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LEXINGTON, KY – Though 13 drew into the field, all eyes will be on Godolphin homebred Althiqa, who aims for her third straight Grade 1 score on American turf in Saturday’s $400,000 First Lady Stakes (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare at Keeneland.
The First Lady is a 1-mile turf route open to fillies and mares ages 3 and up that serves as the eighth event on an 11-race card with a local post time of 4:44 PM. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar this November.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the First Lady:
1. Abscond 30/1 – “Close but no cigar” would be an apt description for her last 2 efforts, when she rallied impressively but just missed in the Nassau Stakes (G2) at Woodbine (by 3/4 of a length) and the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3) last time out (1/2-length). While she’s hit the board in 9 of her 12 career starts, only 2 of those were wins and both came in 2019 as a juvenile.
2. Empress Josephine 10/1 – The latest Aidan O’Brien trainee to ship from Ireland to America is this 3-year-old daughter of superstar sire Galileo. She won the 1-mile Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) by a nose over a next-out winner 4 starts back but missed the board in each of her next 3 starts. In her defense, those came against Group 1 European horses who are all tougher than what America produces.
3. Althiqa 7/2 – The Euro superstar invaded the winner’s circle in both the Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in June and the Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in July. Trainer Charlie Appleby has won 6 races (5 of them Grade 1s) in North America this year from just 13 starters, a testament to both the strength of his stable and a lack of star power from the American-based horses in the division.
4. Star Command 30/1 – She steps back up to the stakes ranks for the second time after suffering the only defeat of her past 4 starts in the 1-mile De La Rose at Saratoga. Two rivals who finished ahead of her that day return, and that race was restricted to non-winners of a stakes, so the waters get much deeper for a filly whose career-best Beyer Speed Figure (85) pales next to the favorites.
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5. Hendy Woods 10/1 – After a close second in the De La Rose, she dominated the 1-mile, 70-yard One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs last time out for her second win in 2021 following a 1-mile Churchill Downs optional claimer in May. She rallied from well off the pace to win the 2020 Indiana Grand Stakes over yielding ground and reunites with jockey Tyler Gaffalione for the third straight start.
6. Regal Glory 5/1 – Trainer Chad Brown aims for his record fifth race title (and fourth straight) with three runners, beginning with this multiple graded stakes champion who defeated a restricted group in the De La Rose last time out. Her most effective running style seems to be to settle within a few lengths of the early lead and get first run at the leaders. Jose Ortiz rides for the fifth straight start.
7. Daddy Is a Legend 12/1 – The only runner in the field with multiple wins over this surface accomplished the feat 3 times in 5 tries, which includes breaking her maiden going 1 1/8 miles in October 2017. It might be 4 tallies had she not ducked through the rail in the 2018 Valley View Stakes (G3) stretch. Her only stakes scores came in the 2017 Jimmy Durante (G3) and the 2018 Lake George (G3).
8. Harvey’s Lil Goil 6/1 – She shows up back on turf after a failed brief return to dirt in the 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where she made a mid-race bid but tired to seventh. Grass is the site of 3 of her 5 career wins including last October’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) over this course; she then returned to finish third by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
9. Blowout 8/1 – Brown’s second runner is a threat to wire any race she enters, a feat she most recently accomplished in May’s 1-mile Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2). She set the pace and faded to fourth in the 1-mile Fourstardave Handicap (G1) facing males and reunites with Flavien Prat, aboard in the Distaff Turf Mile and her nose defeat in last November’s Matriarch Stakes (G1).
10. Princess Grace 6/1 – She rallied from last to take the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf for her sixth win in 7 starts, a streak that includes 4 scores against Grade 2 or Grade 3 company. Her lone defeat was a 1/2-length miss here in last October’s Valley View Stakes (G3), but that was her first stakes test and just her third career start. Kent Desormeaux rides for the second time.
11. Dalika 12/1 – She rallied gamely to take second in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, a 1/2-length behind the winner and nose better than Abscond. She has 4 stakes wins dating back to the September 2020 One Dreamer, each time accomplished when closely attending or pressing the early pace. Miguel Mena, aboard for each of those 4 scores, wins 18% overall for trainer Al Stall Jr.
12. La Signare 20/1 – She makes her 10th straight start against graded stakes company (and fifth straight at the top level) while compiling 2 seconds and 3 thirds in that stretch. She’s come within a neck and a 1/2-length of Keeneland success in the past, but her last win came in the March 2020 Sand Springs Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Ricardo Santana Jr. (6-0-2-2 in her saddle) rides again.
13. Viadera 8/1 – Brown’s third runner has won 4 of 6 since the British-bred came stateside in 2020. She ended last year narrowly catching Blowout in the Matriarch and won the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) at Saratoga last out. She doesn’t seem to win by much (her greatest margin in 7 victories is a 1/2-length), and doing so against this group will be a tough task from this far outside post.
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