The 1 1/16-mile turf event has drawn the likes of Patsy C. Symons' two-time Mount Vernon Stakes winner Gitchee Goomie, who was second in the 2011 edition of this race, and Pinch Pie, who rolls in off a runner-up finish by a length in the May 28 Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park. Those two are co-highweights at 118 pounds.
Pinch Pie, owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Stuart Grant, is the class of the field. The 4-year-old daughter of Victory Gallop finished third on dirt behind Royal Delta and It's Tricky in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) last summer for trainer Tony Dutrow. She earned a career-best 88 Beyer speed figure in the Violet, and got her 2012 season started with a three-quarter length score over Gitchee Goomie in a one-mile turf allowance optional claimer March 30 at Gulfstream Park.
Gitchee Goomie came back from that loss to take the Mount Vernon and also earned an 88 Beyer while winning by half a length over Hessonite, a rival she'll face again this time out. The 5-year-old City Zip mare was a runner-up by 2 1/4 lengths to Winter Memories for trainer Rick Violette Jr. in the May 5 Beaugay Stakes (gr. II), her only other additional start this year besides the March 30 loss to Pinch Pie.
Hessonite, a 4-year-old daughter of top New York stallion Freud , defeated Gitchee Goomie in 2011 when she took the Oct. 22 Justenuffhumor Ticonderoga Stakes at Belmont Park. But trainer David Donk is still looking to get Hessonite her first win of the season after she finished sixth in the Beaugay and missed in the Mount Vernon.
Hessonite carries 117 pounds, as does the John Terranova-trained My Redbyrd. The field also includes two 4-year-old fillies formerly based in Europe, Laughing and Julie's Love. Laughing comes off a third-place finish in the May 19 Gallorette (gr. III) at Pimlico Race Course for trainer Alan Goldberg, while Julie's Love carries a two-race win streak in allowance company in the U.S. for trainer Graham Motion. She raced in Germany and France last year in group I and II stakes, and makes her first foray into similar ranks in North America in this start.
Clare Skies Ahead, a deep closer who barely missed by a neck at odds of 16-1 in her last start, the Edward P. Evans All Along (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs, completes the field along with Safe Crossing and Naples Bay.
$250,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 3:50 p.m.), 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Julie's Love (GB), J.R. Leparoux, 115, H G Motion
2. Safe Crossing (KY), A. Cintron, 116, J E Sheppard
3. Naples Bay (KY), J. Lezcano, 114, C Clement
4. Gitchee Goomie (NY), A. Garcia, 118, R A Violette Jr.
5. Laughing (IRE), J. Rosario, 115, A E Goldberg
6. Clare Skies Ahead (KY), H. Karamanos, 115, F W Stites
7. My Redbyrd (KY), R. Maragh, 117, J P Terranova, II
8. Pinch Pie (KY), J. Castellano, 118, A W Dutrow
9. Hessonite (NY), R.A. Dominguez, 117, D G Donk