Kris and John Richter's Bien Nicole, who won five races in a row at five different racetracks last year before finishing third in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT), will carry high weight of 123 pounds in Saturday's $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III).
A field of nine fillies and mares will compete in the 1 1/16-mile stake, the final local prep for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I), which is April 5.
Donnie Von Hemel trains the 5-year-old daughter of Bien Bien, who did her damage on the turf during last year's winning streak, which included a victory in the Estrapade at Arlington on Oct. 25. In the Cardinal at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23, her first race in a graded stakes, she was sent off as the 6-5 favorite, but tired after setting the pace. Regular rider Don Pettinger will have the call.
Mandy's Gold brings the best credentials and will be the likely favorite. She recorded five wins and six seconds from 13 starts in 2002, including wins in Belmont Park's Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) and Saratoga's Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. III) for Steeplechase Farm.
Braun & English's Pippin Stakes winner Red n'Gold and the highly-regarded New York stakes mare Mandy's Gold, both carrying 117 pounds, also figure prominently Saturday.
Trained by Bob Holthus, Red n'Gold finished second in the Oaklawn Breeders' Cup last season to California invader, Ask Me No Secrets, following a win in the Pippin.$200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Secret of Mecca, 113, Garcia
2. Reason to Talk, 117, Lopez
3. Mandy's Gold, 117, Douglas
4a. Due to Win Again, 117, Castellano Jr.
5. Lotta Rhythm, 117, Court
6. Cherylville Slew, 113, Quinonez
7. Red n'Gold, 117, Thompson
8. Bien Nicole, 122, Pettinger
9a. Took Out, 113, Kuntzweiler