The Debutante, which was first run at Churchill Downs in 1895, is the featured 10th event on an 11-race program on the next-to-last Saturday of racing in the historic track’s 2012 Spring Meet. Other highlights of the Saturday program include the $73,600 Kelly’s Landing, a seven-furlong overnight stakes race the for 3-year-olds and up, and an allowance race for older fillies and mares on turf that has attracted Karlovy Vary, winner of this year’s renewal of Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.
Longshot Flashy Lassie, also owned by King, provided Simms with a surprise victory in the 2011 Debutante and a win on Saturday by Blueeyesintherein would make him only the fourth trainer in the long history of the Debutante to win the race in successive years. Steve Asmussen was the most recent to do so when he saddled three consecutives Debutante winners: Effectual (2005), Richwoman (2006) and Rated Fiesty (2007). D. Wayne Lukas, who has trained a record seven Debutante winners,, earned back-to-back victories with Be Gentle (2003) and Classic Elegance (2004). Eventual two-time champion filly and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Silverbulletday won the Debutante in 1998 for trainer Bob Baffert, who took the race the following year with Chilukki.
Blueeyesintherein, an impressive 3 ¾-length winner in her 4 ½-furlong racing debut at Churchill Downs on May 31, drew post three for the Debutante. The daughter of Magna Graduate, who won Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap (then Grade II, now a Grade I event) in 2005, will be ridden by Leandro Goncalves, who was in the saddle for her maiden victory.
Other Churchill Downs-based Debutante contenders include Rob Auerbach and Marc Winston’s Quiet Success, a daughter of Successful Appeal who earned a victory in her second career start for trainer Tom Amoss in a Kentucky Derby Week maiden race; and John C. Oxley’s Floral Sky, an Ohio-bred daughter of Sky Mesa who won at first asking for trainer Mark Casse at Churchill Downs on May 17.
A quartet of fillies will invade from tracks outside of Kentucky in a bid to make the Debutante their first stakes triumph. The group includes Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Richie’slilcowgirl, an easy winner in her racing debut over Arlington Park’s Polytrack surface on May 11; Paul Schaffer’s Dancing Elliebelle, a daughter of Pure Prize who easily won her debut at Minnesota’s Canterbury Park for trainer Leigh Bentley, a former Lukas assistant; Sheltowee Farm and Blazing Meadow Farm LLC’s Love Me Good, who comes off a victory for trainer Tim Hamm over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle Downs; and K.D. Investments and trainer Jackie Christenson’s Truthandknowledge, a Magna Graduate filly who won her only start at Ohio’s River Downs on June 3.
A win by Richie’slilcowgirl would be Asmussen’s fifth in the Debutante. He also trained 2001 winner Cashier’s Dream. Lukas will seek to extend his record Debutante victory total when he sends out Bluegrass Hall’s Neith, a Dynaformer filly who ran fifth in her only start on June 8 at Churchill Downs.
The field for the 112th running of the Debutante, from the rail out (with jockey and weight), includes: Truthandknowledge (Ramon Vasquez, 120), Quiet Success (Miguel Mena, 120); Blueeyesintherein (Goncalves, 120), Neith (Jon Court, 118), Floral Sky (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120), Shesakitty (Calvin Borel, 118), My Daughter’s Song (John McKee, 120), Love Me Good (Shane Sellers, 120), Dancing Elliebelle (Brian Hernandez Jr.) and Richie’slilcowgirl (Corey Lanerie, 120).
The Kelly’s Landing, carded as the ninth race, attracted a strong field of nine older sprinters headed by WinStar Farm’s Cal Nation, a gritty winner in his 2012 debut on May 24 for trainer Todd Pletcher in a Monmouth Park allowance race, and J C M Racing’s Noble’s Promise, winner of the 2011 Aristides (GIII) for trainer Ken McPeek at Churchill Downs.
Bridgmohan will ride Cal Nation, a homebred son of Distorted Humor who finished third in Calder’s Carry Back (GIII) at three. Noble’s Promise, a two-time stakes winner at Churchill Downs, will be ridden by Lanerie in an attempt to snap a seven-race losing streak that dates to his victory in last year’s Aristides.
Preston Madden’s Whiskey Rebellion, the only 3-year-old in the field, ran third to Rothko in the 2012 Aristides in his most recent start. The Forestry gelding has faced older rivals in his last three races and won two of those. Akiko Gothard trains Whiskey Rebellion, who will be ridden by Crystal Carman.
Alex G. Campbell Jr.’s 3-year-old Karlovy Vary, upset winner of the Ashland on April 7, takes on nine older rivals in Saturday’s eighth race, a 1 1/8-mile allowance optional claiming race on the Matt Winn Turf Course. The Dynaformer filly has three wins for trainer Rusty Arnold, and two have come on grass courses.