Augustin Stable’s Forever Together, the champion grass mare in 2008, will make her season debut against a terrific field in the $200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) April 10 at Keeneland.
A six-time graded stakes winner, including a victory in last year’s Jenny Wiley, Forever Together was initially to be retired after finishing third in a failed bid to repeat the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) last Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, but her connections decided to bring the earner of more than $2.8 million back for another season. The 6-year-old daughter of Belong to Me will face seven in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. She will break from post 2 with regular rider Julien Leparoux in the irons.
Forever Together will have no easy task, as she will take on a group of accomplished fillies and mares that includes grade I turf winner Hot Cha Cha, the rapidly improving 5-year-olds Quiet Harbor and Wasted Tears, and the champion 2-year-old filly from 2008, Stardom Bound, who makes her first start on turf. Post time is set for 4:55 p.m. EST for the Jenny Wiley, which is one of four graded stakes on a Keeneland card highlighted by the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Jonathan Sheppard trains Forever Together, a winner of four grade I events on turf, including the 2008 BC Filly & Mare Turf and consecutive scores in Saratoga’s Diana Stakes. Bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm, the gray/roan mare has recorded a 9-3-5 record from 20 starts. She is out of the Relaunch mare Constant Companion.
Forever Together’s other grade I win came at Keeneland in the 2008 First Lady Stakes. She finished third in that same event a year ago and is 2-1-1 from four starts at the Lexington track.
Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha surprised at odds of 8-1 in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) last fall at Keeneland for her third stakes win of the season. The daughter of Cactus Ridge will also make her season debut after finishing last year’s campaign with a fourth-place effort in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs Nov. 14.
A 4-year-old filly conditioned by Philip Sims, Hot Cha Cha has been training steadily at Keeneland for her attempt at a sixth career win. In her other race at Keeneland, she missed by a nose in the 2009 Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT), which was her first start on turf. James Graham has the mount.
Stuart Janney III’s Quiet Harbor is a half-length shy of recording six consecutive wins. The daughter of Silver Deputy was closing gamely on the outside in the Feb. 20 Honey Fox (gr. IIIT), her graded stakes debut, but could not catch the winner, Bart Evans’ Wasted Tears, who earned her fourth straight score.
Quiet Harbor, trained by Shug McGaughey, won the Marshua’s River over the same Gulfstream turf course in January in her season debut. Eddie Castro has the call again.
Wasted Tears has won seven consecutive turf starts dating back to May 2008, and the only blemish on her record between then and now is an off-the-board finish on the Remington Park dirt later that year. The Najran mare scored her first graded stakes victory last summer at Lone Star Park when taking the Quija Board Distaff Handicap (gr. IIIT) for Evans, who is also her breeder/trainer.
IEAH Stables and partners’ Stardom Bound is a five-time grade I winner, but all of those came in California on synthetic surfaces. The 4-year-old daughter of Tapit is on a four-race winless streak, which began with her third-place finish in the 2009 Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland. Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., she is 0-for-2 this season, including a seventh last out in the La Canada (gr. II) Feb. 14 at Santa Anita. Rafael Bejarano will ride Stardom Bound of the first time.
$200,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:55 p.m. EST), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Salve Germania (IRE), J Castellano, 117, T A Pletcher
2. Forever Together (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, J E Sheppard
3. Wasted Tears (KY), R Maragh, 119, B B Evans
4. Stardom Bound (KY), R Bejarano, 117, R E Dutrow Jr.
5. Carribean Sunset (IRE), G K Gomez, 117, C Clement
6. Quiet Harbor (KY), E Castro, 117, C R McGaughey III
7. Hot Cha Cha (KY), J Graham, 117, P A Sims
8. Treat Gently (GB), K J Desormeaux, 117, W I Mott