A solid performance in the $200,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies Oct. 17 at Keeneland earned Venetian Harbor a trip to the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) back at the Lexington track.
The Richard Baltas-trained daughter of Munnings set an uncontested pace and had enough left to hold off a late bid from Finite by a neck in the seven-furlong affair.
Running for Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, River Oak Farm, and Domenic Savides, Venetian Harbor was left alone on the lead after the break and set opening fractions of :23.06 and :46.17 under Manny Franco, with Reagan's Edge and Grand Cru Classe in close pursuit. Reagan's Edge posed a brief threat as the field turned for home, but Venetian Harbor had more to give and kicked clear down the lane.
Finite rallied from the back of the pack and shifted toward the rail midstretch as she gained ground on the leader, but she could not reach Venetian Harbor by the wire.
"I was a little bit concerned about (Four Graces), and when I saw she didn't break (in front), I decided to go then," Franco said. "She's happy when she's on the lead. She showed it today. She's a nice filly."
The final time on a fast main track was 1:23.03.
Venetian Harbor, sent off as the favorite in the field of eight, paid $5.20. Reagan's Edge finished another nose back in fourth and was followed by Tonalist's Shape, Secondary Market, Four Graces, and Secret Keeper.
A graduate of the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was purchased for $110,000 from Ashview Farm's consignment by Jesse Hoppel, agent, Venetian Harbor was bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables out of the Street Cry mare Sounds of the City. The mare produced an Oscar Performance colt this year.
Venetian Harbor came into the Raven Run off a runner-up finish to Gamine in the Aug. 8 Longines Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. She was second to Speech in the July 11 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and the runner-up to Swiss Skydiver in the May 1 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
"Our intention was to go to the Breeders' Cup, but we felt this would be a good opportunity to get a race in her," co-owner Joseph Ciaglia said. "I couldn't be any happier today.
"She's great out of the gate. She's tenacious, and that's what you need to win some races. Gotta be quick out of the gate. Manny did a great job getting out of the gate, and that was the key to the win."
The victory increased Venetian Harbor's earnings to $503,400 with three wins and four seconds from seven starts and was her second graded score. She also won the Feb. 8 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.