Seven of the eight fillies and mares signed up for the Oct. 3 First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland will be trying to get back on the winning track in the $400,00 one-mile turf contest.
The cast is headed by the speedy juvenile filly champion of 2006, Dreaming of Anna, a $2-million earner seeking to rebound from a pacesetting fourth-place finish in August’s Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at her Arlington Park home base. The Wayne Catalano trainee has scored in a trio of grade III events this season, and has finished one-two in 11 of 12 lifetime turf starts, including eight victories.
Owned by Frank Calabrese, Dreaming of Anna last appeared at Keeneland a year ago, when she ran second after setting all the fractions in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) to Bit of Whimsy. The cutback to a mile should help the speedy daughter of Rahy, who certainly figures to be out on the early pace once again.
Another Beverly D. graduate, Precious Kitten, hopes to improve on her fifth-place finish at Arlington after tracking Dreaming of Anna most of the way. The Bobby Frankel pupil has lacked her usual consistency this season, winning the Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park in between fifth-place efforts, including last April’s Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) at Keeneland. Precious Kitten has earned better than $1.6 million racing initially for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and now for Lael Stables.
The winner of that running of the Jenny Wiley, Rutherienne, is also a top-class entrant for trainer Christophe Clement. However, she has rolled a quartet of third-place finishes since the Wiley, all in graded stakes, and most recently behind the ultra-tough Wait a While in the Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga. Rutherienne runs as a homebred in the colors of Virginia Kraft Payson.
The only winner of her last race in this field is Roshani, who took the Galorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico last May. Todd Pletcher sends her out for her first try in grade I company off the layoff for owner Ben McElroy. Roshani finished fourth in the previously-mentioned Jenny Wiley, only a half-length off Rutherienne at the wire. Both she and Rosinka, sent out by trainer Graham Motion, will have to step up and run the race of their life to make an impact on this ultra-tough field. Rosinka ran ninth in the Beverly D. in her first foray into grade I company.
Forever Together won the grade I Diana Stakes over soft going at Saratoga two races back for Jonathan Sheppard. The off-the-pace runner will be hoping for hot fractions up front to set up her late charge.
Stormy West, who won the Caress Stakes at Belmont Park in June, will need to have a career-best day to defeat this cast for Bill Mott. Bayou’s Lassie could provide pace pressure for Dreaming of Anna, but she has faded markedly in her last four efforts this year.
The field for The First Lady, in post position order with riders (all will carry 123 pounds):
1) Precious Kitten (Rafael Bejarano)
2) Dreaming of Anna (Rene Douglas)
3) Rutherienne (Garrett Gomez)
4) Roshani (John Velazquez)
5) Bayou’s Lassie (Robby Albarado)
6) Forever Together (Julien Leparoux)
7) Rosinka (Jeremy Rose)
8) Stormy West (Kent Desormeaux)