04/09/2008 11:00PM

Big names clash in Jenny Wiley


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Short of maybe bringing back Estrapade, Miesque, and Flawlessly, could the field for the Jenny Wiley Stakes get much better?

Seriously, almost all of the top filly-mare turf horses still in training in North America will take part Saturday in an extraordinarily deep renewal of the $200,000 Jenny Wiley. There are a few notable absentees from the Grade 2 race - maybe Nashoba's Key, Wait a While, Costume, Vacare, and Dreaming of Anna - but otherwise, the gang's all here.

Precious Kitten, Bit of Whimsy, Lady of Venice, Rutherienne, and Sealy Hill make up half of a 10-horse field in the Jenny Wiley, which goes as the sixth of 10 races on the Blue Grass Stakes program at Keeneland.

"It's like a Breeders' Cup race," said Mark Casse, the trainer of Sealy Hill, the 2007 Horse of the Year in Canada.

Sealy Hill is returning from a layoff of nearly six months, but Casse is confident she can win right away. "There was an allowance race Sunday that we could've gone in, but this filly is training extremely well, as good as I've ever seen her," said Casse. "This is a tough race, but she's a tough horse."

Sealy Hill appeared on her way to winning the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine in her season finale in October, surging to the lead in deep stretch before being passed in

the final yards by the French filly Mrs. Lindsay.

"She absolutely pulled herself up after making the lead," recalled Casse. "I've trained horses for 29 years, and I've never wanted to cry after a race like I did when I saw her do that."

Although she lacks the Grade 1 credential she could have earned that day, Sealy Hill is one of seven graded winners (four of them Grade 1 winners) in the field for the 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley. Two of the remaining three starters are ungraded stakes winners.

Precious Kitten, a speedy mare trained by Bobby Frankel, figures as the horse to catch. First or second in 15 of her 19 starts, Precious Kitten has amassed more than $1.4 million in earnings, with a victory in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap last August being the high mark. The 5-year-old was purchased privately in January for an undisclosed amount by the Lael Stable of Barbaro fame.

Bit of Whimsy is a returning hero of sorts, having won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland last fall. Trained by Barclay Tagg, the filly ran once more after the QEII, winning the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere before getting a deserved break.

Lady of Venice ran several monster races last year, most notably when she rallied from far back to win the Grade 2 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park in July. Previously trained by Patrick Biancone, who began serving a one-year medication suspension in October, Lady of Venice now is under the care of Kiaran McLaughlin.

Rutherienne, trained by Christophe Clement, will be making her 4-year-old debut after winning 6 of 8 starts at 3, including triumphs in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and the Grade 3 Lake George at Saratoga.

The rest of the Jenny Wiley field is Candy Ball, Roshani, Stormy West, Swingit, and Arravale.

This will be the 20th running of the Jenny Wiley. Last year, wet conditions forced the race off the turf and onto the Polytrack, and My Typhoon narrowly prevailed over Precious Kitten while the odds-on choice, Wait a While, finished well back.