The Spinster 2021 Entries: Letruska tunes her fiddle ...

The power of Letruska will be on-hand in The Spinster at Keeneland ... she readies herself for the Breeders' Cup. Check out this preview below!
The power of Letruska will be on-hand in The Spinster at Keeneland ... she readies herself for the Breeders' Cup. Check out this preview below!

Keeneland Race 9 17:15 ET

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Race 9: 1 1/8th (Dirt), Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1), Purse $500k, F&M 3+ (Sunday)

In the recent memory, Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster has comprised less than a full field of entries. Even though it is now a $500k Grade 1 at 1 1/8 on the dirt for 3-year-olds and up, with “Win-and-You’re In” implications for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, that is current climate. In the age of Thoroughbred racing post-2008, the sport continues to grapple with a dearth of runners of any age. The numbers do not lie. There are not enough horses to fill fields, especially those in major league stakes company.

This Spinster is a bit unique this year, to say the least, because even though there is a field of 7, we have some intriguing quality entered here. This race is always Opening Weekend at the Keene’s Old Farm, and gives the fillies an extra chance to string together some high-level competition. They could conceivably go on to the Breeders’ Cup primed and ready—what a prep! Recall, they have a tougher time because Grade 1s are fewer in number than for the boys. For mares, it is just another opportunity to prepare for a race like the BC Distaff, their signature opportunity.

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Dunbar Road (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: C. Brown):

Chad Brown’s Quality Road mare faced both Letruska #4 and Bonny South #2 last time in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga back in late August. She ended up 4th that day, forced to go wide down the lane. There was just too much to be done. Flavien Prat was aboard then, and is in town to ride her once more. Always a bridesmaid … once again, she is up against it.

Grade: C+


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

The Juddmonte homebred is trying to win the Juddmonte Spinster … fitting. She is looking to upset Lestruska #4 who was just too much in the Personal Ensign (G1). Returning to Keeneland might do the trick because she won nicely a year ago in the Doubledogdare (G3). But that was a much different race, and the accomplished Cox is going to have to really have her finely tuned this time in order to notch the victory. Luckily, Florent Geroux knows her like the back of his goggles.

Grade: B


#3 Town Avenger (Jky: J. Leparoux/Trn: B. Lynch):

Nothing like a long shot from the barn of Brian Lynch. This class leaper is hoping to move from an ALLW 127k at Churchill to running against the best horse in all of America—Letruska #4. Yes, she won by 9+ lengths in that Twin Spires go, but that was then, and this is now, as the saying goes. Out of the wonderful sire Speightstown, she has promise, but even with Julien Leparoux, this will be a major chore.

Grade: C+


#4 Letruska (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: F. Gutierrez):

She wins … I have made the argument for months that Fausto Gutierrez has the greatest runner in all the land. Male or female … old or young … power or finesse … this 4-yr-old by Super Saver reigns supreme. I would put her up against anyone, and that goes double for Knicks Go and Essential Quality. She is absolutely as strong as can be, and I like very much the choice to get her one more race before the Breeders’ Cup. All too often, trainers are afraid to train … they are concerned with overworking their charges. Gutierrez has taken a measured approach, and looked at every angle. Each track she has shipped to this year, she has won. Sam Houston, Oaklawn, Belmont, Churchill, and Saratoga all fell under her powerful kick. This horse just keeps getting better and better … once again, she wins! I rarely hand out an A+ … but here goes …

Grade: A+


#5 Envoutante (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: K. McPeek):

The 4-yr-old by Uncle Mo has 5 wins in 14 starts over the course of what amounts to a nice career. Still, she doesn’t quite have the ability to keep up with the top tier of this division. Brian Hernandez continues to guide her, and he is going to need the filly’s best in order to get this one home. Kenny McPeek has had some great ones in his stable over the years, and maybe she can run the race of her life against Gutierrez’s ace. If she fails in that regard, then settling for the minors might be the best she can expect.

Grade: B-


#6 Crystal Ball (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: R. Brisset):

The Brisset and Baffert Barns crossed paths back in May after the running of the Derby. The former received this Malibu Moon filly (a sire who recently passed), and she fared well in 3 races that were all quite competitive. She has the potential to build on that body of work, but Tyler Gaffalione is going to have to give his best. He rode her at Churchill in mid-September in the Locust Grove, and she nearly got Shedaresthedevil at the wire. Maybe she can take it to the favorite, and win what could be the race of her career. Maybe … maybe not …

Grade: B-


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

Trainer Vicky Oliver is a Kentucky-based conditioner with all kinds of ability, but she has not had the right horse to lead her to the promised land. All great ones have them … she is still waiting. Still, this mare who is owned by GW Humphrey by Will Take Charge, has heart. But, this spot is a major ask, and she may just be in too deep. Trusting Rafael Bejarano makes sense based on his experience over the years. However, even he will probably not be able to make the difference in the end. Just simply too much to do … her record speaks for itself (28/4-2-5).

Grade: C


Join us Sunday for all of my Keeneland selections! Should be a great set of races from Central Kentucky!

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