06/10/2010 12:00AM

It's Tea Time back on surface she likes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When trainer Rusty Arnold went looking for a race for It's Tea Time after her ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on April 30, one spot quickly came to mind: the Grade 3 Regret at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

As it happens, the race popped into the minds of the trainers of 12 other 3-year-old fillies who were also entered in the Regret, making it the deepest and arguably the most competitive of the four undercard stakes supporting the Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Other prominent entries in the $125,000 Regret include stakes winners Go Alex Go, Joharmony, Jody Slew, and Dynazapper -- plus such promising runners as Queen of the Creek, Beautician, and Snow Top Mountain.

Despite the Regret's quality, the race is not on par with the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, one of the strongest stakes contested for 3-year-old fillies every year. And that is a class drop It's Tea Time should appreciate, along with a return to turf, a surface over which she has won. She has not won on dirt.

"We went back to where we were proven," said Arnold, who trains the filly for owner-breeder Alex Campbell Jr.

Garrett Gomez rides It's Tea Time, whose race preceding the Oaks was a second in the Grade 1 Ashland on Polytrack.

Another Kentucky Oaks dropper, Grade 3 Silverbulletday winner Jody Slew, looms one of the principal contenders. Although she has raced exclusively on dirt this year, most recently finishing 13th in the Oaks, she ran her best race at 2 over the Churchill Downs turf course Nov. 28, finishing third behind Sheer Beauty and Check the Label in the Caressing Handicap.

It was the strength of that race that motivated owners Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan to privately purchase Jody Slew last fall, trainer Bret Calhoun said.