Not only are the names Casse, Arnold, Brown, Motion, and McPeek important ones in the American training fraternity, but all have tasted success in Keeneland’s $150,000 Jessamine Stakes (G2) in the past decade.
Their barns, and other top ones, will seek to have one of their young fillies register a success in Wednesday’s renewal of the 1 1/16-mile turf test, with an automatic bid to next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) also on the line.
Mark Casse, who trained La Coronel to victory in the 2016 Jessamine, has one of the likely favorites in Spanish Loveaffair. A Karakontie half-sister to American Oaks (G1) winner Spanish Queen, Spanish Loveffair invades from Gulfstream where she won on debut by 11 lengths and followed up with a 1 1/4-length decision in the Sharp Susan S., both over one mile.
Rusty Arnold, who conditioned Concrete Rose two years ago, sends out the cleverly-named Navratilova, a G. Watts Humphrey Jr. homebred produced by Jenny Wiley (G1) heroine Centre Court. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro also won at first asking, overcoming a slow start and a modest pace to win going 5 1/2 furlongs at Ellis Park.
Chad Brown, who sent out Rushing Fall to win both the Jessamine and Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2017, goes with Ingrassia, who prevailed in the final strides of her Saratoga debut as a 1-2 favorite, while Graham Motion is represented by Batyah, who made up 10 lengths to win her Belmont debut by 2 1/4 lengths less than three weeks ago.
Kenny McPeek has won the Jessamine four times since 1992, but his Ellis graduate Lazy Summer Day figures to be cool in the betting compared to Aunt Pearl and Gambling Cat, first-out winners from the barns of Brad Cox and Mike Maker, respectively. Taylor’s Tourist is the one of the few stakes veterans in the field having finished a clear second in the 6 1/2-furlong Untapable S. at Kentucky Downs last month.