Churchill Downs' $100,000-added Debutante Stakes (gr. III) has the makings of a family affair. Siblings Greg and Vickie Foley will saddle two of the major contenders in Sunday's importantearly test for 2-year-old fillies.
Big brother Greg will saddle the morning line favorite for the 5 1/2-furlong race in Bakster Farm's unbeaten Sweet Miss El, a daughter of Eltish whose two career victories include a romp in an allowance race at the Debutante distance. Vickie Foley is the trainer and co-owner of Jules Best, who ran a fast closing third in that race for an ownership group that also includes Carl Bowling, Robert Velotta and others. The Debutante attracted a field of nine fillies to highlight on a 12-race program on the next-to-last day of Churchill Downs' 53-day spring meet.
Sweet Miss El has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite. Foley purchased the Florida-bred filly from friend and fellow trainer Dale Romans after watching the filly work at Churchill Downs.
"I playingly asked 'Is that one for sale?'," said Foley. "And he said as a matter of fact, she is. Anyway, we wound up buying her and so far it's worked out good."
Regular jockey Rafael Bejarano will ride Sweet Miss El.
The Florida-bred Jules Best launched a strong stretch run to win her May 30 debut by a neck at odds of 31-1. She rallied to finish third to Sweet Miss El in her next race and Vickie Foley believes her filly wants more distance.
"If it had been going three-quarters she would have gotten up for second, but we weren't going to beat Greg's horse," she said, "But maybe next time."
Jockey Mark Guidry will ride Jules Best, who is a 10-1 risk in the morning line.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, locked in a three-way battle for the meet's "leading trainer" crown, will saddle Heiligbrodt Racing's Limitless Lady in the Debutante. Another Florida-bred, the daughter of Limit Out was an impressive winner in her lone start at 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland on April 23.
"She's a very talented filly, but she gives away a lot in experience," said Asmussen. "She's pretty green. We have some first-time starters that I think have caught on better than she has as far as what's expected of her, but she has a ton of talent."
Shane Sellers will ride Limitless Lady, who is listed at 4-1 in the Debutante's morning line.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who scored a record fifth Debutante win with Be Gentle in 2003, will saddle Robert and Beverly Lewis' Classic Elegance and Paragon Queen in this year's renewal. Classic Elegance, a daughter of Carson City, ran third to Lunarpal when she faced males in the Three Chimneys Juvenile last time out.
$100,000-added Debutante (gr. III), 2-year-old fillies, 5 1/2 furlongs
PP. Horse (Weight) Jockey ML Odds
1. Lisa's Cat (117) Larry Melancon 20-1
2. Jules Best (117) Mark Guidry 10-1
3. Paragon Queen (117) Daniel Coa 4-1
4. Im A Dixie Girl (115) John McKee 12-1
5. Sweet Miss El (119) Rafael Bejarano 3-1
6. Classic Elegance (117) Pat Day 7-2
7. Limitless Lady (117) Shane Sellers 4-1
8. Runway Model (117) Willie Martinez 8-1
9. Cool Spell (117) Cornelio Velasquez 12-1