La Troienne S. (G1) — Race 6 (1:26 p.m. ET)
Shedaresthedevil, a star on the past two Kentucky Oaks Day programs and 5-for-5 in her career under the Twin Spires, will look to keep that impeccable record intact Friday in the $750,000 La Troienne S. (G1).
A surprise winner of the 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) (held in September that year) over champions Swiss Skydiver and Gamine, Shedaresthedevil enjoyed an excellent campaign at four last season. She counted the La Troienne among her four graded stakes wins, and also defeated eventual division champion Letruska in a thrilling renewal of the Azeri (G2).
However, Shedaresthedevil enters her title defense of the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne having lost her Azeri title on March 12, finishing third as the even-money favorite behind reigning female sprint champion Ce Ce.
Pauline’s Pearl, a two-time winner at Grade 3 level, appears the main challenger in the field of seven. Winner of the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) in her season debut in late January, Pauline’s Pearl was a rallying second in the Azeri after losing ground early following a troubled start.
Invading from New York is Battle Bling, who finished second in her last two starts at Aqueduct while recording back-to-back Brisnet speed ratings of 100 and 101.
Alysheba S. (G2) — Race 7 (2:09 p.m. ET)
Olympiad will look to extend his current win streak to four races in the $500,000 Alysheba S. (G2) over 1 1/16 miles. The Bill Mott-trained four-year-old is a rising star in the older dirt male ranks off consecutive stakes wins at Fair Grounds in the Mineshaft (G3), in which he set a new track record for 1 1/16 miles, and New Orleans Classic (G2).
Fulsome, whose three stakes wins last season included a 3 3/4-length score in the Matt Winn (G3) over the Churchill strip, is another up-and-comer. The Brad Cox-trained Juddmonte homebred rallied from 10 lengths down to win the April 2 Oaklawn Mile (G3) by a neck in his season debut.
Max Player and Happy Saver, the past two winners of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), faced each other twice last season. Max Player won both comfortably, first taking the Suburban (G2) at Belmont and then the re-located Gold Cup at Saratoga. While Max Player was the distant trailer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar following those wins, Happy Saver was a sharp second to Maxfield in the Clark (G1) over the Churchill strip in late November.
Eight Belles S. (G2) — Race 9 (4:04 p.m. ET)
A competitive renewal of the $500,000 Eight Belles S. (G2), a seven-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies, includes a clash between recent Beaumont (G3) romper Matareya and Gerrymander, who was last seen winning the Tempted S. at Aqueduct last November over a field that included Kentucky Oaks favorite Nest.
The quality cast also includes Grade 3 winner Pretty Birdie, who convincingly won the Purple Martin S. at Oaklawn in her season debut; Marissa’s Lady, a once-beaten daughter of Violence who dominated the sophomore filly sprint division at Turfway over the winter; and California shipper Ain’t Easy, who shortens up following a pair of disappointing runs in the Santa Ysabel (G3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G2).