Jenny Wiley Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Grade I Race @KEE

Chad Brown enters a pair of turf routers in this year's Jenny W (G1). See what his chances look like as we preview the 'featured' turf race, which is sure to be a great contest.
Chad Brown enters a pair of turf routers in this year's Jenny W (G1). See what his chances look like as we preview the 'featured" turf race, which is sure to be a great contest.

1 1/16th (Turf), Jenny Wiley Stakes, Purse $300k, F&M 4+

One of the turf highlights of the April Meet at Keeneland is this race, the Jenny Wiley Stakes. For those of you that might not know, the contest is named for a Kentucky woman who endured almost a year of captivity among a Native American tribe right before the turn of the nineteenth century. Honoring her hardship and legacy, the state of Kentucky christened a State Park in her honor, and Keeneland followed suit in 1989. Some of the best older fillies and mares have routed through this race, and included some choice names in the division. How about Centre Court, Hard Not to Like, Ball Dancing, Tepin, Dickinson, Sistercharlie (IRE), and a 2-time champ named Rushing Fall. A win here equates to major glory in North American grass circles. It is always a highlight each and every year.

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Micheline (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: M. Stidham):

There is not enough room for me to fit all of the things I love about this Mike Stidham runner. She is a filly who grapples with anxiety issues, and does not enjoy enclosed stalls. She has to travel with her own pen because she enjoys the wide-open air. Godolphin knows she is talented, so whatever it takes to keep her comfortable, is necessary. Stidham has brought her along well this past year, and she shipped into Tampa for the Hillsborough (G2) and won in fine fashion. Coming back to Keeneland, the site of her 2nd place finish last fall in the QEII Cup (GI), she is headed in the right direction. Luis Saez rides for the "Boys in Blue," again, and we know how that goes as of late. Could we possibly be looking at the class of this division? She is already there . . .   

Grade: A-


#2 Tamahere (FR) (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Brown):

The first of 2 Chad Brown entries in here. This one, a nice filly out of Wootton Bassett (GB) with prior Euro experience, has not been seen since the Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar. That effort was closer than the placing might seem, in what was a highly competitive race that included gatemate Juliet Foxtrot #3. With an incredibly consistent worktab both down at Palm Meadows and most recently at Keeneland, one would expect Brown to have this one ready to fire. Getting Irad Ortiz to ride makes this runner lethal, and this might be your chance to wager on one of these typical low-priced entries at a much better one. Still, I would not hold your breath and hope that this one is above 3/1. I would be stupefied if she was.  

Grade: B+


#3 Juliet Foxtrot (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: B. Cox):

Not to be outdone by Brown or Stidham, Brad Cox has an entry here that, as I mentioned, last ran in the Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar. She ended up 3rd, behind Viadera and Blowout. A Juddmonte homebred, she had much more experience at that point than her rival from that race. Now, a 6-yr-old mare, the question is, are her best days behind her? Sometimes they get to this age and are just not interested in running like they used to be. Cox ran her in last year’s edition of the JW @KEE, and she finished 3rd then too. I do not see anything that speaks to her ability being compromised, but there is the layoff concern. Cox is just as accomplished at sending entries into these spots as his opponents. Maybe this will be Tyler Gaffalione’s chance to start heating up? When he gets moving, this jockey colony better be wary.

Grade: B


#4 Etoile (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: C. Brown):

The other Brown entrant is one who was strong once he got going up at Woodbine in the late summer and fall. The 5-yr-old mare ended up winning the E.P. Taylor (G1), which is as good as it gets at a deep route distance on the turf. After going to the bench, she is back in action with works look inviting. Brown has kept her over at Payson, and she has primarily stuck to the grass. Workouts are important not only for their regularity, but also when you see a runner navigating a “dogs out” course. That is distinguished in the PPs with a “(d)” designation. Look for it, and compare the numbers, because it might help you determine a horse’s fitness. I have no doubt that another trajectory is planned for this mare out of Siyouni (FR), and I am sure we will see her up at the SPA or back at Woodbine. Javier Castellano has the call, and you know what he can do on the turf, when the ask is given.

Grade: B+


#5 Maxim Rate (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: S. Callaghan):

The 2 outside runners in this race do not have the panache that the others do, but they will help to round out this short field. I remember the wild days when this race was chock full. Miss it . . . We have to be satisfied with what we have. Simon Callaghan has a SoCal entry that has come to Keeneland on one previous occasion. It was the Valley View (G3) over a year and a half ago, and it did not go well. Now, he is bringing this mare off the bench after she also ran in the Matriarch (G3). How much damage she can do against some of these formidable grass routers is unknown. I would probably look elsewhere, despite the fact that Umberto Rispoli is in town to take the mount. He can be an accomplished sodbuster when he wants to be.  

Grade: C+


#6 La Signare (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: B. Walsh):

Brendan Walsh’s trainer stock continues to rise to new heights, and he proved it once again in Dubai a few weeks ago when he made it 2/2 in the city by the sea. He continues to be what I think is an underrated trainer, and most do not think of his name when it comes to turf racing in North America. He can change that by winning these types of races, and I like this daughter of that same French sire we saw before—Siyouni (FR). Every time she runs, there is something small and ordinary that stymies her progress. If Walsh can tinker around with her abilities, I do not see why she could not become a class threat in this division. Looking back over her previous opponents they have included some of the best around—Beau Recall, Civil Union, Rushing Fall, Newspaperofrecord, Secret Message, and of course, Micheline #1 and Juliet Foxtrot #3. Still, John Velazquez is going to have his hands full against some of these accomplished lawn mowers. It will not be easy, and once again, Walsh will need to go back to the drawing board.

Grade: B-


Join us Saturday for all of our Keeneland selections! Should be a great set of races from the picturesque Central Kentucky track!