Keen Liaison surprises in Harley Greene Derby

After qualifying in eighth place during the trials, Keen Liaison and Ronald Hisby put their best effort forward to win the $98,200 Harley Greene Derby at Indiana Grand Saturday, June 3. The race, now in its third running, is named after Greene, who worked for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for several decades as a farm inspector and was one of the individuals who were instrumental in preserving Quarter Horse racing in the state of Indiana.

Keen Liaison and Ronald Hisby get the slight advantage at the wire to win the Harley Greene Derby Saturday, June 7 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post seven, Keen Liaison and Hisby got a clean start from the gate and maintained positioning in the early stages of the 350-yard dash. Halfway through the event, Hisby began to see a response from the three-year-old daughter of Sixes Liaison and the duo found themselves in a close battle near the wire with Kid Cartel, ridden by Giovani Vasquez-Gomez, and First Cucuy and Jose Davila. It appeared that Kid Cartel might get the advantage of the three horse photo from the inside but it was Keen Liaison who had the strongest finish, taking the title by the margin of a nose over Kid Cartel, who was just a head in front of First Cucuy.

Many friends and family join the Blacks in the winner’s circle for the trophy presentation of the Harley Greene Derby. Greene was also in attendance for the presentation. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Paying $44.40, $17.20 and $10.20 across the board, Keen Liaison was greeted by her owners, James Black and his wife, Connie, who appeared just as surprised as the betting public. She is now two for three since joining their stable under the direction of trainer Erin Thompson.

“This is a nice mare that has been training really well,” said Thompson. “She tries her hardest every time.”

Thompson received Keen Liaison from the Blacks last fall after their purchased her from a sale. They sent the sorrel filly to Erin in Florida for a few months before returning back to the Midwest for the racing season at Indiana Grand.

“She (Keen Liaison) always breaks good, and finishes strong,” said James. “She won her first start for us and came back and finished second in the trial. We were just glad to make it to the final. This is a whole lot of money.”

Rachel McLaughlin, on-air racing personality, talks with James and Connie Black as well as Jockey Ronald Hisby and Trainer Erin Thompson following their win with Keen Liaison in the Harley Greene Derby. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

James wife, Connie, added, “It’s enough for us to bring another horse here.”

Keen Liaison now has two wins in four career starts with purse earnings in excess of more than $70,000, adding more than $58,000 to her tally with her win in the Greene Derby. She is a good fit with Hisby, who is new to Indiana Grand this season. The Peruvian-born jockey rides both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses at the Indiana oval.

“She breaks good and we got good positioning tonight,” said Hisby. “She really finished strong, too.”