10/05/2017 12:46PM

Hawksmoor targeting first Grade 1 in First Lady

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Debra A. Roma
Hawksmoor, who won the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont in June, seeks to rebound off a dull effort in the Grade 1 Beverly D.

German 1000 Guineas winner Hawksmoor was also a Group 3 winner in England, Group 1 placed in England and France, and Group 2 placed in Ireland when she arrived in the United States last fall to contest the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. She showed she could hold her own on this continent as well, beaten just a head by Time and Motion and Harmonize.

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Now a multiple graded stakes winner in New York for trainer Arnaud Delacour, Hawksmoor returns to Keeneland for Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady Stakes. The one-mile race carries an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and would be the first Grade 1 win for Hawksmoor.

Delacour said owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson sent her to the U.S. last fall to see how she would handle firm ground.

“After she ran well here, the Jacksons made the decision to leave her here,” he said.

Hawksmoor finished sixth in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill last December, which Delacour attributes to a long campaign taking its toll. Following an extended winter break, she returned to win the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 13 over Dacita and Time and Motion, and the Grade 2 New York on June 9 over Quidura. In August, she finished seventh in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington, won by Dacita.

“She got sick two or three weeks after the New York,” Delacour said. “We tried the Beverly D., but I don’t think she was at her best. After that, we got ready for the fall. There were a lot of options, but she ran well here and the course is not a concern.”

The other First Lady entrant with Grade 1 form at Keeneland is Dickinson, whose trio of graded stakes victories earlier this year included a head triumph in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley over Lady Eli. Most recently, Dickinson was second by a half-length to that divisional leader in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga. Another neck back in third was Roca Rojo, also entered in the First Lady. Winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile in May, Roca Rojo enters Saturday’s race off back-to-back losses.

Dona Bruja, a Group 1 winner in her native Argentina, won her first two starts after coming to Ignacio Correas in the U.S., taking the Grade 3 Mint Julep at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Modesty at Arlington. She was second by a half-length in the Beverly D.

“I’ve been watching her for like a year before on TV, running her races in Argentina,” Correas said. “I think that she was probably one of the best turf fillies that I saw in my country in the last 25 years.”

Delectation, a multiple Group 3 winner in England and Germany, is making her first start in the U.S. Grade 3 winner Zipessa and minor stakes winner One Liz complete the field.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Hawksmoor, by Azamour
Last 3 Beyers: 97-102-100

◗ She is effective on the lead, where she should have company from Zipessa.

◗ Drew outside in the field of seven under regular rider Julien Leparoux.

◗ Won the Beaugay on yielding turf, and should handle cut in the ground if wet weather forecast for Saturday night moves in early.

Dickinson, by Medaglia d’Oro
Last 3 Beyers: 102-95-98

◗ Drawn just inside Hawksmoor under Paco Lopez, Dickinson has tactical speed. She usually sits just off the pace, but did show the early way in the Ballston Spa when no others stepped up.

◗ Owns the top last-out Beyer Speed Figure of this group.

Dona Bruja, by Storm Embrujado
Last 3 Beyers: 101-99-103

◗ The 103 she earned in her U.S. debut is the field’s top Beyer in 2017.