It's rare to have a graded stakes for juvenile fillies this late in the season with only one starter that has stakes experience, but that's the case for the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) lineup Nov. 30 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Repole Stable's Stopchargingmaria, a grade III winner last time out, stands out against five rivals for the nine-furlong race.
She is one of three in the field for trainer Todd Pletcher, who will also send out Got Lucky, from the rail, and Lexi Morgan.
While not a defining race for the juvenile filly championship, the Demoiselle can be a springboard for bigger and better things at 3. Recent winners of the Demoiselle that have moved forward include Ajina (champion 3-year-old filly of 1997), dual classic producer Better Than Honour, Jostle, Ashado (two-time champion), and Mushka. Last year's winner, Unlimited Budget, captured the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) and was third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) for Repole Stable and Pletcher.
The Demoiselle is the first of four graded stakes on the Cigar Mile (gr. I) program Saturday. The filly race goes as the sixth on the card with an expected post time of 2:22 p.m. EST.
Stopchargingmaria, a $47,000 Keeneland September sale yearling and $220,000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. select sale graduate, has made a nice progression from sprinting this summer to winning the one-mile Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at the Big A by 10 3/4 lengths Nov. 3. The extra furlong would not appear to be a stretch for the daughter of Tale of the Cat —Exotic Bloom, by Montbrook.
Stopchargingmaria was bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke, the breeder of I'll Have Another , and the Seitz family's Brookdale Farm.
Pletcher's other pair would seem to be suited for the distance based on their pedigrees. Got Lucky (A.P. Indy—Malka, by Deputy Minister), has made only one start, finishing a length behind Demoiselle entrant Penwith at Belmont Park Oct. 27. She races for her breeders, John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Philip J. Steinberg.
Lexi Morgan (Arch--Strike the Sky, by Smart Strike), won going a mile last time at Aqueduct in 1:38.78 in her third start. Racing for R R Partners, she was bred in Kentucky by Jay W. Bligh and Roger Weiss.
Darley Stable's Penwith made the most of her second start, winning at a mile at Belmont in 1:37.57 while topping Got Lucky. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Penwith is by Darley stallion Bernardini out of grade I winner Composure (by Touch Gold). She is closely related to the grade I-placed runner Centring (by Bernardini's sire, A.P. Indy).
A.P. Indy is well represented in the Demoiselle with another entrant, Bobby Flay's homebred America. A winner second time out in a mile maiden special weight race at Belmont Oct. 9, America RNA'd for $725,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.
Rounding out the field is the New York-bred Mlle. Minuit. Bred and raced by Aikendale Farm, the Kathleen Feron-trained filly made her first two starts on turf before breaking her maiden on the main track at Belmont Oct. 24. By Midnight Lute , she is out of the Silver Charm mare Mlle. De Paris.
$400,000, Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II, race 6, approximate post time 2:22 p.m. EST), 2YO, fillies, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1, Got Lucky (KY), M. Smith, 115, T. Pletcher
2, Lexi Morgan (KY), I Ortiz Jr., 115, T. Pletcher
3, Penwith (KY), L. Saez, 115, K. McLaughlin
4, America (KY), J. Alvarado, 115, W. Mott
5, Mlle. Minuit (NY), G. Rodriguez, 115, K. Feron
6, Stopchargingmaria (KY), J. Castellano, 121, T. Pletcher