Racing fans will be hard-pressed to find a more talent-laden weekend turf event than the $400,000 Just a Game, in which older fillies and mares go a mile on the turf. Familiar names include Bit of Whimsy, Criminologist, Sharp Susan, Lady of Venice, and Ventura.
While Vacare will have to dig deep to score this win, she is 2-for-2 at a mile. But Fred and Jane Brei’s Bayou’s Lassie seems poised to lead the field from start to finish. A frontrunning daughter of Outflanker, the three-time grade III winner comes off a 1 ¾-length victory in the May 3 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT), in which she bested 2006 Eclipse Award winner Dreaming of Anna along with Just a Game contenders Lady of Venice and Juddmonte Farms’ Ventura. The Bobby Frankel-trained Ventura is a co-high weight along with Joyce B. Young and Gerald McManis’ Bit of Whimsy, who was sixth in the April 27 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland but missed a score in that 1 1/16-mile event by just 2 1/2 lengths.
The distance is no question for Bayou’s Lassie off her recent score, but Bit of Whimsy and Stuart Janney’s Criminologist may be hard-pressed to back down to one mile. Bit of Whimsy has never raced over a mile, while Criminologist ran second to Sharp Susan in an April 6 one-mile allowance at Keeneland, her five-wide bid for for trainer Shug McGaughey coming too late. She lengthened back out to 1 1/16 miles and promptly took the April 26 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT), her most recent start.
2. Spenditallbaby, 118, Julien Leparoux
3. Bit of Whimsy, 120, Javier Castellano
4. Ventura, 120, Garrett Gomez
5. Criminologist, 118, John Velazquez
6. Forever Together, 118, Ramon Dominguez
7. Bayou's Lassie, 118, Robbie Albarado
8. Sharp Susan, 118, Kent Desormeaux
9. Them There Eyes, 118, Jose Espinoza
10. Vacare, 118, Corey Nakatani