2008 Bewitch winner Communique is back to try again in 2009.

2008 Bewitch winner Communique is back to try again in 2009.

Pat Lang/Keeneland

Communique Out to Defend Bewitch Title

The Smart Strike mare will face seven rivals April 23.

G. Watts Humphrey’s homebred Communique makes a return trip to Keeneland April 23 to defend her Grey Goose Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) title, but will have all she can handle when facing Dress Rehearsal and Winter View, each coming off impressive marathon victories.

A field of eight was entered for the Bewitch, a 1 1/2-mile turf event for older fillies and mares. Post time is 4:35 p.m. EDT for Keeneland’s feature.
Communique will be reunited with Garrett Gomez, who was also aboard in 2008 when she scored by a half-length in the Bewitch. The daughter of Smart Strike went on to take the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) and then finish a solid second in the grade I Beverly D. Stakes later in her 3-year-old campaign, both on Arlington Park’s turf course. In her only start this year she was never a factor when finishing last in the March 14 Hillsborough (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Communique, the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Martinque. She has produced a 4-4-3 record from 19 lifetime starts with earnings of $559,134 and is trained by Rusty Arnold, who as of April 21 was tied with Shug McGaughey for most wins (six) at the Keeneland spring meet.
Swettenham Stud’s Dress Rehearsal was installed as the 8-5 favorite and assigned top weight of 122 pounds based on her decisive 2 3/4-length triumph in the March 22 Orchid (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, also at 12 furlongs. One month prior to that, Dress Rehearsal finished runner-up in the Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the same course, Both times she was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who will get the mount once more in the Bewitch.
A 4-year-old Galileo filly, Dress Rehearsal made her American debut in January at Tampa Bay when taking an allowance test on the grass for new trainer Bill Mott. She spent her first two seasons racing in Europe.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard will send George Strawbridge Jr.’s homebred Winter View out for her stakes debut just two and a half weeks after she scored in a 12-furlong allowance race at Keeneland under Julien Leparoux. The 5-year-old Thunder Gulch mare appeared to relish the extra ground, as it was her first time in 19 lifetime starts going more than 10 furlongs. Leparoux, Keeneland’s leading rider, will get the mount once again.
The other stakes winners in the field are Absolutely Cindy, who won the John Battaglia Memorial against the males in March of 2008 at Turfway Park; and German-bred Caprice, winner of the La Zanzara Handicap at Santa Anita Park in February.

$150,000 Grey Goose Bewitch (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Winter View (KY), 118, Julien Leparoux
2. Russian Rosie (IRE), 118, John Velazquez
3. Favorite Fantasy (KY), 118, Tony Farina
4. Empiress (KY), 118, Gabriel Saez
5. Caprice (GER), 118, Edgar Prado
6. Absolutely Cindy (KY), 118, Corey Lanerie
7. Communique (KY), 118, Garrett Gomez
8. Dress Rehearsal, 122, Kent Desormeaux