Likely Last Start for Venerable Mare Lilah

(from Gulfstream Park report)
Barry Ostrager and Roddy Valente's venerable 9-year-old mare Lilah makes what will most likely be her final start Saturday in the $100,000 First Lady Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.

Shannon Uske has been Lilah's rider off and on in recent seasons and gets the call in the six-furlong dash for trainer Allen Jerkens. Plans call for Lilah to be bred to Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown  this spring. She goes into the First Lady with a record of 39-13-9-4 and earnings of $510,000.

Lilah, a Florida-bred daughter of Defrere bred by Jerkens' longtime client Hobeau Farm, was claimed for $100,000 in late June at Belmont by the current owners. They sent her back to Jerkens not long after that.

The popular mare has won five of 12 starts over the old and new main-track surfaces at Gulfstream, including a wire-to-wire score in the Hurricane Bertie Handicap (gr. III) in her last appearance in March. She also has two seconds and a third.

Lilah finished third with a stalking trip last out in the seven-furlong Chaposa Springs Handicap at Calder on Dec. 31 after a come-from-behind tally in the six-furlong Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 3.

Lilah faces several highly accomplished rivals in the field of nine fillies and mares entered in the First Lady, including John Murphy Sr.'s Trickle of Gold and Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Maddalena. The talented 4-year-old fillies finished one-two in the Safely Kept Handicap (gr. III) at Laurel Park on Oct. 16.

Jockey Jeremy Rose gets a return call on Trickle of Gold for trainer Michael Gorham after the homebred daughter of Murphy's handicap star Formal Gold finished eighth in Santa Anita's La Brea Stakes (gr. I). The race was over a 'wet fast' track that she obviously did not handle on New Year's Eve.

Prior to that race, Trickle of Gold had won her last six starts in a row at Laurel and Delaware Park, including a stakes at each track before shipping to South Florida for the winter.

Maddalena hasn't run since the Safely Kept when she finished three lengths behind Trickle of Gold as the favorite. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the daughter of Good and Tough won her first three career starts, including the Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream last winter. Jockey John Velazquez will be aboard.

Two others with a solid chance are Susan and John Moore's 5-year-old mare Smokey Glacken, the 5-2 morning line favorite trained by Jimmy Jerkens, and Live Oak Plantation's 6-year-old mare Kuanyan, who is trained by Marty Wolfson..

$100,000 First Lady Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, 4:44 p.m.), fillies & mares 4 & up, 6 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Lilah (KY), Shannon Uske, 115, 8/1
2. Toll Taker (IL), Cornelio H. Velasquez, 112, 20/1
3. Maddalena (MD), John R. Velazquez, 117, 6/1
4. So Much More (KY), Kristi L. Chapman, 113, 30/1
5. Ender's Sister (KY), Mike E. Smith, 112, 12/1
6. Trickle of Gold (KY), Jeremy Rose, 117, 31/
7. Lunachick (MD), Shaun Bridgmohan, 113, 4/1
8. Smokey Glacken (KY), Javier Castellano, 117, 5/2
9. Kuanyan (KY), Eddie Castro, 116, 10/1