Pomeroys Pistol, winner of the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year, is the slight favorite among a field of 10 sophomore fillies in the $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) May 6 at Churchill Downs.
The seven-furlong main track event, which also drew Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Arienza, is the eighth race on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. The Eight Belles is set for a 3:02 p.m. EDT probable post.
Hardacre Farm homebred Pomeroys Pistol, trained by Amy Tarrant, is the lone graded stakes winner in the field and is the 3-1 morning line choice. The Florida-bred daughter of Pomeroy captured the seven-furlong Forward Gal in her seasonal debut Jan. 30 by three-quarters of a length. After vying for the lead and opening up by 3 1/2 lengths mid-stretch, she outlasted Dancinginherdreams while drifting a bit the final stages.
She has had one start since, giving up the lead to R Heat Lightning and fading to third in Gulfstream's one-mile Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 26. Pomeroys Pistol, carrying top weight of 120 pounds, drew post 3 and will be ridden for the first time by Rajiv Maragh.
Arienza, a Giant's Causeway filly out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, was no match for Oaks favorite Joyful Victory when beaten by seven lengths in Oaklawn Park's Fantasy April 10. That was just the third start for Arienza, and trainer Daniel Peitz opted for the Eight Belles instead of pursuing his original goal in the Oaks. She is 4-1 on the early line.
Robert and Lawana Low's chestnut filly, an $800,000 Keeneland yearling, won the first two starts of her career impressively, including a one-mile optional claiming test over a wet-fast Oaklawn strip March 27. Ramon Dominguez, who rode Arienza in the Fantasy, gets the return call and they will break from the rail.
Also getting respect from the linemaker is Holiday Flare (9-2), Honey Chile (5-1) and Home Sweet Aspen (8-1).
Holiday Flare is a Florida-bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday owned by Lets Go Stable and Starlight Partners and trained by Todd Pletcher. She's making her stakes debut in the Eight Belles.
A $400,000 2-year-old, Holiday Flare is coming off back-to-back wins over state-bred company at Gulfstream, beginning with a maiden victory in March and followed by a smart 3 1/2-length front-running score over a first-level allowance field at six furlongs April 2.
Peachtree Stable homebred Honey Chile has had one start in 2011, finishing five lengths behind Turbulent Descent while second in Keeneland's seven-furlong Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack April 17. Wayne Catalano trains the Florida-bred daughter of Invisible Ink.
Jenny Craig's homebred Home Sweet Aspen is making her first start against winners following a 2 1/2-length tally over maidens at Santa Anita in the second start of her career March 12. Trained by John Sadler, the California-bred Candy Ride offspring retains the services of jockey Joel Rosario.
$100,000 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 3:02 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Arienza (KY), R A Dominguez, 116, D C Peitz, 4/1
2. Home Sweet Aspen (KY), J Rosario, 116, J W Sadler, 8/1
3. Pomeroys Pistol (FL), R Maragh, 120, A Tarrant, 3/1
4. Holiday Flare (FL), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher, 9/2
5. Mysterious Chimes (KY), J K Court, 116, B Chatters, 20/1
6. Formal Plan (CA), C H Borel, 116, J Tooley, 50/1
7. Honey Chile (FL), J Lezcano, 116, W M Catalano, 5/1
8. Victoria's Wildcat (KY), K J Desormeaux, 118, R B Hess Jr., 12/1
9. Angelica Zapata (KY), M Pedroza, 116, R Pellegrini, 30/1
10. Dr. Diamonds Prize (KY), E S Prado, 116, M Hubley, 20/1