10/26/2012 3:17PM

Churchill Downs: Sign to be tested in Pocahontas

Tom Keyser
Sign covered six furlongs in 1:10.37 in her debut at Saratoga, posting an 82 Beyer Speed Figure, but against a field below Saratoga standards.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Debuting in late August at Saratoga, Sign was largely ignored at 10-1 odds but proved dominant, emphatically winning by 11 1/2 lengths from just off the pace.

Returning two months later in Sunday’s opening-day Grade 2, $150,000 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, her longshot days are over. Off that single race, she has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite against seven more experienced rivals that include Matron third-place Seasoned Warrior and Arlington-Washington Lassie runner-up La Song.

Trainer Al Stall, who trains Sign for owners/breeders Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, said the one-mile Pocahontas became the target for her, rather than a race at Keeneland, because of her having worked much better on dirt this summer at Saratoga than over the Polytrack at Keeneland earlier this year.

Her Churchill breezes in preparation for the Pocahontas have left him impressed, particularly her longer drills. He described her as “Cadillacing all the way around there” in breezing five furlongs in 1:01 Sept. 30 and in 1:00.80 Oct. 7.

A class test awaits in the Pocahontas. Although Sign ran quickly in winning Aug. 26, covering six furlongs in 1:10.37 and posting an 82 Beyer Speed Figure, she did so against a field below Saratoga standards.

Of the five fillies behind her to subsequently race, not a single one fared better than third in their next start.

Sign is bred to relish the mile distance of the Pocahontas, being by Blue Grass winner Pulpit out of Cross, a stakes winner at mile on turf at Santa Anita. Rosie Napravnik rides.

The aptly named Seasoned Warrior looms a formidable rival, having raced twice in graded company after a maiden win in her second start this summer at Saratoga. She ran fourth in the Grade 1 Spinaway Sept. 20, and then was a distant third behind Kauai Katie in the Grade 2 Matron for trainer Bill Mott.

Joel Rosario, in from New York to ride at Churchill Downs on Sunday, has the mount.

The early target for both will likely be La Song. She weakened to eighth after setting a blistering pace in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 5.

Other notable entries include Danlake, a minor stakes winner at the distance at Delaware for Todd Pletcher, and Gal About Town, who is unbeaten in two starts.