A large group of 14 filly and mares will contest this year’s running of the $400,000 First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland this Saturday. The track will run five major stakes races on the day, with NBC Sports on hand for coverage starting at 5:30 PM ET.
Keeneland never fails to disappoint on its big days of racing, and this mile-long turf event will be one of the best that we’ll see all year long. The Chad Brown-trained Rushing Fall runs for the first time since July, when she finished second to her stablemate Sistercharlie in the Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. That defeat was only her second loss in 10 career starts, and she is perfect in four Keeneland appearances. Her competition will be stout, though, as her formidable stablemate Uni joins the fray after a strong third against males in the Fourstardave Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Jerry Hollendorfer’s Vasilika ships east from California, having won 13 of her last 15 starts.
The winner of the First Lady Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Conquest Hardcandy – This consistent runner nearly upset the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) field last time out, finishing fifth by just 3/4 of a length at odds of 40/1. Before that, she was an impressive allowance race winner at Saratoga. She has shown that she belongs in a race of this caliber.
#2 Awesometank – This will be her third start in North America after beginning her career in Europe. Her first stateside appearance was a solid second in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park, where she lost to the amazing Sistercharlie. However, things went south in a hurry for her last time out when she was a well-beaten 10th in the Woodbine Mile (G1) against males. She is back amongst her own gender, which could make a big difference.
#3 Juliet Foxtrot – This British-bred filly has won three of four United States starts, beginning with allowance events at Keeneland and Churchill Downs before taking home the Modesty Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park. Her last race, the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) at Del Mar, is the only loss on her US resume, but she only fell short by a nose.
#4 Uni – As usual, trainer Chad Brown is loaded for this race. Uni is one of the best turf milers in the country, regardless of gender. Last time out, she tried to take on the boys in the Fourstardave Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, finishing a solid third. Before that effort, she had won six straight, all at this 1-mile distance. She has not lost in a female-restricted race since finishing fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) here in 2017.
#5 Marina’s Legacy – Three solid Indiana Grand efforts have this mare ready to face graded stakes company for the first time. The Indiana-bred can run well on both turf and dirt, but the grass seems to be where she puts her best foot forward. She was an allowance winner two starts back before finishing second last time out in the state-restricted Florence Henderson Stakes.
#6 Vasilika – It will be fun to see how this incredible mare runs away from California. She has never shipped since trainer Jerry Hollendorfer claimed her for $40,000 in early 2018, but her resume is as impressive as anyone’s. The daughter of Skipshot has won 13 of her last 15 starts, with eight of those coming against graded stakes company. Last time out, she captured the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) at Del Mar, one of the most impressive wins of her career.
#7 Indian Blessing – After five straight overseas appearances to start 2019, this British-bred mare returned to the United States for her last start, finishing second to Significant Form in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. Last year, she came over for this same race and finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. This multiple stakes-winning world traveler fits into almost any event from a class prospective.
#8 Mitchell Road – The Gallorette Stakes (G3) at Pimlico was her coming out party because she picked up her first graded stakes score in wire-to-wire fashion. That led to a start in the Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where she finished fifth behind Sistercharlie and Rushing Fall. In her last effort, she was a close second in the Three Chimneys Ladies Turf Stakes (G3), losing by a narrow margin to Ms Bad Behavior.
#9 Simply Breathless – This British-bred filly has had success since coming to the United States after a solid campaign overseas. She has four starts in this country, winning twice before a pair of thirds. Her biggest victory came in the Wilshire Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park, while last time out, she was a close third in the Three Chimneys Ladies Turf Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
#10 Storm the Hill – She is winless in 2019, but she has been close in all three appearances. The first came in the Wilshire Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park, where she finished third, before she was just a nose away from winning the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. Last time out, she shipped to Kentucky Downs to finish fourth in the Three Chimneys Ladies Turf Stakes (G3).
#11 Rushing Fall – This filly needs no introduction. The Chad Brown-trained filly has won eight of her 10 lifetime starts, including all four Keeneland appearances. She is also a former Breeders’ Cup winner, having taken home the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) crown in 2017. She comes into this spot looking for redemption after losing to her stablemate Sistercharlie last time out in the Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
#12 Ms Bad Behavior – Last time out, she made her first start in five months in the Three Chimneys Ladies Turf Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs, but she didn’t let that slow her down. After breaking on top, this California-based filly never let go of the lead, cruising home to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz retains the mount.
#13 Just Wonderful – Trainer Aidan O’Brien brings this 3-year-old filly to the United States after two close prior attempts. First, she finished fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) before running second in the Belmont Oaks (G1) this past June. She was recently third, beaten 3/4 of a length, in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown.
#14 Hanalei Moon – This filly took the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs by 2 1/4 lengths for her first stakes victory in 13 lifetime starts. She deserves a shot at a race of this caliber after one of the best performances of her career.
The First Lady Stakes serves as one of 15 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Keeneland, Santa Anita Park, and Belmont Park. Here is the full schedule for this coming weekend:
- Friday: The Darley Alcibiades Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) at Keeneland
- Friday: The Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (Sprint) at Keeneland
- Saturday: The Champagne Stakes (TVG Juvenile) at Belmont Park
- Saturday: The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (TVG Juvenile) at Keeneland
- Saturday: The First Lady Stakes (Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf) at Keeneland
- Saturday: The Shadwell Turf Mile (TVG Mile) at Keeneland
- Saturday: The Thoroughbred Club of American Stakes (Filly and Mare Sprint) at Keeneland
- Saturday: The Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Sprint) at Santa Anita Park
- Sunday: The Flower Bowl Stakes (Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf) at Belmont Park
- Sunday: The Frizette Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) at Belmont Park
- Sunday: The Futurity (Juvenile Turf Sprint) at Belmont Park
- Sunday: The Dixiana Bourbon Stakes (Juvenile Turf) at Keeneland
- Sunday: The Indian Summer Stakes (Juvenile Turf Sprint) at Keeneland
- Sunday: The Juddmonte Spinster (Longines Distaff) at Keeneland
- Sunday: The Speakeasy Stakes (Juvenile Turf Sprint) at Santa Anita Park
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events come to a close on Wednesday, October 9, with the running of the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.