Doubledogdare Preview: Bonny South the class of the field

Jockey Joel Rosario's hot riding continues at Keeneland. He rides what could be the favorite in Friday's Doubledogdare S. on Friday. See who he will be facing in this preview of the race.
Jockey Joel Rosario's hot riding continues at Keeneland. He rides what could be the favorite in Friday's Doubledogdare S. on Friday. See who he will be facing in this preview of the race.

1 1/16th (Dirt), Doubledogdare Stakes (G3), Purse $100, F&M 4+

Now entering its 4th decade, the Doubledogdare S. represents a late April Meet tradition at Keeneland. However, due to COVID-19, it was summarily cancelled in 2020. Stakes competition for older females in routes (1 mile or over) are few and far between this time of year. This is a quality test for entrants as they try to snag a piece of the $100k purse money. In the past, some celebrated trainers have tasted victory in this contest. They include the 2019 winner, Electric Forest, who hailed from the barn of Chad Brown. Previous to that, Mark Casse, Todd Pletcher, George Arnold, Graham Motion, Christophe Clement, Bill Mott, and Shug McGaughey. Who will take the prize this year?

Now, let’s find out about this field…

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#1 Royal Flag (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: C. Brown):

Coming off the bench for trainer Chad Brown, this 5-yr-old mare has solid back class, and the Candy Ride (ARG) pedigree to go with it. Throughout her 2020 campaign, she always hit the board when she ran in Grade III events. If Brown has her primed for this contest, then she will be difficult to best. Getting Joel Rosario (32/9-6-4), one of the hottest riders during this April Meet, is a major score, even before this one loads into the starting gate.

Grade: B+

 

#2 High Regard (Jky: R. Bejarano/Trn: V. Oliver):

Jockey Rafael Bejarano knows this Will Take Charge mare better than most, having ridden her on 4 separate occasions for trainer Vicky Oliver. Her mare could use something that has to do with consistency, especially considering how she failed to excite in her 2021 debut at Gulfstream Park in the Royal Delta (G3). That was a 7th place finish, as she was 17-lengths back from the winner. Once again, she is going to be facing some old foes who have drawn in for this race—namely Eres Tu #3 and Bajan Girl #7. Let’s hope that the GW Humphrey router is much fitter this time around. I am skeptical . . .

Grade: C+

 

#3 Graceful Princess (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: T. Pletcher):

Here is an experienced OC/ALLW Co. mare who Todd Pletcher took over from Ralph Nicks over 1½ years ago. Since then, she did some tepid running, as she ascended the class pyramid. Everything went well in am OC25k event at Gulfstream Park, but never hit the board in 3 tries after that. At Aqueduct towards the end of the year, she just looked tired running at high odds against some short fields. Clearly, Pletcher needed to go back to the drawing board in an attempt to get her in the proper place. Now, we shall see if she is fit, and ready for action with Luis Saez along for the ride. If anyone can serve as a great guide, it is him. Still, I am not sure that she is ready for this level of competition right from the get go in 2021.

Grade: C+

 

#4 Eres Tu (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: A. Delacour):

The training prowess of Arnaud Delacour continues to be an inviting prospect to back in the right situation. He comes to Keeneland each year with a small string, but they are all quality. You know when you put your hard-earned money down on one of his runners, that you are getting a quality horse that is fit as can be. I like this mare’s effort last time in the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park. She didn’t end winning, as it was a miss down the stretch when she lost the lead. Still, her record speaks for itself, having won her 3 previous races. The first of those 2020 contests ended up being her first with Delacour, and it was in an ALLW71k at Keeneland. This daughter of Malibu Moon gets Tyler Gaffalione, and he is looking to take aim at the top of the jockey standings once again. Major ability with this one!  

Grade: B+

 

#5 Bonny South (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):

The last time we saw this daughter of Munnings, she was completing what was yet another 2nd place finish, this time around in the Falls City (G2) at Churchill Downs. There is no doubt that this Brad Box Juddmonte homebred has the class to win this race at Keeneland, but it is going to come down to the trip. Jockey Florent Geroux has an atrocious beginning in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Weekend back in October, and he did his best to even place in that event. I think it is time for Geroux to get her on the lead, and change tactics. Her works look impressive, but still, she needs to prove she can close the deal. The time has come to get back on track!

Grade: A-

 

#6 Speech (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: M. McCarthy):

The Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, headed by Aron Wellman, have teamed with Mike McCarthy to once again start a new campaign for their young 4-yr-old filly in 2021. She was impressive last year, winning the Ashland Stakes (G1) during Keeneland’s hybrid July Meet. That was a pretty short field that day, but she won in fine fashion. The KY Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup F&M Sprint (G1) did not go as planned, and she missed the board in each. Now, ready to go once again, we will see what kind of work she has put in. Javier Castellano was her regular rider, save one race last year—SA Oaks (G2). Fillies like this one can grow by leaps and bounds, so it will be interesting to see just how her desire manifests itself once she leaves that gate.

Grade: B

 

#7 Bajan Girl (Jky: C. Lanerie/Trn: R. Crichton):

St. Elias Stables bred this filly who is out of Speightstown. She had 3 wins out of 7 last year, but all of them came at the OC62.5k level or below. When Rohan Crichton did send him up into Grade III territory, it resulted in a pair of “shows” in both the Rampart (G3) and the Royal Delta (G3). That first “Graded” contest she was entered in, saw the rise of Letruska, who has become a leader in this division. She will be up against Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver on Saturday. Crichton’s entry has some good efforts, but she has lacked the late kick that is needed. Corey Lanerie is going to have to dig deep to challenge this field. It may not be enough, but looking back through this one’s work tab, there is some excellent speed showings. Tough to figure . . .

Grade: B-

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Join us Friday for our Battle of the Handicappers Challenge! Should be a great set of races from the tradition that is Keeneland!

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