Change of Control wins the Grade 3 Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 15, 2021. Keeneland/Coady Photography.

Change of Control Takes Command in Franklin County Stakes

By Alicia Hughes

Between the downpour of rain and the same colored-saddle towels sported by the contenders in the $150,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, trainer Michelle Lovell was playing a bit of guessing game for most of the 5 ½-furlong test trying to spot her charge Change of Control.

Thankfully for her connections, the daughter of Fed Biz made her form most prominent when it most counted as she surged up on the outside past Ambassador Luna in late stretch to capture a boggy edition of the Franklin County Stakes by 1 ½-lengths on Oct. 15. 

In earning her second career graded stakes victory and eighth win overall from 30 career starts, Change of Control added to what has been a banner year for her conditioner. Prior to this season, Lovell’s only graded winner came when she saddled Fault to victory in the 2017 Pucker Up Stakes (G3). Not only has Change of Control doubled that total, having previously captured the Intercontinental Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on June 3, but she has bolstered what has been a career-best year in earnings for Lovell.

“She’s been so classy and so talented, she gives so much every time we put her in the gate,” Lovell said of Change of Control. “I love her very much, she’s been awesome.”

Owned by Perry Harrison, Change of Control has been a model of consistency in this her 5-year-old season. The only time she has finished worse than third in nine starts in 2021 came when she faced top-level male rivals in the Woodbine Mile (G1) on Sept. 18, coming home tenth.

She proved she could handle soft going when she won the Giant’s Causeway Stakes over yielding ground at Keeneland in April 10, and that attribute proved most handy as the precipitation steadily increased on Friday. With jockey Colby Hernandez in the irons, Change of Control rated fourth as Ambassador Luna drilled the opening quarter-mile in :22.66 and then started rallying two wide around the far turn, taking aim at the pacesetter still holding on with a quarter mile to go. 

“It was a little tough. When we broke out of the gate I looked over and she was a little in front, but you couldn’t see that good out there,” Hernandez said. “But she broke very sharp, I was able to get in a good position and then sit and wait, and when I called on her she finished up strong.”

Stubborn as Ambassador Luna was in the final furlong, Change of Control edged clear late en route to stopping the teletimer in 1:05.89 at odds of 6-1 over a course rated soft.

“I knew we wouldn’t be able to see much,” Lovell said. “I couldn’t see anything, they were all ‘2s’ they were all white saddle towels. It’s a good thing they had the numbers up on the board.”

Ambassador Luna held for second, besting 6-5 favorite and multiple Group 1 winner Campanelle (IRE) by a neck.

“She got smashed leaving the gate and got shuffled back and came running (at the end),” said Wesley Ward, trainer of Campanelle.

Bred in Kentucky by Mr. John O’Meara, Change of Control improved her career earnings to $656,775, but will not be moving on to the Del Mar for a potential Breeders’ Cup start.

“We’ve thought that track (Del Mar) probably wouldn’t play well for her, so we’re happy to be here and we’ll find another spot,” Lovell said.