Champion Caressing has recovered from an illness and is being returned to training.

Champion Caressing has recovered from an illness and is being returned to training.

Alexander Barkoff

Caressing to Return to Training

Caressing, the Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly in 2000, will go back into training by the end of March, according to trainer David Vance. Winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (g. I), Caressing was scheduled to make her 2001 debut in the Honeybee (g. III) at Oaklawn Park March 10. However, she came down with a fever and a bad blood count, and went off her feed the week before the race.

Sent to Hagyard-Davidson-McGeee clinic near Lexington, Ky., for treatment, Caressing is doing well and her blood count is normal, according to Vance. Caressing is owned by Carl Pollard. Her connections are pointing Caressing toward the Kentucky Oaks (g. I) if all goes well.

The juvenile fillies division was one of the most wide open throughout 2000, and Caressing soared to the top echelon and an Eclipse Award with her half-length victory over Platinum Tiara in the Breeders' Cup.

Her veteran trainer was hopeful but not overly confident going into the Breeders' Cup. "She deserves to get into the race," he said at the time. "We're taking a shot, but so are a lot of other people. Nobody is scared of anyone in this race. She knows the track at Churchill. She works well over it, and it's her home base."

Caressing is by the leading first-crop sire of 2000, Honour and Glory, whose progeny had earned $1,436,584 through Dec. 31. Caressing's $690,642 in winnings for the year amounted to nearly half her sire's total. She is out of the stakes-winning mare Lovin Touch, who produced the stakes-winning Platinum Blonde in 1993. Caressing has already become the most successful offspring of Lovin Touch, who died last year while foaling a Cat's Career filly.