Just Wicked heads a field of eight 2-year-old fillies for the Pocahontas.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/At-the-Races-2015/i-H7g4P3q">Order This Photo</a>

Just Wicked heads a field of eight 2-year-old fillies for the Pocahontas.
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Just Wicked Stretches Out for Pocahontas

Adirondack Stakes winner readies to go two turns Sept. 12 at Churchill Downs.

Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) victress Just Wicked heads a field of eight 2-year-old fillies for the $200,000 Pocahontas (gr. II) Sept. 12 at Churchill Downs, an event that officially launches the 2015-16 Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

The 1 1/16-mile test will see the daughter of Tapit  depart from post 7 as the even-money favorite on the morning line, assigned the high weight of 122 pounds under regular rider Jose Ortiz.

The Pocahontas—the nation's first two-turn graded stakes race for juvenile fillies—is the first of 31 races that will determine which horses qualify to the 142nd running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 6. The top four finishers will be awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale as part of the 16-race "Prep Season" that showcases foundation-building races in advance of the "Kentucky Oaks Championship Series," which begins in late February.

Additionally, the Pocahontas is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Oct. 31 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Keeneland, awarding the winner an automatic berth in the starting gate with entry fees and a travel allowance paid by Breeders' Cup. All Pocahontas entrants except Washington shipper Princess Kennedy are Breeders' Cup-nominated.

Just Wicked, a Winchell homebred out of 2011 Tiffany Lass winner Wicked Deed, is the horse to beat after inching past 6-5 favorite Tonasah inside the final furlong of the Aug. 15 Adirondack at Saratoga Race Course to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:16.61. It was the gray filly's second win in a row.

NOVAK: Just Wicked Edges Tonasah in Adirondack

Just Wicked could have remained in upstate New York for last Saturday's $350,000 Spinaway (gr. I), but trainer Steve Asmussen, a two-time Pocahontas winner with Punch Appeal (2004) and future Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable (2013), was eager to compete in races with more distance.

"I'm just wanting to get a two-turn race in her," Asmussen said. "She's a lovely filly. She proved herself in the Adirondack and we're trying to get to the next step going from (6 1/2 furlongs) to (1 1/16 miles). She's trained nicely. She handles everything well."

The lone Pocahontas entrant with two-turn experience is Magdalena Racing's Dothraki Queen, a daughter of Pure Prize who won her debut over a mile on grass at Ellis Park in July.

"There's nothing wrong with the surface change," trainer Kenny McPeek said. "She's been training here at Churchill her whole life and we're pretty excited about her. She reminds me of a better version of Rosalind (third in the Pocahontas and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2013) at this stage. She did the same thing as this filly—broke her maiden at Ellis and then came back and was third in the Pocahontas."

Corey Lanerie rides from post 5 as part of a 118-pound impost.

Other entries include Big Chief Thoroughbreds and Gene Voss' Decked Out, the Keith Desormeaux trainee who was runner-up in the $225,000 Astoria at Belmont Park, third in the $150,000 Schuylerville (gr. III) at Saratoga and fourth, 9 1/2 lengths behind Just Wicked, in the Adirondack.

David Thorner's Emerald Downs invader Princess Kennedy also has stakes experience with an 8 3/4-length romp in the $49,500 Barbara Shinpoch Aug. 15. Previously conditioned by Tom Wenzel, she'll be saddled Saturday by new trainer Gary "Red Dog" Hartlage, who won the 2011 Pocahontas with future multiple grade I winner On Fire Baby.

"(Thorner) is associated with Lee McMillan, the gentlemen who bred On Fire Baby, and there wasn't anything up there (at Emerald Downs) so he just sent her down here to me," Hartlage said. "She acts like she'll do (two turns) just fine. She's training great and I can't ask for anything better going on."

While the filly has left her Seattle base, Princess Kennedy will retain her Pacific Northwest jockey Gallyn Mitchell, the pilot in all four of her career starts.

"The owner wants to use him so that's good—that's loyal," Hartlage said. "I'm loyal to Joe (Johnson) all the time. A part of the deal was that if she came, Gallyn would ride her."

The remaining entrants—Bold Quality, Dream Dance, Put Da Blame On Me, and Vivid Storm—are maiden winners.

The Pocahontas is one of four stakes races on the first Saturday of Churchill's 11-date September Meet, which opens Friday. First post for Saturday's 11-race card is 12:45 p.m. ET. Saturday's National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for partly sunny skies with high of 71 and a 20% chance of showers.

Entries: Pocahontas S. (G2)

Churchill Downs, Saturday, September 12, 2015, Race 8

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 2 yo Fillies
  • 4:18 PM (local)
11Decked Out (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateColby J. Hernandez118J. Keith Desormeaux-
22Bold Quality (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduatePaco Lopez118Kelly J. Breen-
33Dream Dance (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.118Neil J. Howard-
44Princess Kennedy (KY)Gallyn Vick Mitchell120Gary G. Hartlage-
55Dothraki Queen (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie118Kenneth G. McPeek-
66Vivid Storm (KY)Calvin H. Borel118William B. Bradley-
77Just Wicked (KY)Jose L. Ortiz122Steven M. Asmussen-
88Put Da Blame On Me (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateAlbin Jimenez118Dale L. Romans-