Flaxman Holdings' Aruna seeks back-to-back wins in the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 6, facing 12 rivals as she attempts to become just the fourth horse to accomplish the feat.
The Juddmonte Spinster, 1 1/8 miles over Polytrack, is a "Win and You're In" event for the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, and will go as the eighth on a nine-race card with an approximate post time of 4:49 p.m. EDT.
Aruna won the 2011 Spinster for trainer Graham Motion under jockey Ramon Dominguez, who returns to pilot from post 3. Take Charge Lady (2002-03), Bayakoa (ARG) (1989-90), and Bornastar (1957-58) are the other three winners of consecutive runnings of the test for older fillies and mares.
Motion expects the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley to return to the form that saw her take the May 26 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. IIT) and finish second in the June 30 New York Stakes (gr. IIT), both at Belmont Park. She was the victim of bad racing luck last time out in the Aug. 18 Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, stumbling at the start and racing last of 10, then clipping heels at the quarter pole and trailing the field into the stretch.
The Spinster could pose a tough challenge for Aruna, however. Twelve of the 13 entrants are graded stakes winners, and two are grade I winners: Team Valor International's Summer Soiree, who is cross-entered in the Oct. 6 $350,000 First Lady (gr. IT), and Alex Campbell Jr.'s 3-year-old Karlovy Vary.
Summer Soiree won the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) and a pair of grade III events last year. Also trained by Motion, she recently returned off a significant layup to post a third-place finish in the Aug. 25 Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course. Her start at Keeneland will be just her second this year; prior to the Ballston Spa, she raced second in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) at Betfair Hollywood Park in November 2011.
Karlovy Vary won the Central Bank Ashland (gr. I) over Keeneland's main track this spring before a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Trained by Rusty Arnold, the daughter of Dynaformer ran third in the Nani Rose Stakes at Saratoga this summer, but was unsuccessful making a return to graded company in her last endeavor; she finished seventh in the Sept. 15 Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont.
Tiz Miz Sue has been keeping company this summer with the top fillies on the East Coast, and returns to Polytrack for the first time since posting a victory and two seconds in three starts over the similar Arlington surface as a 2-year-old in 2009.
"Today was the first day she had been on Polytrack since Arlington," trainer Steve Hobby said Oct. 4. "That was part of the reason in running here because I knew she would handle it. I don't know if I would have run her here had she not run on it before."
In her most recent start for Hobby and owner-breeder Carol Ricks' Cresran, the 5-year-old Tiznow mare finished fourth behind Love and Pride and champion Royal Delta, beaten two lengths, in the Aug. 26 Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga. Prior to that, she was beaten just a neck by Royal Delta in the July 21 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) and was second to Love and Pride in the June 16 Obeah (gr. III), both at Delaware Park.
Hobby bypassed the Sept. 29 Beldame (gr. I) at Belmont to take a shot in the Spinster.
"I am kind of glad I didn't run in the Beldame with the way Royal Delta ran," the trainer said, referring to that filly's 9 1/2-length victory. "And then Love and Pride won that race at Santa Anita (the grade I Zenyatta by 3 1/4 lengths) and that validated her form."
Todd Pletcher brings the duo of In Lingerie and Disposablepleasure into the Spinster, the former for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber and the latter for Glencrest Farm.
In Lingerie, winner of the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) in May, was recently second, nine lengths behind Questing, in the Aug. 18 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) on the dirt at Saratoga. The 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker broke her maiden by 6 1/4 lengths on the Polytrack at Turfway in January.
Disposablepleasure, a 3-year-old Giacomo filly, was sixth last time out in the Aug. 19 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes (gr. IIT). She has raced competitively in key events in her division including a runner-up finish in the Black Eyed Susan and just a three-quarter-length loss to Zo Impressive in the June 23 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. IT).
Others in the Spinster field include grade III winner Upperline, who exits a fifth-place finish in the Beverly D. for trainer Michael Stidham, and Mystical Star, who was eighth in the same race for Christophe Clement. Grade III winners Smart Sting, Starformer, and Kitty in a Tizzy are in the mix as well.
The Alan Goldberg-trained Monmouth Beach Stakes winner Nefertini and La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) winner Juanita, who is cross-entered for the Oct. 6 Mari Hulman George Stakes at Hoosier Park by trainer Mike Maker, complete the field.
$500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, approximate post 4:49 p.m. EDT), fillies & mares 3YOs & Up, 1 1/8 miles (All Weather Track)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Disposablepleasure (KY), R. Napravnik, 121, T A Pletcher
2. Juanita (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 124, M J Maker
3. Aruna (KY), R.A. Dominguez, 124, H G Motion
4. Summer Soiree (KY), G. Saez, 124, H G Motion
5. In Lingerie (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 121, T A Pletcher
6. Tiz Miz Sue (KY), J. Rocco, Jr., 123, S Hobby
7. Upperline (KY), J. Graham, 124, M Stidham
8. Nefertini (KY), E. Trujillo, 124, A E Goldberg
9. Smart Sting (KY), P. Lopez, 124, R L Attfield
10. Starformer (KY), J.R. Leparoux, 124,W I Mott
11. Mystical Star (KY), J. Lezcano, 124, C Clement
12. Karlovy Vary (KY), C.J. Lanerie, 121, G R Arnold, II
13. Kitty in a Tizzy (KY), F.C. Torres, 124, H J Bond