May 26, 2024

Competitive renewal of First Lady on tap at Keeneland

Dickinson (left) prevails over Lady Eli (right) in Keeneland's Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) with Paco Lopez aboard on Saturday, April 15, 2017 (c) Keeneland/Coady Photography

A well-matched group of seven fillies and mares have been entered to go a mile on the turf at Keeneland in Saturday’s $400,000 First Lady Stakes (G1).

The contest is a “Win & You’re In” Challenge race and offers an all-fees paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) on November 4 at Del Mar to the First Lady winner.

Dickinson already boasts three graded wins this year, including the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) at Keeneland from the spring meet. The Kiaran McLaughlin pupil also captured the Hillsborough Stakes (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and the Suwannee River Stakes (G3) earlier this season with the returning Paco Lopez aboard.

Dickinson hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since taking the April 15 Jenny Wiley, returning on June 10 at Belmont Park to be third by only three parts of a length in the Just a Game Stakes (G1). The Medaglia d’Oro five-year-old faded to fifth next out in the Diana Stakes (G1), but rebounded to be second in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) most recently on August 26 at Saratoga. She held the re-opposing Roca Rojo to third by a neck that day and won’t have to contend with star filly Lady Eli in this contest.

Dona Bruja is currently 10-3-0 from 13 career starts, including a Group 1 score in her native Argentina. Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, the five-year-old mare rode a three-race win streak into her U.S. debut on June 10 at Churchill Downs and extended it to four straight victories when taking the Mint Julep Handicap (G3) there under Declan Cannon. The jockey remained in Dona Bruja’s saddle for her fifth straight triumph next out in the Modesty Handicap (G3) at Arlington Park on July 8, and the duo just missed by a half-length in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) most recently on August 12. Cannon once again takes the reins on the Storm Embrujado mare Saturday.

Hawksmoor didn’t do as well as Dona Bruja in the Beverly D., retreating to finish seventh after briefly leading in the lane. The Arnaud Delacour charge entered that contest off a pair of graded scores at Belmont Park in the Beaugay Stakes (G3) and New York Stakes (G2). Those also counted as the Azamour filly’s first U.S. wins as she ran third by a neck in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland and sixth in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs to kick off her time stateside last year. Hawksmoor, winner of the 2016 German One Thousand Guineas (Ger-G2), keeps Julien Leparoux aboard for the First Lady.

Roca Rojo made her racing bow in Ireland, capturing her first two starts by a combined 10 lengths, and then was shipped stateside. The Strategic Prince mare joined Chad Brown’s barn and would go on to sandwich a nose second in the Matriarch Stakes (G1) between wins in the Athenia Stakes (G3) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2). That latter contest kicked off Roca Rojo’s five-year-old campaign, but she hasn’t been able to find the winner’s circle in two starts since. Most recently third in the Ballston Spa, the Irish-bred mare gets Javier Castellano in the irons here to help her chances of getting her photo taken.

Zipessa earned her only stakes victory to date taking the Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes (G3) on Independence Day 2016 at Parx Racing for trainer Michael Stidham. The five-year-old daughter of City Zip has made eight starts since and gone unplaced only three times. In two of those other five races, the Kentucky-bred chestnut just missed by a nose in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (G3) and a neck in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3). Both of those came this season, and the latter contest was won by multiple Grade 1 queen Miss Temple City. Joe Bravo was aboard for the Kentucky Downs effort and retains the mount in this spot.

Delectation is the only three-year-old in the field and makes her U.S. debut in the First Lady for trainer Andreas Wohler. The bay daughter of Delegator was last seen on September 10 romping by 3 1/2 lengths in the Grosse Europa Meile (Ger-G3) at Dusseldorf under Eduardo Pedroza. That rider was also aboard for Delectation’s season-opening win in the Karin Baronin von Ullmann-Schwarzgold-Rennen (Ger-G3) at Koln in April and makes the trip stateside to pilot the filly once again.

Stakes winner One Liz, a neck second against allowance/optional claiming rivals last out on August 27 at Arlington Park, completes the First Lady field.