Trainer Chad Brown returns in the $300,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) April 10 at Keeneland with a pair of French-bred runners as he aims for his fourth consecutive win in the event and his fifth overall.
He’ll be represented by grade 1 winner Etoile and grade 2 winner Tamahere in this year’s 1 1/16-mile turf event for fillies and mares 4 and up, which drew six entries. Both of his runners will make their seasonal bows in the feature race.
“We’ve been fortunate to have some really good fillies in this race through the years. It’s one of those turf races that I point for every year,” said Brown, who won the race with eventual turf female champions Sistercharlie in 2018 and Rushing Fall in 2019-20. “I like the timing and distance of it. It’s always nice to run on the Keeneland turf course this time of year. Once again, I think we’ve pointed two very nice fillies to this race, so hopefully, we have some continued luck in it.”
The 120-pound highweight in the field is Peter Brant, Mrs. M. V. Magnier, and Mrs. Paul Shanahan’s Etoile, who closed out last season with a neck victory in E. P. Taylor Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine in October. After sitting just off the pace in that 1 1/4-mile event, she took over in the stretch and then held off a late run by Court Return. She’ll carry two pounds more than her rivals Saturday.
The 5-year-old Siyouni mare returned to the work tab in February at Payson Park Training Center. She had one work on the Keeneland turf April 4, breezing a half-mile in :49 1/5 on a good-rated course in company with Tamahere, who was clocked in the same time.
“We gave her some time off, well deserved after we were able to finally secure that grade 1 win in Canada,” Brown said of Etoile. “She shipped around a little bit a couple times up there, so she had a busy second half of the year. I feel she really benefited from some turnout time and sort of recharged the batteries a bit. I also don’t think she’ll mind the cut back in distance, at least to start the season. She’s a pretty versatile horse, and I think she can be effective from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and a quarter.”
Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables’ Tamahere started the 2020 season in France and won the one-mile Sands Point Stakes (G2T) at Belmont Park in her U.S. debut last fall. She closed from second to last in that event and continued on for a two-length win.
“We were able to run her a couple times last year after the partners who purchased her transferred her. We let her acclimate and all that, and she really ran well first time in the country,” Brown said.
The 4-year-old Wootton Bassett filly returns Saturday off a sixth-place finish as the favorite in the Nov. 29 Matriarch Stakes (G1T) going a mile at Del Mar, which Brown said was a backup race after Churchill Downs suspended turf racing for the latter half of its fall meet.
“A mile’s a little short for her, and I think the turf might have been a little too firm for her,” Brown said of the Matriarch’s conditions. “We got back to our original plan, which was to rest her and run her in the Jenny Wiley. Now, knock on wood, everything’s gone to plan. She’s breezed weekly. Every time I wanted her to work she did, and she worked well, so, hopefully, she can get back on track in this race.”
Tamahere came back on the work tab in late February at Palm Meadows Training Center before shipping to Keeneland.
Javier Castellano has the mount on Etoile from post 4 and Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back aboard Tamahere for the third time when the filly breaks from post 2.
Godolphin homebred Micheline has shaped up as a strong rival after prevailing by three-quarters of a length in the March 6, 1 1/8-mile Hillsborough Stakes (G2T) at Tampa Bay Downs to start her 4-year-old season. The Bernardini filly closed out her sophomore campaign with a close runner-up finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana (G1T) last fall at Keeneland and prior to that rallied to win the 1 5/16-mile Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs by a neck.
Micheline enters the winner’s circle after her Hillsborough Stakes score at Tampa Bay Downs
Trainer Michael Stidham said Micheline is scheduled to ship into Keeneland from Tampa April 8 and has her portable stall, which she resides in because she is claustrophobic in traditional stabling, set up outside his barn at the Lexington track. The filly worked a bullet half-mile in :47 1/5 on Tampa’s main track April 2.
“I really felt like I was going into the Hillsborough a little bit short of conditioning. I thought she was maybe a work or two away from being really where I would have liked her, so the way she ran off of what I had in her, I was amazed that she ran as well as she did,” Stidham said. “Since then she’s really moved forward physically, and her last work was just a really super work for her.”
Luis Saez will pilot Micheline from the rail.
Juddmonte Farms’ multiple grade 3 winner Juliet Foxtrot returns from a third-place finish in the Matriarch, in which she led after the first quarter-mile and was defeated only a half-length. The Brad Cox trainee won an allowance on the Keeneland turf in spring 2019, was second in the track’s First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare (G1T) that fall, and third in the 2020 Jenny Wiley, run in July after the spring meet was canceled due to COVID-19. Tyler Gaffalione will ride Saturday from post 3.
Additional reporting by Byron King.
Keeneland, Saturday, April 10, 2021, Race 10
- Grade IT
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
- 6:03 PM (local)