While 2009 juvenile champion filly She Be Wild tops the eight-horse field for the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 3 at Keeneland, Negligee looks more than prepared to give her a run for the money.
The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland, which is the last major prep for Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) hopefuls, is the ninth race on a 10-race card and is scheduled for a 5:20 p.m. EST post time.
Trained by Wayne Catalano, She Be Wild won four of five starts during her 2009 championship campaign, which culminated with a three-quarter length victory in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last October at Santa Anita. Her lone defeat of 2009 came at Keeneland last fall when she finished second behind her nemesis Negligee in the Darley Alcibiades (gr. I).
She Be Wild is owned by Nancy Mazzoni, who co-bred the filly in Kentucky with her husband, Mike. The dark bay daughter of Offlee Wild enters the Ashland off a disappointing fifth-place effort in her 2010 debut, the Jan. 31 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. Jose Lezcano will be aboard She Be Wild for the first time in the Ashland and will break from post 5.
The Ashland will mark the first start of Negligee’s 3-year-old campaign. Owned by Matt Gatsas’ New Hampshire-based Sovereign Stable, Negligee closed 2009 with a sixth-place finish behind She Be Wild in the Juvenile Fillies. Rajiv Maragh has the mount on Negligee, who will break from post 3.
Negligee posted a bullet work March 24, covering five furlongs in 1:00.50. Later that afternoon, the daughter of Northern Afleet was sent to Keeneland, where she worked four furlongs in :49 3/5 March 30 in her final preparation for the Ashland.
“We feel like she’s a grade I filly, and is as good a 3-year-old filly as there is in the country, but we’re about to find that out," Gatsas said of Negligee, who was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm. "She’s competitive, and she’s the only horse to beat She Be Wild (during her championship season). So our thought process is that she deserves shots like this."
A third runner from last year’s Alcibiades in the Ashland field is Peter Callahan’s Beautician. Trained by Ken McPeek, Beautician finished fifth in the Alcibiades after a nightmarish trip. Robby Albarado has the riding assignment in the Ashland and will break from post 4.
Despite her unfortunate finish in the Alcibiades, Beautician has placed in four graded stakes, including two in grade I company: the Spinaway behind Hot Dixie Chick and in the Juvenile Fillies behind She Be Wild.
In her 2010 debut on March 13 at Oaklawn, Beautician finished second in the March 13 Honeybee (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.
“She’s doing very well and she had her last work at Oaklawn last Friday (1:00.80 for five furlongs, third-best of 23 at the distance),” McPeek said.
Upperline enters the Ashland with a race record that shows versatility in her two wins in six starts. Last year, the Maria's Mon filly was second to She Be Wild in the Top Flight Stakes on Polytrack at Arlington Park. She then broke her maiden against males over Keeneland’s Polytrack, after which she ran third in the Golden Rod (gr. II) on dirt at Churchill Downs.
“We know she likes (Keeneland’s) surface,” said trainer Mike Stidham, referring to Upperline’s victory at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack last October. “We felt like this was a good time to take a shot at a grade I, coming off the two good races at Gulfstream.”
“She’s pretty easy to deal with,” Stidham said about Upperline, who will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and will break from post 1 in the Central Bank Ashland. “In her works, she’s pretty easy to do what you need to do with her. She’s got a really good disposition.”
Stidham owns Upperline in partnership with Arthur Hancock III’s Stone Farm, John Adger, and Jack Hodge’s Oak Crest Farm.
Also worth consideration in the Ashland is Shug McGaughey trainee Protesting. McGaughey, who has saddled the winner of the Ashland Stakes three times, decided Protesting was ready for the race following a sharp work March 28 at Gulfstream Park, when she covered four furlongs in :47.50.
“We had been planning on the Ashland, but if she hadn’t worked well, we would have gone in another direction,” said McGaughey. “She broke her maiden here last fall and her family says Polytrack. She is a half to (grade II winner) Parading.”
Parading won the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland last spring and was second in the Fayette (gr. II) on closing day of the 2009 Fall Meet.
Protesting, who galloped Wednesday morning at Keeneland, has had two starts this year at Gulfstream Park, finishing fourth in both.
Javier Castellano, who rode Protesting in her most recent start, has the call April 3 for McGaughey.
Rounding out the Ashland field are graded stakes-placed Evening Jewel and Apple Charlotte, and maiden winner It’s Tea Time. All starters carry 121 pounds.
$400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:20 p.m. EST), 3YO fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack), All carry 121 pounds
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Upperline, S Bridgmohan, M Stidham
2. It's Tea Time, A Garcia, G R Arnold, II
3. Negligee, R Maragh, J P Terranova, II
4. Beautician, R Albarado, K G McPeek
5. She Be Wild, J Lezcano, W M Catalano
6. Apple Charlotte, C S Nakatani, H G Motion
7. Protesting, J Castellano, C R McGaughey III
8. Evening Jewel, K J Desormeaux, J M Cassidy