04/08/2013 1:21PM

Keeneland: Beijoca taking on Twirl in Wednesday feature

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Tom Keyser
Beijoca was most recently third in the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jimmy Baker will send out a long-striding filly named Beijoca on an abbreviated Wednesday program at Keeneland against a promising Irish-bred whose trainer, Bill Mott, “has some pretty good fillies right now,” Baker said Monday in joking understatement.

Mott, of course, tacked on yet another remarkable weekend to his Hall of Fame career in sending out Close Hatches and Emollient to win the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct and the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland within a span of less than an hour Saturday. Both of those 3-year-old Juddmonte Farms fillies could make their next starts as major contenders in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

On Wednesday, Mott will be represented by a 4-year-old filly named Twirl in the fourth and richest of eight races, a $62,000 second-level allowance scheduled for 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

Twirl, owned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, comes off a sharp runner-up effort racing with Lasix for the first time in a similar three-turn turf race at Gulfstream Park. She figures to come a solid favorite when she has the meet’s leading jockey, Joel Rosario, aboard from post 6.

Beijoca (post 4, Corey Lanerie), most recently third in the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream, was trained by Mott at the outset of her career before being claimed by trainer Steve Margolis and the Klein family of Louisville, Ky., for $75,000 from her third start a little more than a year ago at Gulfstream. Since then, this 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer has won twice, showing a distinct preference for longer races.

Baker, who was en route back home to Kentucky early Monday after wintering in Florida, explained that the Kleins “sent the filly to me for the winter because there weren’t any [marathon] grass races at Fair Grounds,” where Margolis winters. “She ran a couple of pretty nice races, and it was good to get her some graded black type with that placing in the stake. Obviously it takes her a while to get into stride. The longer the race, the better.”

Five other fillies and mares will line up against Twirl and Beijoca: Tivoli, Come Acorkin, Lateegra, Firehouse Red, and Thislilsoulofmine.

First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the nominal feature set for 2:38.

The eight-race card recalls the “Racing As It Was Meant to Be” slogan used by Keeneland marketers in a bygone era. The track went to eight-race Wednesdays last spring for the first time since 1987, although nine-race cards were restored in the fall primarily because of the greater availability to maturing 2-year-olds in helping to fill races.

Incidentally, Wednesday marks the return to Keeneland of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, whose lone mount of the day will come aboard Beyond Compare in the seventh race (post 4:11), a $60,000 first-level turf race and the only other allowance on the card. Stevens’s last mount here came Oct. 27, 2005, with his last Keeneland victory coming five days earlier. Stevens said he intends to miss just one more day (April 21) at the spring meet.

While there are no stakes carded here Wednesday or Thursday, the heart of the 16-day meet follows Friday through Sunday with seven graded stakes, four of them Grade 1 events.