Beau Dare, who has flashed great promise on the turf and the new polytrack surface, takes on graded stakes winners French Park and She Says It Best in the $200,000-added Golden Rod Stakes (GII) Saturday at Churchill Downs.Unbeaten French Park won the Pocahontas (gr. III) Nov. 5 over the Churchill main track while She Says It Best captured the Darley Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Six other 2-year-old fillies contest the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod.Walts David Stable's Beau Dare is the narrow 5-2 morning line favorite for the Golden Rod. The daughter of Military romped to an easy 6 ½-length victory in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies over the polytrack surface at Turfway Park on Sept. 17. She followed that win with a narrow three-quarter length loss to J'ray in the Jessamine County on the Keeneland turf. Beau Dare was wide throughout that day. J'ray returned last week to win the $125,000-added Selima on the Laurel Park turf.Veteran trainer Robert Holthus, who saddled Kota for a runner-up finish to Runway Model in last year's renewal, will bid for his first Golden Rod victory with Beau Dare.
"The main reason we're running her on the dirt is to see what to do with her this winter," said Holthus. "If she can run on the dirt then we'll get her ready for Oaklawn. If not, we'll give her more time and get ready for next spring on the grass."Jockey Rafael Bejarano, the leading rider in Churchill Downs' fall meet, will ride Beau Dare for the first time.Stevestan Stable's French Park, a gray/roan daughter of Ecton Park trained by Helen Pitts, is the 3-1 second choice in the Golden Rod. She scored a 1 ¾-length victory in the one-mile Pocahontas, a win that followed a 12 ¼-length victory in her Oct. 20 racing debut at Keeneland. The Golden Rod will be French Park's first attempt to navigate a two-turn distance. Mark Guidry will be aboard French Park, who will carry 122 pounds and break from post three. She has earned $105,997 in her two races. She Says It Best, owned by a partnership headed by Carl Bowling and trainer Vickie Foley, is the most accomplished member of the Golden Rod field and will try to atone for a disappointing run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in her most recent start. A front-running victory in the Darley Alcibiades earned She Says It Best a trip to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup, but the usually speedy filly stumbled at the start and struggled home ninth in the field of 10.
Foley said a post-race examination revealed that She Says It Best had suffered a bout with pulmonary bleeding during that race."She got nervous," said Foley. "She just didn't handle it, which was surprising to me because she's always been a pretty calm filly."The daughter of Stormy Atlantic has had a pair of workouts since she returned to her home track and has displayed no signs of further bleeding, Foley said. Regular rider Eddie Martin, Jr. will be aboard She Says It Best, who will carry 122 pounds and will break from post eight. She has a career record of 4-1-0 in seven races, has earned $338,478, and is the 4-1 third choice in Battaglia's morning line. $200,000-added Golden Rod (gr. II), 2-yar-old fillies, 1 1/6 miles
PP. Horse (weight), Jockey, ML Odds
1. Beau Dare (122), Rafael Bejarano, 5-2
2. Magnificent Song (116), Robby Albarado, 10-1
3. French Park (122), Mark Guidry, 3-1
4. Dance Daily (118), John Jacinto, 15-1
5. Lady Danza (118), Brice Blanc, 15-1
6. Giant Commander (113), John McKee, 20-1
7. Tiztimetokinect (116), Shaun Bridgmohan, 8-1
8. She Says It Best (122), Eddie Martin, Jr., 4-1
9. Sabatini (116), Gary Stevens, 9-2