Maiden tempts in Debutante Stakes

There is no doubt that maidens often run big and can win graded stakes races for two -year-olds.

But it still feels like a bit of wiseguy play when I land on one.

Such is the case in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Slated for 5:25 p.m. ET, the six-furlong dirt race drew a field of 10 two-year-old fillies. It is the 10th race on an 11-race card. For those of you looking to leverage an opinion in here, it is the third leg of the late pick 4.

Calling them like I see them, maidens or not....

 1 Truthandknowledge: Ships down from "the River" with a very slow speed figure.

2 Quiet Success: Rallied from 8th up to 3rd after breaking roughly in the debut at Keeneland. Much quicker out of the gate when she tried dirt at Churchill. Ran down a 1-to-2 shot from the barn of two-year-old speed specialist Wesley Ward. Has shown she can finish from a stalking position. Win candidate.

3 Blueeyesintherein: Very impressive Churchill debut, in which she drew off under a hand ride. Top fig, and she ran fast from start to finish, looking good. Likely deserving favorite.

4 Neith: D. Wayne Lukas optimistically enters this maiden filly by Dynaformer out of a Carson City mare  (the "Barbaro" cross) off a 5th-place debut. She put a rally in and tired. I thought it looked like she will move forward off that education. Closet Lukas fans will (and should) consider using this filly. "Use underneath" candidate for me.

5 Floral Sky: Very solid debut for this Sky Mesa filly. She broke slowly and rushed to engage. She showed some guts winning a stretch-long duel with yet another Ward speedster. 5th-place finisher came back to win a Churchill MSW by 5. Yet another win contender.

6 Shesakitty: She broke in the air in the debut vs. Blueeyesintherein and ran her first quarter in a slow 24-flat. Then, she put on a bit of a show with a 4-wide rally for second, still beaten 3 3/4 lengths. She ran her final 5/16 in 28-flat (smokin'). That's a serious turn of foot. She is a win contender and a potential key if the public shies from betting a maiden.

7 My Daughter's Song: Looks too slow.

8 Love Me Good: The third-place debut at Keeneland and the nice maiden win at Presque Isle Downs make me want to bet this one in a NW1 at Arlington, or later this fall at Keeneland. First-time dirt and she needs to improve in the speed figure department, so I'll look to catch her on the drop. Could maybe use underneath.

9 Dancing Elliebelle: She turned on the afterburners when asked for speed in the debut win at Canterbury (3 1/2 lengths faster than the split division). I like the pedigree (Pure Prize, out of a Smart Strike mare), but the class rise is huge, and she is stretching out from 3 1/2 furlongs. That barely even qualifies as a race in my book! However, I am in this one's corner if anyone wants a River Downs shipper (#1) vs Canterbury shipper (#9) side bet.

10 Richie'slilcowgirl: She's the co-top figure (along with Blueyeesintherein), but this one did it on Polytrack at Arlington. She showed smooth acceleration that day, improving her advantage at every call. Changes barns from Larry Rivelli to Steve Asmussen. Not sure if that's a lateral move in this spot or a move-up. For those who are not familiar with Chicago-based Rivelli, it's "game on" when he debuts a fast two-year-old.

Parimutuelly speaking...  I rate #6 Shesakitty as good or better than anything in this field and likely to improve a little second out. Hence, at 5-1 on the morning line, I could consider pressing her in the pick 4. Otherwise I am 2-3-5-6-10 for comfortable multi-race coverage.

Intra-race, I would look to key Shesakitty to run 1st or 2nd as long as I get 5-1 (or maybe a tick below). None of my top five (2-3-5-6-10) should be double digit odds. If the public shuns one of them, I could get on board (with a value win bet or a part wheel with the other contenders).

Please share who you like this weekend and good luck!


Leave a Comment:


Nice analysis! I've always enjoyed watching these early-season juvenile races, although I rarely have a strong opinion on who will win. But I do agree that Shesakitty looks like a major contender, if not simply because Calvin Borel will be aboard. :)

I find the Mother Goose Stakes to be a fascinating race. The two obvious favorites are Contested and Believe You Can, a pair of speedy fillies with grade I victories on their resumes. However, both of their grade I wins came over speed-favoring tracks that suited their running styles, so the possibility exists that they could find the going tougher over an unbiased track, setting the race up for a closer like Zo Impressive or Disposablepleasure.

On the other hand, Belmont Park itself tends to be speed-favoring, so the possibility exists that another bias could emerge, carrying Contested and Believe You Can to a dominating 1-2 finish.

Also interesting is that while both fillies have shown the speed to lead the race early on, both have also shown the ability to sit just off of the early pace. In my opinion, the Mother Goose Stakes could potentially be decided by jockey strategy alone -- if Believe You Can concedes the lead to Contested, or vice versa, the front-runner could potentially lead all the way around the racetrack. I'll be watching closely for any signs of a bias.


22 Jun 2012 12:02 PM

Good anyalysis Pete. I may go along with the idea of keying Shesakitty in 1st and 2nd, as she has proven in her only start that she can come from off the pace and will keep running even if faced with adversity. Shesakitty shuld also have plenty of upside, being a homebred by the Rachel Alexandra connections.

If liking Shesakitty, must also respect Blueeyseintherein as this filly did nothing wrong in her debut defeating Shesakitty and won in good time. Maybe a repeat for Simms, but the odds will not be very enticing.

Floral Sky looks like she could improve off her debut win and looks to have plenty of upside being a $230K Ohio bred yearling purchase by Sky Mesa.

I guess I also have to respect Quiet Success and Richie'slilcowgiril as they have both shown some ability and have the connections to win juvenile races.

If anyone can upset the obvious horses noted above, I feel it is Love Me Good. It does not bother me that she doesn't have so much as a published work on the dirt. I would be more concerned if the horse was going to dirt to synth, as opposed to synth to dirt. It seems like many horses can produce a big number on the dirt after only running on synth, where it seems to work opposite going the other way. More importantly, this filly looks to have talent and upside. Her sire Jazil and damsire Albert the Great had no problem handling dirt, and she is a homebred that was purchsed back as a yearling when her connections could have made a little profit then, rather than buying her back and paying Keeneland 5% just to run her through the ring. The connections also liked her enough to debut her at Keeneland, where she was up against a well meant winner that went off as the favorite over the second place finisher, who was trained by Westly Ward. We don't see many Ward juveniles going off at better than even money at Keeneland, so the winner of this race was obviously well meant. I see no disgrace in this filly running 3rd behind a well meant first timer and a Ward juvenile. Love Me Good then took her game to Presque Isle and easisly disposed of her rivals while stalking, which could give her an important tactical advantage in the Debutante. Also, this filly has a very impressive work tab. She looks quick enough to be involved early, but she has the ability to stalk, which many juveniles do not have in ther arsenal at this stage in the game.

I certainly wouldn't bet the farm on Love Me Good, but she will most definately be overlooked and will offer great value. I don't think she needs to wait for an allowance race on synth, as this field doesn't look to have any monsters in it.

I would have to go six horses deep in this race to feel comfortable, using Pete's top 5 and then throwing in Love Me Good to hopefully upset and make it an outstanding day. If I don't key Shesakitty in 1st and 2nd, I may throw out the 2 and 10 in the vertical exotics and box the 3x5x6x8. The connections of the 2 and 10 should take significant action, lowering the odds and value of these fillies that have been good, but not great in their performances.

Good luck to all!

22 Jun 2012 12:15 PM

Keelerman -

For a 5 horse field, the Mother Goose is indeed a facinating race. When I first looked at the race, I was thinking that Believe You Can and Contested may hook up in speed duel, but after thinking about it more, I just do not foresee Rosie gunning Believe You Can from the rail to hook up with a horse on her outside that probaly has more natural early speed and is streching out rather than shortening up. Contested should probably have an uncontested lead early, but it probably won't take very long after Contested clears and grabs the rail for Believe You Can to get in the two path and start pressing Contested. I probably agree with your assessment that Contested and Believe You Can may go onto a dominating 1-2 finish. However, I do respecty the three other fillies in the field, even longest price Wilcat's Smile. Maybe a speed duel does develop with the two favorites and one of the others will get a perfect setup to win.

I agree with most of your logic and think it is a great idea to watch for a bias. This certainly isn't the best race to wager on, but it is always fun to watch tactics emerge in short field.

Good luck!

22 Jun 2012 1:57 PM

Big Bux Bill;

I think you're right about Rosie Napravnik and Believe You Can; that is the scenerio I had envisioned as well. It worked well in the Kentucky Oaks, and it could certainly work again tomorrow.

Looking over the past performances of Disposablepleasure, I was reminded of a fellow Todd Pletcher-trained filly from last year, Buster's Ready. After spending the beginning of her career racing in everything from a maiden claiming to a low level stakes, she was entered in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico, where she ran second at 7-1. Her next start yielded an authoritative victory in the Mother Goose over heavily favored Joyful Victory. Seeing that Disposablepleasure is also coming off of a strong effort in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and that she already is a graded stakes winner, it wouldn't surprise me at all if she raises her abilities to a new level tomorrow, in similar fashion to Buster's Ready last year.

On a side note, I just read on that Wildcat's Smile is likely to scratch and instead run in the Bouwerie Stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday. That could potentially make the race even more interesting, as it would be reduced to a four-horse battle in which strategy and initiative alone could end up being the deciding factors. This should be a good one!


22 Jun 2012 5:05 PM


Thanks for the advice about the similarities with the Pletcher trainees and that Wildcat's Smile being likely to scratch.

You might be right about Disposablepleasure sitting on a big one. It looks like she will only improve off her last and it it was certainly no disgrace running a troubled second to monster In Lingerie.

I only bet on the horse and never do more than take the jockey into consideration, but this race is even more interesting with who I consider to be two of the best jocks in the country at these cat and mouse type races in Castellano and Dominguez.

22 Jun 2012 9:35 PM

Big Bux Bill;

Taking a look at the day's scratches at Belmont Park, I see that Wildcat's Smile has not been scratched from the Mother Goose. In addition, she is not listed among the entries for Sunday's Bouwerie Stakes. So I guess she's going to stay in the Mother Goose and see if she can't top the favorites.

Now, as interesting as this race was yesterday, it managed to get even more interesting today when the track turned up muddy. Time will tell if it dries out before the Mother Goose, but a wet track could really shake things up. Believe You Can and Wildcat's Smile are the only entrants with off-track experience, the former having won the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) over a muddy track last fall and the latter having finished first and second in a pair of New York-bred stakes races run over sloppy sealed tracks.

As for Contested, she has no off-track experience, but according to the Tomlinson ratings -- which, quite frankly, I don't use very often -- she should handle it well. Being a daughter of Ghostzapper can't hurt, for Ghostzapper turned in one of the best efforts of his career over a sloppy track.


23 Jun 2012 3:59 PM
Pete Denk


Shesakitty had an even worse start today and rallied for 3rd.

2 Quiet Success went off at way above my 10-1 line, so I value win betted her and keyed her underneath the others. Hit the tri to make a small profit on the race.

23 Jun 2012 5:36 PM


Good call on the Debutante! It's too bad that Shesakitty broke poorly again, but congratulations on hitting the trifecta.

Big Bux Bill;

The results of the Mother Goose Stakes were quite intriguing. As it turns out, the race was decided by jockey strategy -- but not in the way I would have guessed.

It turns out that a bias did emerge at Belmont Park, but it wasn't the speed-favoring bias that I expected. No, this bias emerged in the form of a deep, tiring rail, probably the result of the off track. Throughout the day, horses at Belmont were winning the main track races with outside bids, and generally, the rail was not the place to be.

At the start of the Mother Goose, Believe You Can broke just a step slowly, allowing Contested and Wildcat's Smile to beat her to the lead. Javier Castellano, aboard Contested, then made a decision that was completely logical: with Believe You Can behind him, he moved toward the rail to keep her from rallying into contention along the fence. This would have worked perfectly, except that the rail was deep and tiring.

So as it turned out, the two favorites found themselves racing along the rail, setting the race up for an outside runner -- or, in this case, a pair of them. Zo Impressive and Disposablepleasure both rallied on the far outside around the turn, and entering the homestretch, they seized control of the race. Contested tired badly to finish last, while Believe You Can held on a bit better to finish third.

Give credit to the top two finishers, they ran very well indeed and were clearly best today. But next time, over a fairer track, I would expect Believe You Can and Contested to perform better.


23 Jun 2012 7:20 PM

Keelerman -

Good call on watching of a bias at Belmont on Saturday.  Something to make note of in the future for horses coming out of these races.

Big Bux Bill

25 Jun 2012 9:30 AM

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