04/23/2007 11:00PM

Bewitch Stakes preview


April 25, 2007
Keeneland - Race 8
1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
Bewitch Stakes (Grade 3)
4-year-olds and upward, fillies and mares
Purse $150,000.

BARANCELLA was wide every step of the way, and may have made a premature move when a good second to Arravale in the Grade 1 Taylor last fall at Woodbine. She finished behind SAFARI QUEEN in her most recent start, but galloped out past that one after the wire, and was tucked in behind a slow pace for most of the running. She finished second in the Grade 1 QE II Cup in her only previous trip over the Keeneland sod, and can turn the tables on Safari Queen as the second choice in the Bewitch.
Safari Queen looms the one to beat after a good-trip win in the Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream, and she is a perfect 2-2 at this marathon distance. She goes out for the top-flight jockey/trainer combination of John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher, but picks up 7 lbs. off her last race, and will give the top selection 6 lbs. She has good tactical speed, but may be undervalued. Lightly-raced MAXINE'S HYMN has some upside potential, and she's done little wrong since being switched to the weeds. She acts like she'll appreciate this extra distance. MOON BERRY faded badly behind Safari Queen in her last two starts on turf. Her best chance may be to slow the pace down to a crawl, but that may be difficult with ZULU QUEEN also expected to show some speed. Both of MAMA I'M HOME's wins came over Tampa Bay's turf course, and she may be in a bit over her head in this spot.

1. Barancella
2. Safari Queen
3. Maxine's Hymn