Pocahontas is a Big Step for Belle of Perintown

A racing adage holds that no one is a pessimist if they have a 2-year-old in the barn. Place Eddie Kenneally among the ranks of optimists.

He has a young filly in his care named Belle of Perintown -- and she is taking big steps forward at a most opportune time.

Belle of Perintown, a daughter of Dehere owned by Ken Mahler and Jamie Schloss, scored an impressive maiden win in her most recent outing at Keeneland on Oct. 5. She will get a chance to show just how much she has improved on Saturday when she is scheduled to compete in the $100,000-added Pocahontas Stakes. Kenneally's filly won in her fifth career start and he likes the way she has come around in the autumn of her juvenile season.

"I think the last two months she has really gotten better," said Kenneally. "She ran a good race at Keeneland and I think she beat some decent fillies that day. The timing is good for this race on Saturday. She's had a whole month between races and I think she'll benefit from that."

Souris, the 9-5 morning line favorite, is the high weight at 121 pounds in the Pocahontas, which attracted a field of eight.

Belle of Perintown opened her career with a third place finish in a Churchill Downs maiden race on June 16, then threw in the only poor effort of her career when she struggled home 10th against similar company on July 7. Kenneally added blinkers for her next two starts at Arlington Park -- runner-up finishes at 5 1/2-furlongs and one mile -- and then removed that piece of equipment for her victory in Lexington.

"We put the blinkers on her just to get her a little focused," he said. "She has matured nicely now and I don't think she needs them anymore."

Mahler and Schloss purchased Belle of Perintown at a 2-year-old in training sale at Calder Race Course in February. Kenneally has always thought highly of the filly and is pleased with to see that faith being justified.

"I was surprised actually that it took her so long to break her maiden," he said. "We were just a little unlucky in some of the maiden races that she finished second in this summer."

The Pocahontas has been won in recent years by such fillies as Unbridled Elaine, who won the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at 3, and multiple stakes winner The Happy Hopper. Saturday's 34th running of the one-mile race appears to present Belle of Perintown with a good opportunity to take another step forward. Of the fillies considered as likely starters in Saturday's race only Souris, winner of Arlington's Top Flight Stakes and the third-place finisher in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII), has significant experience in stakes company.

"We don't necessarily think we're in the same league as some of the previous fillies that have won this race, but we're on the improve and this particular race looks like a good spot for her right now. The distance is ideal, she raced over this track in the springtime and ran well. This is our home base and we want to give it a shot."

$100,000 Pocahontas Stakes, one mile, 2-year-old fillies
1 Youcan'ttakeme (WA), Robby Albarado, 118
2 Miss Listo (KY), Donnie J. Meche, 116
3 Belle of Perintown (KY), Mark Guidry, 116
4 Red Cell (KY), Shane J. Sellers, 116
5 Star of Atticus (KY), Lonnie Meche, 116
6 Souris (KY), Corey J. Lanerie, 121
7 Female Accomplice (KY), William D. Troilo, 116
8 Holiday Lady (KY), Pat Day, 116