Balanced Field to Battle in Spinster

The Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) may be lacking a true superstar among the distaff set like last year's runaway winner, Azeri, but it does have plenty of balance. Eleven fillies and mares passed the entry box Friday morning for Sunday's $500,000 grade I contest at Keeneland, the final stakes during the meet's rich Fallstars Allstars weekend.

Tamwell, who ran second to Azeri in last year's running, then ran a good fourth behind Ashado in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) makes a return visit to Keeneland and the daughter of Gulch will break from post 5. Other strong contenders in the field include Isola Piu Bella, Bending Strings, Capeside Lady, and Halory Leigh.

Tamwell is now trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden for the first time in the Spinster by Jerry Bailey. She'll be making only her third start of the year Sunday, and comes in off a third-place finish in the seven-furlong Steve Van Buren Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

Isola Piu Bella figures to be the Spinster favorite. Sumaya Us Stable's Chilean-bred was sharp earlier this year, winning graded stakes at Gulfstream Park and Hawthorne, but she has not started since putting in an uncharacteristic eighth-place performance in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 17. She has been training up to her return at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.

She was a four-time group I winner in her native Chile.

John Gunther's Bending Strings has yet to find the winner's circle this year, but has placed in three of six starts while facing top competition. The 4-year-old daughter of American Chance was second to Ashado in the Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga and was most recently fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She began her 2005 campaign in the seven-furlong Madison Stakes (gr. III) this April in her lone local effort.

So Madcapt Stable's Capeside Lady, by Cape Town, is also trained by Pletcher. She defeated Bending Strings by five lengths in the Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Monmouth in July, then tired to finish sixth after prompting the pace in the Ruffian.

Halory Leigh makes just her third start of the year in the Spinster for trainer Dale Romans. Owned by Jerry Crawford, Matt Gannon, and Charlie Grask, the 5-year-old mare by Halory Hunter rattled off back to back wins last fall in the Churchill Downs Distaff and Falls City Handicaps (both gr. II) in Louisville. She was a four-length winner of an allowance race over the track last October.

Winning Season will attempt to be the first 3-year-old to win the Spinster since Take Charge Lady in 2002. Overbrook Farm's daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  cruised to a seven-length allowance win over the Polytrack surface at Turfway Park Sept. 21. She is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who saddled Azeri last year and sent out 3-year-old filly Sacahuista in 1987.

Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I), $500,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, Sunday, Oct. 10, appox. Post 4:45 p.m., all carry 123 pounds except Winning Season (120)

PP - Horse - Jockey
1 - Pleasant Home - Cornelio Velasquez
2 - Santa Candida - Omar Berrio
3 - Bending Strings - Gary Stevens
4 - Winning Season - Mike Smith
5 - Tamweel - Jerry Bailey
6 - Isola Piu Bella - John Velazquez
7 - Pampered Princess - Eddie Castro
8 - Capeside Lady - Chris DeCarlo
9 - Go Girlfriend Go - John Jacinto
10 - Miss Fortunate - Larry Melancon
11 - Halory Leigh - Craig Perret