For all the concern about the new point system to to make this year's Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) field, the only stakes on the May 3 card to draw a maximum 14-horse field was another race for 3-year-old fillies, the Eight Belles Presented by Xerox (gr. III).
One of five supporting features on Oaks day at Churchill Downs, the $150,000 Eight Belles will be contested at seven furlongs. It is race 8 on the Friday card, and has a scheduled post time of 3:02 p.m. EDT.
The most accomplished filly in the race is So Many Ways, winner of the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course last summer making her first start for trainer Tom Amoss in the Eight Belles. But two others, Fusaichiswonderful and Calistoga, are better fancied on the morning line.
Donald Dizney's undefeated Calistoga, to be ridden by Joel Rosario for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, is the early favorite at odds of 7-2 in spite of drawing the far outside post in the bulky field. The daughter of Speightstown , bred in Kentucky by Jerry and Ann Moss, has won her two starts by more than 10 lengths but makes a big leap in class with her first stakes appearance.
Her previous races came at Gulfstream Park, where she most recently won a first-level allowance/optional claiming race easily at 6 1/2 furlongs March 7.
Aquino Stable's Fusaichiswonderful, pegged at 9-2 on the morning line, has had two United States starts this year after dominating 2-year-olds at Puerto Rico's Camarero Racetrack last year. Todd Pletcher trains the daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus . She comes off a 5 3/4-length romp in the overnight Primal Stakes at Gulfstream March 1, a race in which So May Ways ran third as the 7-10 favorite.
Fusaichiswonderful made her U.S. debut with a fourth-place effort in Gulfstream's Forward Gal (gr. II) Jan. 26. She won all of five of her starts last year at Camarero by a combined 37 lengths. Four of the wins came in graded events, including two against males. Javier Castellano will ride Fusaichiswonderful from gate 2.
After winning all three of her races at 2, Maggi Moss' So Many Ways has been blanked in two tries this year. She comes off a fifth-place showing in the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 30, tiring after setting the pace, and should be back in her comfort zone at seven furlongs. The Sightseeing lass won the Spinaway at the distance in her final start last season by 2 1/2 lengths when trained by Tony Dutrow.
Amoss tabs Garrett Gomez to ride the Pennsylvania-bred bay filly for the first time. The 6-1 shot on the morning line leaves from post 9.
Others who should draw attention are undefeated Blueeyesintherein, 3-for-3 for trainer Garry Simms including the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill last June; Southern California-based Renee's Titan, winner of the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) at 20-1 in January at Santa Anita Park for trainer Doug O'Neill; stakes winner Dancinginthecircle, a Larry Jones trainee looking to rebound from a fifth in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots; and Touch Magic, who has not raced since taking the the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds Jan. 19 for trainer Patrick Devereux Jr. All four are listed at 8-1 odds.
Zillah Reddam's Renee's Titan, eighth in the Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack at Keeneland April 14, is the 123-pound high weight in the Eight Belles and will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
$150 Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Xerox (gr. III, Race 8, 3:02 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Chortle (KY), F C Torres, 118, B Williamson, 20/1
2. Fusaichiswonderful (KY), J Castellano, 118, T A Pletcher, 9/2
3. Blueeyesintherein (KY), J K Court, 118, G W Simms, 8/1
4. Sittin At the Bar (LA), S Bridgmohan, 120, B A Brinkman, 20/1
5. Renee's Titan (KY), M Gutierrez, 123, D F O'Neill, 8/1
6. Neith (KY), V Lebron, 118, D W Lukas, 50/1
7. Spring Venture (KY), R Albarado, 118, M E Casse, 15/1
8. Gold Medal Dancer (KY), C J Lanerie, 118, D K Von Hemel, 15/1
9. So Many Ways (PA), G K Gomez, 118, T M Amoss, 6/1
10. Irish Lute (FL), B J Hernandez Jr., 118, D Stewart, 30/1
11. Dancinginthecircle (KY), R Napravnik, 118, J L Jones, 8/1
12. Touch Magic (KY), J Graham, 118, P Devereux Jr., 8/1
13. Guadalupe High (LA), M Mena, 120, R W Werner, 15/1
14. Calistoga (KY), J Rosario, 118, W I Mott, 7/2