06/12/2012 11:52AM

Churchill Downs: Judy the Beauty returns in tough spot for Thursday turf sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Judy the Beauty will make her first start since September’s Spinaway on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Perhaps the tell-tale sign that Thursday is a “go” in the comeback of a 3-year-old filly named Judy the Beauty is that Joel Rosario is coming from California to ride her.

Judy the Beauty will make her first start since finishing second as the favorite in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes last September at Saratoga when meeting older mares and having Rosario aboard in one of the co-featured races Thursday at Churchill Downs, a $70,100 classified allowance with a $100,000 claiming option. The race is scheduled for five furlongs on the turf.

Wesley Ward, who owns and trains Judy the Beauty, said he is “doing everything in my power to getting her up to speed and having her run the way I think she can for the rest of the year.” To that end, he contacted his close friend, Ronnie Ebanks, agent for Rosario, and Ebanks agreed to skip the Thursday card at Betfair Hollywood Park just to ride for Ward.

Rosario is the fifth-leading jockey in North America this year, with more than $6.1 million in mount earnings. Aside from riding Judy the Beauty in the seventh of nine races, he also is named in two earlier races (1 and 3), both also for Ward.

Judy the Beauty, winner of her first three races before her runner-up finish behind Grace Hall in the Spinaway, has been training sharply in Kentucky in recent weeks. Ward intended to run her last week in a Belmont Park allowance and even shipped her to New York. But when the race didn’t fill, he had the filly work Saturday at Aqueduct, and she breezed five furlongs in 1:01.

“She got back on the plane [Monday], and we’re ready to go,” Ward said.

The return spot could not have come up much more demanding. Judy the Beauty will face a proven group of turf sprinters, most notably Wild About Marie, a 5-year-old mare with multiple stakes wins in this niche, and Well Deserved, a just-miss second in a deep renewal of the Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland two starts back.

Wild About Marie will start right alongside Judy the Beauty in post 2 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, while Well Deserved gets the meet’s leading rider, Corey Lanerie, when breaking from post 5. A field of eight is entered, including one designated as “main track only.”

One other allowance directly follows as the eighth race. It’s a $59,800, first-level sprint for 3-year-olds and up, and this one also will have a 3-year-old starting from post 1 as a major player – Radiant Talent, who goes turf to dirt for Bridgmohan and trainer Steve Margolis. A field of eight is entered, with 5-year-old Prince Silver appearing the main threat to Radiant Talent.

There are carryovers in both the $1 super high five ($18,835, race 9) and $2 pick six ($3,240, races 4-9) after neither were hit Sunday. First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.