Champion juvenile filly She's a Tiger, disqualified from a win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. ) in her final start of 2013, makes her first start of the year in the $175,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) May 2 Churchill Downs.
The daughter of Tale of the Cat made all the pace and finished first, just a nose in front of Ria Antonia, in the Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, but her number came down for drifting out during the stretch run and brushing with that rival, a 32-1 shot who was elevated to first.
She's a Tiger was placed second as the 5-1 fourth choice in a heartbreaking conclusion to a consistent season in which she placed in all six starts, winning three races, including the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) run at the Eight Belle's seven-furlong distance. She went on to win the Eclipse Award as the season's champion 2-year-old filly for owners Mark Dedomenico, Allen Aldrich, Lisa Hernandez, Stuart Downey, and Phillip Lebherz, and trainer Jeff Bonde.
Her 3-3-0 record includes her nine-length debut romp at Pleasanton last June, followed by the Landaluce Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. Her Del Mar Debutante win was bookended by runner-up finishes in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) and the Chandelier Stakes (gr. I), the latter her start prior to the Breeders' Cup.
Both fillies will compete the same day at Churchill as Ria Antonia is among the 13-horse field for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), three races later on the card, in which she is pegged at 10-1 on the morning line.
She's a Tiger comes into the Eight Belles after a steady schedule of workouts at Santa Anita this year, and had her final serious tune-up at Churchill Downs April 26, a half-mile breeze in :48 3/5 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who will be aboard when she breaks from the far outside post 12 in the Eight Belles.
She's a Tiger's primary opponent looks to be Our Amazing Rose, who is perfect in two career starts.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Repole Stable, Our Amazing Rose won her debut at Saratoga Race Course last year in her only start and took a six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct Racetrack March 17, as the 2-5 favorite in each. John Velazquez will have the mount on the Yes It's True filly, who will break from post-position four.
Fiftyshadesofgold, a Texas-bred daughter of My Golden Song who races for the estate of breeder Clarence Scharbauer Jr., won last year's six-furlong Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs and she opened this season with a clear victory in the seven-furlong Two Altazano Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. She finished second, 7 3/4 lengths behind likely Kentucky Oaks morning-line favorite Untapable, in the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 29. She will break from the seven hole with Mike Smith.
Also entered is Valene Farms' 2013 Adirondack (gr. II) winner Designer Legs, a Louisiana-bred Graeme Hall filly who most recently was fifth in the Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 29 in her only start this year. Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount on the filly, who starts from post 3.
The only other stakes winner in the 12-horse field is Joseph Sutton's Milam, who captured the Pica Slew Stakes by eight lengths at Calder Casino & Race Course Feb. 22. Jose Lezcano will ride the Street Sense filly from post 9.
$175,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III, approximate post time 3:02 p.m. EDT), 3-year-old fillies, seven furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Whomping Willow (KY), C J Lanerie, D L Romans
2. Lady Paradime (KY), R Maragh, K J Breen
3. Designer Legs (LA), S Bridgmohan, D Stewart
4. Our Amazing Rose (KY), J R Velazquez, T A Pletcher
5. Jojo Warrior (KY), R Napravnik, B Baffert
6. Cash Control (KY), J Graham, S Margolis
7. Fiftyshadesofgold (TX), M E Smith, W B Calhoun
8. Mufajaah (KY), J M Johnson, D C Peitz
9. Milam (KY), J Lezcano, E Kenneally
10. She's a Tiger (KY), G L Stevens, J Bonde
All to carry 118 pounds.