Keertana, a winner in four of her five starts last year including three in graded ranks, returns from an extended layoff as one of the main contenders in the $150,000 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs.
A field of 10 was drawn for the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, including 122-pound high weight Zagora, a grade I winner in 2011. Post time is slated for 4:40 p.m. EST.
Barbara Hunter’s 6-year-old homebred mare Keertana will be making her first start since last May when she won the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) going 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs. Earlier in the season she also won the Bewitch (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland going the same distance, The Very One (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park going 1 3/8 miles, and an allowance contest at Tampa in her season debut.
Keertana’s lone set back in 2011 was at Tampa Bay when she finished third in the Hillsborough (gr. IIIT). Zagora was second in that race, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Keertana.
Tom Proctor trains Keertana, who has banked nearly $1 million in 26 lifetime starts. Jose Lezcano has the mount and they will break from the outside post.
Martin Schwartz’s French-bred Zagora has won just once in six starts since coming to the United States in the fall of 2010, but has hit the board in all but one of those tries. She was graded stakes placed in her first four U.S. starts, including a runner-up finish in the grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in her debut. The daughter of Green Tune missed by a neck in the Hillsborough.
Trained by Chad Brown, Zagora broke through in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) last summer at Saratoga, winning by 1 1/2 lengths under Javier Castellano, who will be in the irons once again. She has been off since September when finishing seventh in the Canadian (Can-IIT).
Zagora, now 5, was a two-time grade III winner in France in 2010.
Two other European-bred fillies figure to take some action as well, Team Valor International’s Master Shade and Ninety North Racing Stable’s Crying Lightening.
Bred in Italy, Master Shade has won three of her five starts since arriving in the U.S., including an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in November. She has won on three different turf courses for trainer Graham Motion.
Irish-bred Crying Lightening has raced all over the world, including Europe, Dubai, and the U.S. She made her North American debut in December at Gulfstream, finishing a disappointing 10th, but this time picks up Julien Leparoux as her rider and figures to be more involved early on.
$150,000 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 4:40 p.m.), Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Dundalk Dust (IL), L R Goncalves, 116, C J Stewart
2. Blue Angel Express (FL), S Spieth, 116, B Silva
3. Martita Sangrita (KY), P Morales, 116, L Delacour
4. Zagora (FR), J Castellano, 122, C C Brown
5. Jenny's So Great (ON), R B Homeister Jr., 120, J Servis
6. Exclusive Love (KY), L Contreras, 116, M E Casse
7. Crying Lightening (IRE), J R Leparoux, 116, J J Toner
8. Abuela (KY), J K Court, 116, V H Oliver
9. Master Shade (ITY), A Garcia, 118, H G Motion
10. Keertana (KY), J Lezcano, 120, T F Proctor