Free as a Bird and Ageless, the one-two finishers in last year's Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes, are entered to meet again Oct. 9 at Keeneland in the 2015 running of the $100,000 event. The 5 1/2-furlong test on the grass has drawn a field of nine older fillies and mares. Keeneland, Friday, October 09, 2015, Race 9
Both Free as a Bird and Ageless are 6-year-olds who have excelled in the turf sprint arena and both own wins over the local turf.
Elizabeth Valando's Free as a Bird topped Ageless a year ago by 1 1/2 lengths. Free as a Bird, a daughter of Hard Spun , is trained by Ian Wilkes and has a hard-luck 2015 campaign with one win and three seconds from five starts. She was fourth as the favorite in the spring meet's turf sprint, the Giant's Causeway. Ageless was second in that race behind Katie's Eyes.
Ageless, owned by Roy Jackson's Lael Stables, has fared better this year with two wins, a second, and a third from four starts for trainer Arnaud Delacour. A winner of the five-furlong The Very One Stakes Preakness weekend at Pimlico Race Course, Ageless was third against males in Belmont Park's Jaipur Stakes (gr. IIIT) in June and won the Royal North Stakes (Can-IIIT) going six furlongs July 26 at Woodbine.
Bred by Hinkle Farms, Ageless is by Successful Appeal out of the Point Given mare Special One, who is from a Claiborne Farm family that has produced Zensational, Departing, and Trip.
Looking to break up the reunion will be Ranlo Investments' Lady Shipman, a 3-year-old daughter of Midshipman who has won four straight turf sprint stakes including a score over Free as a Bird last time Aug. 30 in Saratoga Race Course's Smart n Fancy Stakes.
Front-running Richies Sweetheart drew the rail and will be winging it from the start under E.T. Baird. Last time out she wired the field in the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap going five furlongs at Parx Racing.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Richies Sweetheart (IL) E. T. Baird 124 Larry Rivelli 6/1 2 2Sweet Nkosi (KY) Huber Villa-Gomez 120 Ryan D. Walsh 30/1 3 3Fleet Encounter (IL) Jose Valdivia, Jr. 120 Mark J. Cristel 20/1 4 4Lady Shipman (KY) Eduardo O. Nunez 122 Kathleen O'Connell 7/5 5 5Ageless (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 124 Arnaud Delacour 3/1 6 6Free as a Bird (KY) Joe Bravo 120 Ian R. Wilkes 4/1 7 7Ekati's Phaeton (KY) Florent Geroux 118 William I. Mott 15/1 8 8Elusive Holiday (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 118 Charles Lopresti 30/1 9 9Shrinking Violet (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 122 Wesley A. Ward 8/1
Keeneland, Friday, October 09, 2015, Race 9