Lady Joanne is headed toward the $250,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 30 following her impressive victory on Saturday in the $150,000-added Dogwood Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
“She’ll run good,” said trainer Carl Nafzger, referring to the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose. “Whether she can step up that extra class, that’s the whole deal.”
Potential rivals for the daughter of 2002 Eclipse Award sprint champion Orientate include Rags to Riches, the dominating winner of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
The Bentley L. Smith Revocable Trust's Lady Joanne (pronounced JOAN’-ee) came out of the Dogwood well and returned to the track on Sunday to jog a mile.
The Dogwood marked the third consecutive victory for Lady Joanne, with all of those wins coming at Churchill Downs. She won the Golden Rod (gr. II) last November to establish her credentials as a major contender for the Kentucky Oaks, but she was slower than expected in her return to training after winter break and the goal of running in the Oaks was shelved. She returned to racing with a six-furlong allowance victory at the Louisville track during Kentucky Derby Week and extended her winning streak to three with Saturday’s win.
Nafzger was impressed on Saturday by Lady Joanne's patience when jockey Calvin Borel had her in a pocket along the rail while awaiting a seam in traffic so he could launch her late bid. When the opportunity materialized, Borel swung Lady Joanne off the rail and she ran down High Again, winner of the Bonnie Miss (gr. II), in the final sixteenth and drew away to win by a length.
“I was surprised that she sat in that pocket that long without getting frustrated,” said Nafzger. “I was panicked when she was sitting in there. She’s not a filly that’s got to go to the lead, but she’s a free roller as the race unfolds.”
Nafzger’s filly improved her career record to 4-0-2 in six races and lifted her earnings to $312,634.