06/19/2013 1:24PM

Churchill Downs: In Kelly's Defense, Uno Duo test allowance company after wins

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Tom Keyser
Irish Lute, third in last month's Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes, drew the rail for Friday's allowance at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In defense of a promising filly named In Kelly’s Defense taking four tries to finally break through her maiden condition, “she was catching some pretty decent fillies all along,” trainer Mike Stidham said.

Tread and Sky Girl were among the next-out winners to keep In Kelly’s Defense in the maiden ranks before she notched that first win June 2 at Churchill Downs. Now comes her first crack at allowances, and Stidham is optimistic the filly can handle the raise in class.

“These young fillies, you learn something about them every time, it seems,” Stidham said this week from his primary base at Arlington Park. “She’s shown she can be on the lead or come from off it, and that last race probably did her some good.”

In Kelly’s Defense will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. when facing eight other 3-year-old fillies Friday in the only allowance on an 11-race twilight card at Churchill. First post is 2:45 p.m. Eastern, with the featured 10th – a $52,000 race at 6 1/2 furlongs – set for 7:24.

Owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, In Kelly’s Defense has been well-regarded by the wagering public, having been favored twice, including in her last start in which she held sway to prevail by a neck under Shaun Bridgmohan after opening a three-length lead passing the furlong pole.

“Shaun mentioned that he got after her pretty good down the lane, and she started flipping tail and resenting it,” Stidham said. “That’s something we’ll have Joe try to stay away from.”

Bridgmohan and Rocco both employ Lenny Pike Jr. as their agent. As this race approached, Pike committed Bridgmohan to another last-out maiden winner, Uno Duo, “and we just said, ‘Sure, we’ll be glad to have Joe,’ ” Stidham said.

Uno Duo, a gray Juddmonte Farms homebred trained by Bill Mott, was a 5 1/4-length winner May 12 and is likely to be favored off that impressive victory.

Other contenders in a well-matched feature include Irish Lute, who was good enough to finish third in the Grade 3 Eight Belles before disappointing in the slop against Sky Girl in a return to the allowance ranks; Born to Jazz, entered for a $75,000 claiming tag after recently rallying to win an easier starter allowance; Anusara, a 5 1/4-length maiden-claiming winner in her only start; and Assets of War, who makes an interesting turn-back from a turf route into this dirt sprint.