08/11/2011 12:13PM

Arlington Park: Beverly D. the deepest in years

Four-Footed Fotos
River Jetez was second against males in the Dubai Duty Free.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – There may have been deeper fields for the Beverly D., but quick, can you name one? The lineup assembled Saturday for the Arlington Park fixture can boast top fillies and mares from both coasts and beyond, giving it a chance to be one of the best renewals in its proud history.

River Jetez, from South Africa by way of other worldly venues, and Stacelita, one of the top French runners of recent seasons, lead an 11-horse cast that also drew major domestic players, too. Dubawi Heights, whose victory in the Gamely extended her California win streak to four, is here for the Grade 1, $750,000 Beverly D., as are Fantasia and Cheetah, a pair of standouts from the East Coast.

River Jetez, trained by the legendary Michael de Kock, was good enough to finish second versus males in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in March. An 8-year-old South African-bred with a wealth of Group 1 experience, she will be one of the favorites in the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D. when she bids to become the oldest winner of the race.

Stacelita is similarly well-traveled, having ventured to Hong Kong last winter before returning to her native France, where her past performances garnered names of renown such as Sea the Stars, Goldikova, and Midday. She, too, has competed frequently with the boys, including a third-place finish last month in her North American debut in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park.

“She strikes me as a really nice mare,” said Chad Brown, who assumed the training of Stacelita after 5-year-old Stacelita ran in the U.N. “She’s really come around in her training for us. If she can improve over her first start in the country, I’d have to think she’ll be tough in there.”

Christophe Soumillon has the call on River Jetez from post 6, while 2010 Eclipse winner Ramon Dominguez will break from post 1 aboard Stacelita.

Dubawi Heights has become a force out west, ripping through her maiden and allowance conditions before winning the Grade 3 Wilshire and Grade 1 Gamely in succession. Joel Rosario has a return call from Simon Callaghan on Dubawi Heights, a 4-year-old British-bred filly.

Fantasia, long well-regarded in the powerhouse Jonathan Sheppard stable, has disappointed at times since coming to the United States for the 2010 season, but her grinding score in the Modesty last month over the Arlington turf serves to encourage. A 5-year-old British-bred mare, she is just the second Beverly D. starter for her Hall of Fame trainer, who sent out Alice Springs as the 1995 runner-up.

Cheetah caught plenty of eyes romping in a last-to-first victory in her third and most recent U.S. start last month in the Robert Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. Garrett Gomez will be aboard Cheetah, yet one more British-bred.

“She’s a small filly,” said Christophe Clement, who trains Cheetah and leads all trainers with three Beverly D. wins. “She will come from out of it, and Gomez is very good at that.”

The others in the Beverly D. lineup are Check the Label, a four-time graded winner last year on turf for Graham Motion; Pachattack, a break-out winner of the Arlington Matron; Eclaire de Lune, the Beverly D. winner last year in dramatic fashion; and local fillies Never Retreat, Upperline, and Romin Robin.

As for race shape, there is no surefire front-runner, although Stacelita, Upperline, Dubawi Heights, Pachattack, and Never Retreat all have the kind of tactical speed that could take them to the top early, or at least close enough.

The rest have settled into come-from-behind routines. One of those, Cheetah, might well be in need of more distance than 1 3/16 miles, but “I just hope there’s enough pace to set things up for her,” said Clement.

Both River Jetez, making her 41st career start, and Stacelita (16th start) will be treated with the anti-bleeder medication Lasix for the first time.

The Beverly D., named for the late wife of Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois, directly precedes the Arlington Million as the ninth of 12 races, with post time set for 4:33 p.m. Central. This is the 22nd running of the Beverly D., which includes such greats as Flawlessly (1993), Possibly Perfect (1995), and Golden Apples (2002) among its former winners.

The only jockeys in the Beverly D. with a previous victory in the race are Junior Alvarado, who rides Eclaire de Lune back, and Julien Leparoux, who guided Gorella to her 2006 triumph and gets the mount Saturday on Check the Label. Kent Desormeaux leads all jockeys with three Beverly D. wins.

The oldest winners of the Beverly D. were 6-year-olds: Kostroma in 1992, and Dynaforce in 2009.