04/20/2011 2:42PM

Keeneland: Doubledogdare a challenging spot for Check the Label's return


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Accepting a challenge seems appropriate for a race called the Doubledogdare Stakes. Facing graded company is seldom easy, especially when returning from an extended layoff, and that’s just what a filly named Check the Label will be doing Friday when she runs in the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare at Keeneland.

Graham Motion considered an easier way to have Check the Label begin her 4-year-old season, but when a Keeneland turf allowance failed to fill, Motion decided to make the Doubledogdare the starting point.

KEENELAND: Race-by-race analysis and live video of the Doubledogdare

“As this race got closer, I kind of had it in mind anyway,” Motion said earlier this week from his Fair Hill training center base in Maryland.

Check the Label, a four-time graded stakes winner on turf last year, will be trying Polytrack for just the second time in 15 career starts when she breaks from post 10 under Ramon Dominguez in a field of 13 fillies and mares in the 1 1/16-mile Doubledogdare. The filly was well beaten in her only prior try on Polytrack, but that was in a 4 1/2-furlong race at Woodbine in her career debut at 2.

“That was more a function of distance than the surface,” said Motion. “She trains on Poly here every day, works well on it. She’s done very well here over the winter.”

Check the Label was purchased last fall by the Lael Stables from the filly’s breeder and former owner, Brereton C. Jones, and won the Grade 1 Garden City on the Belmont Park turf in her debut for her new owners. Her last start at 3 resulted in a sixth-place finish here in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October. “She had a break after that for no other reason than she needed it,” said Motion. “She may have had one too many races, but obviously we didn’t know that until we did it.”

A number of graded-worthy opponents will face Check the Label on Friday, most notably Milwaukee Appeal, second here last fall in the Grade 1 Spinster; Denomination, winner of the Grade 3 Hillsborough last out at Tampa for trainer Christophe Clement; and Satans Quick Chick, winner of the Grade 2 Raven Run over the Poly here in 2009.

The Doubledogdare, named for the 1955-56 champion filly trained by Moody Jolley, goes as the ninth of 10 Friday races. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 5:23. Four allowances (races 4, 5, 7, 8) also are on tap.

Haka, with Garrett Gomez riding for Claiborne Farm and Clement, won the 2010 Doubledogdare.

◗ The Friday card will be preceded by a jockey autograph session scheduled to run 90 minutes, from 11-12:30. Numerous active and retired jockeys are scheduled to participate. Fans can buy Keeneland 75th anniversary caps to be signed for $15, with proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

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