Quartet of Millionaires for Jenny Wiley

Quartet of Millionaires for Jenny Wiley
Photo: Benoit
Matriarch winner Precious Kitten makes her 2008 debut in the Jenny Wiley.
A long wait for the spring thaw and the return of top-level turf racing to Kentucky helped produce an extraordinarily tough group of 10 older fillies and mares for the $200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland April 12. Grade I winners Precious Kitten, Rutherienne, and Bit of Whimsy and the last two Canadian Horse of the Year winners, Arravale and Sealy Hill, account for half of the field.

The others aren't too shabby, either, led by multiple graded winner Lady of Venice and grade III victor Roshani in the 1 1/16-mile grass assignment. There are four millionaires ready to line up.

Bit of Whimsy kicks off her 2008 campaign for trainer Barclay Tagg as the 123-pound co-high weight in the Jenny Wiley. The 4-year-old Distorted Humor   filly, owned by Joyce B. Young and Gerald McManis, raised eyebrows with her smashing 2 1/4-length come-from-behind win over Dreaming of Anna in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. IT) over the Keeneland course Oct. 13. The chestnut filly wrapped up her season with a half-length triumph in Churchill Downs' Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT), also in strong closing stye, one month later.

Raced seven times as a sophomore, Bit of Whimsy won four and ran second twice while earning $551,533. She has been training at Gulfstream Park in forward fashion for her return, and will have regular pilot Javier Castellano aboard while breaking from post position 5.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's millionaire Precious Kitten is another returning to the turf wars after a nice rest. The 5-year-old homebred Catienus mare tortured the Southern California turf distaff ranks for trainer Bobby Frankel during the second half of 2007. In front-running style, she won the John C. Mabee (gr. IT) and Palomar (gr. IIT) handicaps at Del Mar during the summer, then wrapping up the year with a 1 1/4-length victory over Wait a While in Hollywood Park's Matriarch (gr. IT)  Nov. 25. She won more than $1 million in 2007 while first or second in eight of nine starts.

Precious Kitten, also assigned 123 for the Wiley, has her regular rider in Rafael Bejarano. She boasts a lifetime mark of 7-8-1 in 19 tries with earnings of $1,419,688 and placed second behind Vacare in Keeneland's one-mile First Lady (gr. IIT) in her only effort over the course last fall.

Virginia Kraft Payson's 4-year-old filly Rutherienne also makes her 2008 bow for trainer Christophe Clement after winning six of eight starts -- five of them consecutively in stakes -- as a sophomore. Her season was topped by a two-length win in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) in August. The dark bay daughter of Pulpit comes off a victory in the 7 1/2-furlong Frances A. Genter (gr. IIIT) on the Calder lawn Dec. 29.

Rutherienne, to be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who has experience with her, has won eight of 10 starts lifetime -- all on grass -- while banking $620,975.

The millionaire Arravale is a fourth grade I winner here, having captured the 2006 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) at Woodbine en route to Canadian Horse of the Year honors. Trained by MacDonald Benson for owner Robert J. Costigan, the 5-year-old Arch mare never approached that form in 2007. She was winless in five tries culminating in a seventh-place finish in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) on Monmouth Park's soft course Oct. 27. The Kentucky-bred Arravale, who has won five of 13 and earned $1,111,580 in her career, will once again have Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard.

Arravale's Canadian-based counterpart, Sealy Hill, makes her first start since giving way in the final strides to Mrs. Lindsay in the 2007 E.P. Taylor Oct. 21. Victories in the Canadian triple crown for fillies earlier in the year catapulted Eugene Melnyk's Ontario-bred daughter of Point Given   to her Horse of the Year award for trainer Mark Casse. The dark bay has earned $1,087,794 while winning six of 11 lifetime starts.

Lady of Venice, a 5-year-old French-bred mare owned by Martin Schwartz, won three of six starts and more than $835,000 in 2007 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, including the rich CashCall Mile (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park in July. The chestnut ran third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Precious Kitten, in the Matriarch, her last start. Lady of Venice is yet another millionaire in the field, having amassed earnings of $1,118,771 while winning seven of 13 lifetime.

The Todd Pletcher trainee Roshani tuned up for the Wiley with a 1 1/2-length allowance victory at one mile on the Santa Anita turf March 9, her first start since being placed second in the Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Meadowlands last September. She won Monmouth's Matchmaker (gr. IIIT) last August.

Swingit won her only start over the Keeneland course as a 2-year-old in the fall of 2006, taking the Jessamine County Stakes, and comes off a runner-up finish in the Bayou Handicap at Fair Grounds Feb. 23 for trainer Hal Wiggins.

Candy Ball won back-to-back stakes at Fair Grounds in her last two starts for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.

Stormy West claimed a one-mile allowance race on the Gulfstream turf by nearly two lengths last time out for Bill Mott.

$200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 6 April 12, 3:40 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Candy Ball (KY), 117, Jamie Theriot
2. Roshani (KY), 119, John R. Velazquez
3. Sealy Hill (ON), 117, Patrick Husbands
4. Rutherienne (KY), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Bit of Whimsy (KY), 123, Javier Castellano
6. Stormy West (KY), 117, Kent J. Desormeaux
7. Swingit (KY), 117, James Graham
8. Precious Kitten (KY), 123, Rafael Bejarano
9. Lady of Venice (FR), 119, Edgar S. Prado
10. Arravale (KY), 117, Jose Valdivia, Jr.

Most Popular Stories