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LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Michael McCarthy’s Speech will make her seasonal racing debut on familiar ground when she enters the gate for Friday’s $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
The Doubledogdare is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to fillies and mares ages 4 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 5:30 PM.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Doubledogdare:
1. Royal Flag 5/2 – She makes her first start of the year after ending 2020 with a strong 2 1/4-length victory in November’s 1 1/8-mile Turnbackthe Alarm Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, her first victory at the stakes ranks. Trainer Chad Brown (who won this race in 2019 with Electric Forest) will leg up jockey Joel Rosario, whose 10 wins at the meet (through Tuesday) include a leading 6 in stakes.
2. High Regard 20/1 – She makes her second start of the year after finishing a distant seventh in February’s Royal Delta Stakes (G3) in her first appearance after a nearly 3-month break. She won a pair of 1 1/16-mile Churchill Downs optional claiming routes last fall and reunites with Rafael Bejarano, aboard for both victories, but she’ll likely need a career-best effort to win her first stakes in her ninth try.
3. Graceful Princess 12/1 – Daughter of the legendary mare Havre de Grace, she unfortunately hasn’t stepped out of her mother’s Hall of Fame shadow yet, and her 3 straight fifth-place finishes to end 2020 didn’t help. Her first start since last December’s Go For Wand Handicap (G3) reunites her with jockey Luis Saez, whose lone prior trip aboard her was a 6 1/2-length romp at this distance last April.
4. Eres Tu 4/1 – She makes her fifth straight start (all for trainer Arnaud Delacour) since taking a 30-month hiatus and follows her first defeat with Delacour when she was second in the Royal Delta. Her first appearance off the bench saw her defeat allowance rivals over this course and distance by 2 1/4 lengths last October; she then won the Thirty Eight Go Go and the Allaire DuPont (G3) at Laurel Park.
“She is a big filly and needed time to mature,” Delacour said regarding the long layoff earlier in her career. “She was fit when she came to us at Fair Hill from the farm in Florida. We breezed her once a week and she took everything in stride.”
5. Bonny South 3/1 – The Juddmonte Farms homebred makes her first start as a 4-year-old and since finishing second in last November’s Falls City (G2) behind a loose-on-the-lead gate-to-wire winner. She stands a much better chance to rally from off the pace for victory in a field with a more even pace setup and reunites with Florent Geroux, who rides 29% winners here for trainer Brad Cox.
6. Speech 8/5 – She returns to Keeneland for her first start since finishing sixth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), though the one-turn setup was likely not her favorite. Her prior local try was a resounding 3-length score at this distance in last July’s Ashland Stakes (G1) and she’s never finished outside the exacta in 4 starts at 1 1/16 miles (resulting in 2 wins and 2 seconds).
7. Bajan Girl 15/1 – She sat just off the early pace duel and managed to be the only one from that duel to still hit the board in the Royal Delta, finishing third – though she was 4 3/4 lengths behind Eres Tu. The good news is that was her first start off a slight break and trainer Rohan Crichton wins 14% with runners making their second starts after similar breaks. Expect to see her prominent early.
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