08/10/2017 2:06PM

Grand Jete tries to prove Grade 1 mettle in Beverly D. Stakes

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Grand Jete is 3 for 3 in 2017 and will get her first Grade 1 test in Saturday's Beverly D. Stakes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Chad Brown these days often finds that his strongest competition in filly-and-mare turf stakes comes from Chad Brown.

Take Arlington’s Beverly D., which Brown can win Saturday for the third year in a row and the fourth time overall. Brown, who won this race with Sea Calisi last year, Watsdachances in 2015, and Stacelita in 2011, has three of the 10 entrants – Grand Jete, Dacita, and Rainha Da Bateria.

But in this Beverly D., there are several challengers coming from outside the house of Brown.

Hawksmoor, Rain Goddess, and, in particular, Dona Bruja look capable of relegating Brown to a Beverly D. silver medal this year.

The rest of the field is not hopeless either, with Prado’s Sweet Ride, Kitten’s Roar, Zipessa, and Sarandia all solid graded-stakes-level horses.

The 1 3/16-mile Beverly D. is carded as race 10 with a scheduled post time of 5:35 Central. It’s a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, giving the winner a fees-paid entry into the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

At 4-1, Dacita is the shortest price on the Arlington morning line among the Brown trio, but Grand Jete has greater upside.

A 4-year-old Juddmonte Farms homebred, Grand Jete during an eight-start 2016 campaign in France for trainer David Smaga never even sniffed a group-level stakes race. She has looked like a different horse racing on Lasix and in America this year. Grand Jete is 3 for 3 in 2017, with wins in Keeneland and Belmont allowance races and in the Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth. Those are far from world-class affairs, but Grand Jete is best appreciated visually. She relaxes beautifully for her rider – Joel Rosario on Saturday – and blasts home ferociously.

“A tremendous turn of foot, and she acts like she’s a Grade 1-level horse,” said Brown, who runs Grand Jete farther than 1 1/16 miles for the first time this year.

“The distance is a question, but the filly sure moves like a horse that will get the added ground,” said Brown, who thinks enough of Grand Jete to have matched her as a workout partner with the likes of Antonoe and Time Test.

As fast as Grand Jete finishes, Dona Bruja might pack a stronger late punch. She showed as much in winning the Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs in her first start since being imported from Argentina, and even more so at Arlington in the Modesty Handicap last month.

There, Dona Bruja went from fifth by several lengths at the top of the stretch all the way to the lead at the furlong pole with jockey Dylan Cannon sitting still. The race was over before Cannon even had asked his horse for run, with Dona Bruja flying her last 1 1/2 furlongs in less than 17 seconds.

“She looks fantastic, and she’s training great,” said trainer Ignacio Correas, who, like Dona Bruja, is a native of Argentina. “Now we’ll see if she has the class to beat these horses.”

Dacita, a 6-year-old on Northern Hemisphere time, also began her career in South America, racing in Chile, before being imported and turned over to Brown. The fast-ground specialist beat champion Tepin in the Ballston Spa two summers ago at Saratoga and won the Grade 1 Diana there last year. She has potential excuses for two losses this year (wet turf in the Beaugay, a slow pace in the New York) but might not be quite the same horse as a year ago.

“She’s shown me signs that she’s the same, but not consistently throughout the season so far,” said Brown. “I think that she still has that good race in her.”

Rainha Da Bateria seeks her first Grade 1 win and will be held up for one late run that probably will fall short, especially if the Beverly D. pace is modest. But her owner, Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables, also has a front-running contender in Hawksmoor.

Trained by Arnaud Delacour, Hawksmoor was to start in the Diana before an illness cost her a week’s training. The bug is long gone, Delacour said, and Hawksmoor could be too if she’s allowed to control the pace like she did in winning the New York Stakes by one length over Quidura, who confirmed that race’s form with a near miss in the Diana.

“I don’t think she needs to lead,” said Delacour. “Her last two races, on paper there was no pace at all. I always leave it up to the jock, especially Julien, since he’s a very good judge of pace.”

Julien Leparoux and Hawksmoor break from post 9 and should find themselves leading or getting a good pressing trip outside of Zipessa, who raced forwardly and finished third in this race a year ago.

Breaking from post 10, a deleterious draw, is Rain Goddess, who would become the second 3-year-old Beverly D. winner and the first for trainer Aidan O’Brien were she to triumph. Rain Goddess gets credit for finishing second last out in the Irish Oaks to Enable, who returned to crush Group 1 older males and become the early favorite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

But Rain Goddess was more than five lengths behind Enable that day, is still eligible for a first-level allowance race, and has not yet shown the electric acceleration displayed by Dona Bruja and Grand Jete. She gets six pounds from those horses, but it might not be enough.