Thursday, November 15, 2012
Centre Court heads Mrs. Revere
Centre Court, who developed into one of the nation's leading three-year-old grass fillies over the summer after belatedly breaking her maiden during the Churchill Downs spring meet, returns to that venue for Saturday's Grade 2, $175,000 Mrs. Revere. Although she will have to face 11 rivals, Centre Court figures to be a strong favorite in the 1 1/16-mile test that highlights the lone "Downs After Dark" program of the Fall Meet.
After graduating last May in her fourth career start, Centre Court bypassed allowance company and jumped right into stakes company with great success. A one-length winner of the Grade 3 Regret in her first added-money attempt, the Smart Strike filly moved on to Saratoga and landed a roughly-run edition of the Grade 2 Lake George. Stephanie's Kitten, who arguably endured the worst of it in the Lake George, rebounded to beat Centre Court by a half-length in the Grade 2 Lake Placid next time.
In her most recent start, Centre Court finished second, beaten two lengths, in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, a paceless affair Dayatthespa stole on the front end. Centre Court will be reunited Saturday with former Kentucky mainstay Julien Leparoux, who's recently shifted his tack to Southern California.
The top three finishers from the second division of the Grade 3 Valley View Keeneland will renew rivalry in the Mrs. Revere. Miz Ida extended her stakes win streak to three when downing English Class by a neck in the Valley View, with Grade 3 Pucker Up winner Leading Astray a length farther back in third.
Two fillies -- Colonial Flag and Volcat -- exit the first Valley View division. Colonial Flag, who was runner-up to Centre Court in the Regret and later captured the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen, endured a wide trip in the Valley View and wound up fifth as the 5-2 favorite. Grade 3 Virginia Oaks heroine Volcat, who later missed by a neck in the Pucker Up, set the early pace in that Keeneland feature before retreating to ninth.
Peace Preserver enters the Mrs. Revere off a blowout 6 1/2-length score in the October 8 Pebbles at Belmont Park, contested on yielding ground. Peace Preserver had previously placed in overnight stakes at Monmouth Park and Saratoga run under firm conditions.
Somali Lemondade has placed in four of seven starts this term, including a head second to Irish classic winner Samitar in the Grade 1 Garden City. However, the Michael Matz trainee has not registered a victory since taking the Grade 3 Jessamine 13 months ago.
Regalo Mia, who remains eligible for a first-level allowance, has placed in five straight stakes on turf. Among these were photo-finish losses in the Grade 2 Sands Point, Grade 3 Herecomesthebride and Florida Oaks.
A full field of 14 three-year-olds, plus two also-eligibles, were entered for the Grade 3, $100,000 Commonwealth Turf at 1 1/16 miles. The highly contentious group includes several veterans of the October 13 Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby, which was run in a rainstorm on soft ground.
Pulling off the 20-1 upset of the Hawthorne Derby was the Jim Toner-trained Two Months Rent, who had not shown a whole lot previously in stakes company. Completing the longshot exacta was the Bill Mott pupil Film Shot, a son of noted grass mare Film Maker, with 3-1 favorite Lea a non-threatening third after falling far behind the pace early.
Up the track at Hawthorne but returning for the Commonwealth Turf are Grade 3 veteran Finale and Quick Wit, who landed the off-the-turf Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga in August.
King David registered one of the bigger upsets of the season in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap on October 6, prevailing by a half-length at 28-1. The Hat Trick colt entered that Belmont fixture on a four-race win streak, all in claiming company. The Jamaica was the colt's first start for trainer Mike Maker, who had haltered the Kentucky-bred for $35,000 the previous month.
Others of note include Lockout, a winner over older horses in the Remington Green last out; Finnegans Wake, who placed in the Grade 1 Secretariat and Grade 2 Virginia Derby over the summer; Skyring, a grass stakes winner at Pimlico who ran a close second in the Grade 3 Saranac two back; and Grade 1-placed Excaper, whose second-place finish in the Grade 3 Kent last time put him ahead of third-placer Two Months Rent.