04/14/2011 12:44PM

Keeneland: Gypsy's Warning faces tough assignment off the bench in Jenny Wiley

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Last year they accounted for the Grade 1 Matriarch, the Grade 1 Beverly D., the Grade 2 Canadian, a couple of Group 3 races in France, and nearly a dozen more stakes of lesser stature. Collectively, the oversubscribed field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes is quite an accomplished one.

But that won’t help anybody pick a winner in the Jenny Wiley, which will be run over the Keeneland turf for the 23rd time Saturday. And Graham Motion isn’t much help in regard to Gypsy’s Warning, the South African-bred mare he sent out to capture the Matriarch in her last start more than four months ago.

“She basically got the month of December off at Palm Meadows,” said Motion. “We turned her out in the round pen and let her down for a while. She started back the first of the year and hasn’t missed a beat since then. All my good turf fillies were on that same routine.”

The obvious question left unanswered is whether Gypsy’s Warning will be sharp and fit enough to win off the bench in what shapes up as a wicked return spot. The rugged opposition includes Eclair de Lune, heroine of the Beverly D. last summer for Arlington Park chairman Richard Duchossois; Miss Keller, who really came to hand last fall for Roger Attfield in winning the Canadian and finishing second in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor; and Zagora, a French-bred 4-year-old who won two group races in her native land before being sent here last fall to finish second in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup.

Gypsy’s Warning, owned in partnership by Team Valor International, will have Joel Rosario back aboard when breaking from post 11. Rosario rode her for the first time last fall in her 1 1/4-length Matriarch score.

An honest pace seems likely to develop in the 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley, a scenario that might favor a closer such as Gypsy’s Warning. Ice Mist is an obvious front-runner, while mares such as Never Retreat, Forest Uproar, Kiss Mine, and C.S. Silk all have shown a willingness to go forwardly placed in prior outings.

For a sleeper, one could do worse than the Juddmonte Farms homebred, Aviate, who was a creditable third behind Never Retreat in her North American debut, the March 5 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Bill Mott, the British-bred Aviate certainly stands to benefit from that start, her first in more than four months.

In all, 14 are entered in the Jenny Wiley, with Valli With a Vow and Spring Party being the also-eligibles in a race limited to 12 starters.

Over the years, the Jenny Wiley has become a key early-season race in the filly and mare turf division, with such standouts as Intercontinental (2004-05) and Forever Together (2009) appearing on its roster of winners. Wasted Tears won last year with Rajiv Maragh riding for owner-trainer Bart Evans.

The Jenny Wiley directly precedes the Blue Grass Stakes as the eighth of 10 Saturday races.

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