.
The duo will now share in the points awarded by the race for a spot in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate, with each receiving half of the 140 total given to the first- and second-place finishers.
Rosalind, a fast-closing third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, boasted eight points prior to Saturday but is now practically assured a starting berth. Room Service had not competed in a points race in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prior to the Ashland and exits the race with 70 to her credit.
Both fillies bided their time in the rear of Saturday's 13-strong field as Istanford battled it out with Resistivity through opening fractions of :22 4/5 and :45 4/5. The latter filly had taken command through three-quarters in 1:10 4/5, but faded as Rosalind and Room Service suddenly loomed wide on the outside.
Those two were set down and refused to yield, hitting the wire seven lengths in front of third-placer Thank You Marylou while finishing 1 1/16 miles over Keeneland's Polytrack in 1:43 1/5.
Rosalind, who was ridden by Joel Rosario for trainer Kenny McPeek, paid $5 for the win as the 7-2 second choice.
"I thought it was a dead-heat or that we won," McPeek stated. "I said (while waiting for photo) that if it was a dead heat, I was good with it because (it is so important) to get a Grade 1 win for a filly.
"She is terrible about going to the (starting) gate and has been that way for her last four or five starts so I was really concerned about it. I don't know why -- she does everything else perfect. But for whatever reason she gets fired up going to the gate."
McPeek added that the Kentucky Oaks isn't the only race he has on the radar for Rosalind.
"The Kentucky Oaks and the (Group 1) English Oaks (Epsom Oaks on June 6) are under consideration," he said.
"She could feel the other horse coming and she kept on fighting and kept on going," Rosario explained. "For a second I thought I'd maybe get there but the other horse was coming with a strong finish. It was a long wait. It was very close. I knew (Room Service) was on the outside coming at the wire. It was an exciting race."
Room Service, piloted to victory by Shaun Bridgmohan for conditioner Wayne Catalano, gave back $6.60 as the 6-1 fourth pick in the wagering.
"I thought I got nosed out. From the angle I had, I thought it was very, very close and it looked like I got nosed out," Catalano said. "But when it took that long (to determine the winner) I said, 'OK, I'll settle for a dead-heat now.'
"She has matured and she is learning her job. I was very excited about the way she has settled down and learned how to do things instead of being young and excited.
"I will talk to the owners," he added when asked if Room Service would now go in the Kentucky Oaks. "They like to run in these big races. That's what we are all in the game for."
"I just took my time on her. It seemed like there was a lot of speed in there and I just picked her up as she went along and she was very willing. She ran well," Bridgmohan remarked, before adding, "That was a long wait going in circles. I thought both fillies ran hard. Both had their nose down at the wire trying like hell the whole way. They ran a very good race."
Testa Rossi, the 8-5 favorite off an easy win in the grassy Florida Oaks, was 1 1/2 lengths behind Thank You Marylou in fourth, who is being pointed for the Kentucky Oaks by trainer Mike Maker.
"She ran super," the conditioner praised. "She didn't have much room turning for home, but when (jockey) Julien (Leparoux) got her through she came running. This was just her second start of the year and her first around two turns, so to get third in a Grade 1 is great.
"We'll go to the Kentucky Oaks. (With 20 points for third) she should get in."
Completing the order under the line were Saturday Bliss, Miss Besilu, On the Backstreets, Candy Kitty, Seeking Her Glory, Resistivity, Istanford, Macaroon and Ireland.
Both Rosalind and Room Service entered the Ashland with prior stakes credentials. In addition to her half-length third in last November's Juvenile Fillies, Rosalind also finished third in the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs in September and was runner-up in the Alcibiades at Keeneland once month later. The Broken Vow miss closed out her juvenile finale with a fourth-placing in the December 7 Hollywood Starlet and opened 2014 with a third against optional claiming rivals in late February at Gulfstream Park.
Now 2-1-3 from seven starts, Rosalind has banked $558,036 in her career.
Room Service entered the Ashland having competed exclusively on turf thus far. The bay daughter of More Than Ready broke her maiden in her debut at Kentucky Downs last September and followed with a pair of placings against allowance company in her next two at Churchill and Gulfstream. Campaigned by breeders Gary and Mary West, she made her stakes bow a rallying third in the January 26 Sweetest Chant and captured the Herecomesthebride on March 2.
Room Service saw her earnings jump to $336,565 thanks to the Ashland and improved her record to read 6-3-1-2.
Bred in Kentucky by Hurstland Farm Inc., James H. Greene Jr. and Pin Oak Stud LLC, Rosalind was purchased by her current connections Landaluce Educe Stables for $70,000 as a Fasig-Tipton July yearling. The chestnut filly is out of the winning Theatrical mare Critics Acclaim, making her a half-sister to stakes runner-up American Diva. Critics Acclaim is a half-sister to stakes second Doc's Destiny, who is herself the dam of 2011 Alcibiades runner-up Heart of Destiny and Grade 2-placed Brother Bobby.
Rosalind's third dam produced multiple Grade 1 hero Life's Hope and is the ancestress of multiple Australian Group 1 queen A Little Kiss. Farther back this female family is responsible for dual French champion and U.S. champion grass mare Trillion as well as Grade 3 victor Partez, who placed in the 1981 Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky-bred Room Service is a daughter of the multiple Grade 3-placed, stakes-winning Old Trieste mare Dream Lady, who previously foaled Grade 2-placed stakes star Oscar Party and Room Service's full brother, Grade 3 scorer Major Gain. Dream Lady counts as a half-sibling stakes vixen Zeta, who would find fame as the dam of Group 1 winner Zapata.
Room Service's third dam is Grade 3 diva London Lil, who produced Grade 3 heroine Lilly Capote and multiple stakes queen Bubba Dulyah. Lilly Capote is herself the dam of Grade 1 victress Aubby K as well as Grade 2-placed full brothers Flying Pegasus and Mythical Pegasus.