05/16/2013 11:49AM

Churchill Downs: Beijoca seeks second straight win in Keertana

Email
Tom Keyser
Beijoca enters Saturday's Keertana Stakes off a nose win in an allowance on the Keeneland turf April 10.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – All eyes will be riveted Saturday on Pimlico – except, of course, when there are other races elsewhere to bet on and watch.

That will happen 11 times Saturday at Churchill Downs, where this whole Orb thing got started two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby. In due deference to the second jewel of the Triple Crown, a race of considerably less importance than the Preakness will serve as the Churchill feature Saturday: The Keertana, a $65,000 overnight stakes, will have its first running when matching 10 filly-and-mare turf marathoners.

Beijoca, a grinding type who was up in the final yards to win a second-level allowance at a similar distance at Keeneland last month, looks as good as any in the Keertana. The race will be run around three turns at 1 3/8 miles as the ninth of 11 Saturday races.

“After she won going a mile and a half at Keeneland, we thought this would be the best spot for her,” trainer Jimmy Baker said. “The further, the better for her. If she runs her race again, hopefully she’ll be right there.”

Beijoca, a 4-year-old filly by Dynaformer, is owned by the prominent Louisville banking family of Bert, Elaine, and Richard Klein. Baker assumed her training over the winter because there were not any suitable distance races at Fair Grounds, the winter home of Steve Margolis, who trains the majority of the Kleins’ horses.

Beijoca will break from post 2 with Corey Lanerie back aboard. Her primary opposition could come from Qushchi (post 5, Joe Rocco Jr.), a decent third in the Grade 3 Bewitch over the Keeneland turf last month; Artemus Kitten (post 7, Calvin Borel), third in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare over the Keeneland Polytrack on April 19; Treasured Up (post 8, Shaun Bridgmohan), third in a shorter, third-level turf allowance last out at Keeneland; and Preferential (post 10, Jesus Castanon), a dangerous-looking Juddmonte Farms import who stands to benefit from her stateside debut at Keeneland five weeks ago.

The Keertana is named for the millionaire 7-year-old mare who ran her 29th and final race in March 2012. She was bred and owned by the late Barbara Hunter and trained by Tom Proctor, who will send out an Irish mare named Midnight Music (post 6, Francisco Torres) for her first North American start in this race.

First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the feature set for 4:59 and the 11th race at 6. The Preakness simulcast will follow about a half-hour later.