Third in her American debut in the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) last month, French-bred Stacelita heads a strong field of 11 older fillies and mares in the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park Aug. 13.
The Beverly D., one of three grade I races on Arlington's International Festival of Racing program, directly precedes the Arlington Million (gr. IT). It is scheduled as the ninth race with an approximate post of 4:33 p.m. CDT. The Beverly D., at 1 3/16 miles on grass, is a "Breeders' Cup Win and You're In" challenge race, with the winner earning an automatic berth in the Emirates Airline Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs this fall.
Five-year-old Stacelita, trained by Chad Brown for owner Martin Schwartz, was transferred to the U.S. in June and took on males in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations July 3 at Monmouth Park. She took a brief lead in mid-stretch but was passed late by the victorious Teaks North, finishing a close third.
“She’s gotten a little bit better each week we’ve had her,” Brown said from Saratoga Aug. 10. “Her energy level has been great and we are really pleased with the way she has been training.”
Stacelita worked at Saratoga Aug. 8 and recorded a four-furlong time of :48.23 over the firm Oklahoma turf course.
The U.N. was Stacelita's second start after a six-month layoff following her eighth-place finish in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) at Sha-Tin in December. The 2009 French Oaks (Fr-I) winner drew the inside post for the Beverly D. and is the 3-1 morning line choice. Ramon Dominguez has the call.
Stacelita last tasted victory in the Prix Jean Romanet (Fr-I) almost one year ago at Deauville in France. Schwartz is seeking his third win in the Beverly D. following Angara in 2005 and Gorella in 2006.
She faces a salty field that includes South African star River Jetez in her American debut, the fast-developing British import Cheetah, defending champion Éclair De Lune, Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) winner Dubawi Heights, and Fantasia, who won Arlington's major prep race for the Beverly D., the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT).
River Jetez, an 8-year-old mare trained by the famed Mike de Kock and owned by Barbara and Cedrick Amm and Marsh Shirtliff, is seeking her first win since the Balanchine Stakes (UAE-II) at Meydan in February. She missed winning the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) by less than a length when second to Presvis at the World Cup Festival March 26. In her most recent start, River Jetez finished fifth in the Falmouth Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket July 8.
Set as the 4-1 second choice, River Jetez drew post 6 and will have the services of top European rider Christophe Soumillon, who was aboard for her last win. River Jetez is a 12-time winner in 38 races with earnings of more than $1.5 million.
Off her late-running tally as the favorite in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park July 9, the improving Cheetah is the 9-2 third choice. Owned by Robert Scarborough, the 4-year-old gray/roan daughter of Tiger Hill is two-for-two since being transferred to the U.S.
She is under the care of trainer Christophe Clement, who has won three prior renewals of the Beverly D: England’s Legend in 2001, Royal Highness in 2007, and Mauralakana in 2008. Cheetah will be ridden by Garrett Gomez for the third time in her career.
Augustin Stable’s Fantasia is pegged at 6-1 after her one-length win in the 1 3/16-mile Modesty July 9, her first graded stakes score in the U.S. for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Rajiv Maragh, aboard for the Modesty, has the return call.
Éclair De Lune has lost five races in a row since her 1 1/2-length win in last year's Beverly D. The German-bred daughter of Marchand de Sable comes into the race with a strong series of long turf works at trainer Ron McAnally’s Southern California base. Last time out, Éclair De Lune was sixth, beaten six lengths in the May 30 Gamely at Hollywood Park. Junior Alvarado will sport the royal blue and gold silks of Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois for the 12-1 morning-line chance.
The winner of the Gamely was Dubawi Heights, trained in Southern California by Simon Callaghan for an ownership group that includes the trainer's father Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, M.V. Magnier, and Annabel Wyatt. It was the younger Callaghan's first grade I victory.
Dubawai Heights, a 4-year-old British-bred daughter of Dubawi, stretched her winning streak to four in the Gamely. Joel Rosario, making his debut in the Beverly D., retains the mount. Dubawi Heights has recorded five solid works after getting some time off.
Locally-based Never Retreat, winner of the Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine most recently, gives trainer Chris Block his first starter in the Beverly D. In seven starts this year, the Team Block-owned 6-year-old mare by Smart Strike has visited Gulfstream, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Woodbine, tallying three wins and three placings. Never Retreat will be making her first start on turf over a distance greater than nine furlongs for Block, who leads all trainers in earnings from the current Arlington meet and is ranked fourth in wins. Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount drawn in post 11.
Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, runaway winner of the Arlington Matron (gr. III) over Polytrack, attempts to transfer her form back to the grass, where she owns three of her five lifetime wins. Part of Newmarket-based trainer Gerard Butler’s string at Arlington, Pachattack missed some training time in June and will run fresh off four works. Florent Geroux, who guided Pachattack to the six-length Matron score, is back aboard.
Also slated to start in Saturday’s Beverly D. are Check The Label, winless since the Garden City (gr. IT) at Belmont in September; Upperline, a two-time turf winner at Fair Grounds early in 2011 trained by the Arlington-based Mike Stidham; and Romin Robin, second to Fantasia in the Modesty.
$750,000 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT, Race 9, 4:33 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 3/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Stacelita (FR), R Dominguez, C Brown, 3/1
2. Check the Label (KY), J. Leparoux, H G Motion, 20/1
3. Fantasia (GB), R Maragh, J Sheppard, 6/1
4. Upperline (KY), J Graham, M Stidham, 20/1
5. Dubawi Heights (GB), J Rosario, S Callaghan, 10/1
6. River Jetez (SAF), C. Soumillon, M de Kock, 4/1
7. Cheetah (GB), G Gomez, C Clement, 9/2
8. Pachattack (KY), F Geroux, G Butler, 10/1
9. Éclair De Lune (GER), J Alvarado, R McAnally, 12/1
10. Romin Robin (FL), J Santana, D Kassen, 30/1
11. Never Retreat (KY), S Bridgmohan, C Block, 10/1