George Strawbridge Jr.’s Palmilla, the only graded stakes winner in an overflow field of 12 older fillies and mares, tops the wide open $150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 19.
A 1 1/2-mile event on the turf, the Dowager drew a diverse field of routers from all over the world, as seven of the 12 going to post have racing experience overseas. Brushed Gold and Queendom made it on the also-eligible list.
Palmilla, who was bred in Pennsylvania by Strawbridge, earned her graded stakes when she took the Robert Dick Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park July 12. Since then, the 5-year-old Crowd Pleaser mare missed by a neck in the grade III Glen Falls Handicap at Saratoga. Most recently, she may have been a bit overmatched when finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) Sept. 27 on Belmont’s yielding turf course.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Palmilla has produced a 4-4-1 record from 15 career starts. She is out of the Allen’s Prospect mare Got a Crush. The bay has finished off the board in two starts at Keeneland and adds Kent Desormeaux as a rider for the first time.
Strawbridge and Sheppard sent out Omeya to win the Dowager in 2007.
One of the European-bred rivals with a good chance is Northern Bloodstock’s Herboriste. Bred in England, Herboriste began her career racing in France and was shipped to the states in 2007 after winning one of six starts overseas. Though the 5-year-old daughter of Hernando has scored just once in 11 starts since coming to the U.S., she does have four runner-up finishes for trainer Michael Matz, including bridesmaid efforts in her last three. Herboriste was 3 1/2 lengths back of Palmilla in the Robert Dick.
Most recently, Herboriste was beaten a neck in the Sept. 3 Cape Henlopen Stakes on the Delaware grass. She is the lone starter in the Dowager with a victory over the Keeneland turf. That came last fall in allowance company. Julien Leparoux will get the mount for the first time.
Matz will also saddle Helen Groves’ Tejida, a 5-year-old Rahy mare who has been close to capturing a graded stakes twice this season. In her second race of the year Tejida was beaten a neck by Mauralakana in the Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) and one start later in the Bewitch (gr. IIIT) she led in deep stretch before being collared by Communique by a half-length. Most recently, Tejida was sixth in the Glen Falls.
Though she was bred in Kentucky, Oh Glory Be made the first 13 starts of her career in England and won twice. She was shipped to the U.S. earlier this year after being purchased for more than $300,000 by Fred Seitz. Seitz, who also took over training duties, saw her run last in the Robert Dick during her North American debut. Last time out in the 12-furlong Flaming Page Stakes she ran second to Lickety Lemon at Woodbine.
German-bred Caprice, trained by Graham Motion, also deserves consideration. The 5-year-old was beaten only a neck in the 1 1/2-mile Claire Marine Stakes--her American stakes debut Sept. 13 at Arlington Park.
$150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes (Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 3 and Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Furusato (KY), 120, Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
2. Palmilla (PA), 122, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Solva (GB), 120, Jesus Lopez Castanon
4. You Dancing Devil (IL), 120, Corey J. Lanerie
5. Tejida (KY), 120, Javier Castellano
6. Almonsoon (KY), 120, Rene R. Douglas
7. Oh Glory Be (KY), 120, Robby Albarado
8. Herboriste (GB), 120, Julien R. Leparoux
9. Viva La Flag (KY), 120, John R. Velazquez
10. Monte Crystal (PER), 122, Aldo Canchano
11. Arundel (KY), 120, Calvin H. Borel
12. Caprice (GER), 120, Jeremy Rose
AE Brushed Gold (KY), 120, Rene R. Douglas
AE Queendom (KY), 120, Calvin H. Borel