A talented group of eight fillies and mares will line up against last year’s female turf champion Forever Together when she makes her 5-year-old debut April 11 in the $200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland.
Chief among Forever Together’s competitors in the 1 1/16-mile contest for older fillies and mares are fellow grade I winners Rutherienne, who will be defending her victory in last year’s Jenny Wiley, and Backseat Rhythm.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Forever Together has not raced since taking the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita last October, but she is no stranger to Keeneland. In her final start prior to the Breeders’ Cup, the gray/roan daughter of Belong to Me won the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at the Lexington track. As a 3-year-old, she also finished second by a neck to Street Sounds in the 2007 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II).
Forever Together, who will carry top weight of 123 pounds in the Jenny Wiley, came into her own last year when she was switched to the turf. In her first start over grass, she won Arlington Park’s Reluctant Guest Stakes in May. Her first grade I victory came in the Diana Stakes at Saratoga two months later.
George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable campaigns Forever Together, who has earned just over $2 million. Julien Leparoux, who has ridden the mare in her last four starts, retains the mount.
In 2008, Rutherienne won the Jenny Wiley by a neck in her seasonal debut, and is looking to repeat that feat this year. Trained by Christophe Clement, the 5-year-old Pulpit mare has not raced since finishing third in the Dec. 6 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder.
Racing as a homebred for Virginia Kraft Payson, Rutherienne is looking to break a streak of six third-place finishes, including defeats behind Forever Together in both the First Lady and Diana. She will carry 117 pounds.
Unlike Forever Together and Rutherienne, Paul Pompa Jr.’s Backseat Rhythm already has two races under her belt this year, including a victory in the March 14 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT). Trained by Patrick Reynolds , the 4-year-old El Corredor filly will carry 119 pounds.
Ballymore Lady, Visit, Lady Carlock, and I Lost My Choo are a quartet of group/grade III-winning fillies looking to add to their resumes. Of the four, I Lost My Choo is the only one coming into the race off a victory. The Philip Serpe trainee took the March 7 Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIIT) by two lengths over Irish-bred Rustic Flame, who is also entered in the Jenny Wiley. Visit finished third by a neck in the March 22 Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT), while Ballymore Lady was third by three-quarters of a length to Backseat Rhythm in the Hillsborough.
Kiss With a Twist, who has won her last two starts in stakes company, rounds out the field.
$200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:42 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/6 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. I Lost My Choo, Edgar Prado, 119
2. Lady Carlock, Robby Albarado, 119
3. Forever Together, Julien Leparoux, 123
4. Ballymore Lady, Kent Desormeaux, 119
5. Rustic Flame, Corey Lanerie, 117
6. Kiss With a Twist, Miguel Mena, 117
7. Backseat Rhythm, Eibar Coa, 119
8. Rutherienne, Alan Garcia, 117
9. Visit, Garrett Gomez, 117