04/23/2013 3:37PM

Keeneland notes: Judy the Beauty drops in class for return in Thursday allowance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Judy the Beauty, beaten a nose last summer in the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga, will make her 2013 debut Thursday in a Keeneland allowance.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Judy the Beauty nearly was ready to run last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, but a mid-October workout at Hollywood Park dashed those hopes.

“She bled [internally] that morning,” said Wesley Ward, who owns and trains the speedy chestnut filly. “She’d never bled a drop before that. That was the end of her Breeders’ Cup.”

Duly regrouped, and with her health restored through hyperbaric-chamber treatments and a series of workouts, Judy the Beauty will make her long-awaited return to the races Thursday when dropping in class in the third race at Keeneland, a six-furlong Polytrack allowance worth $64,000 in which she figures to be a huge favorite.

Among her notable performances, Judy the Beauty was beaten just a nose last summer in the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga.

“We’re fortunate this race filled and that we get to ease her back into action in a non-stakes race,” Ward said. “She’s ready to roll. We’re eager to get started on a big year with her.”

Judy the Beauty, now 4, will have leading jockey Joel Rosario aboard when breaking from the outside post in her comeback race.

Meanwhile, Ward, the leading trainer at Keeneland at both the 2012 spring and fall meets, said he was “very sad” to say goodbye to two of his favorite horses Saturday. Both the 6-year-old Strike the Tiger and the 8-year-old New Believer were claimed out of runner-up finishes for $10,000 each.

“I really did hate to see them leave,” he said. “They’ve been a part of the stable for so long. But they’re racehorses. They love to run. You can’t just keep putting them in over their heads because they’re pets. You run them for tags and run the risk of losing them. It’s a part of the game.”

Ward is highly conspicuous by his lack of a starter in the fourth race Thursday, a 4 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. Ward has become known far and wide as a trainer of great prowess with 2-year-olds, and he already has won three such races here this spring with Sweet Emma Rose, Pablo Del Monte, and Mary At the Cove.

“Don’t worry, we should win the last baby race Friday, too,” he said with a grin, referring to his uncoupled pair of No Nay Never and Justice Dept in the second race on the closing-day card.

Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes draws 11

A field of 11 older turf marathoners has been entered for the closing-day feature of the Keeneland spring meet, the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes on Friday, with Reflecting and Al Khali likely to be among the favorites in a well-matched field.

From the rail, this is the Elkhorn field: Sky Blazer, Al Qasr, Side Road, Helicopter, Reflecting, Dark Cove, Macho Bull, Ioya Bigtime, Pool Play, Forte Dei Marmi, and Al Khali.

The $150,000 Elkhorn, the ninth of 10 races Friday, will be run one day after its sister race, the Grade 3 Bewitch. Both go at 1 1/2 miles on grass.

◗ With trainer Charlie LoPresti having said Monday he is “thinking about” a run for Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, that Derby Day race suddenly is drawing even greater interest than usual. Before LoPresti’s revelation, Point of Entry appeared to be a huge favorite for the 1 1/8-mile race.

As for other Woodford Reserve candidates, Churchill is listing the following: Jeranimo, Optimizer, Silver Max, Slim Shadey, and possibly The Pizza Man as a supplementary entry.

◗ Todd Pletcher has close to 20 horses in Barn 34 at Churchill, including several of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. But unlike in some prior years, when he has left a string at Churchill Downs to compete at the remainder of the spring meet, Pletcher will pull up all stakes to race elsewhere.

Pletcher also said he will not be represented with a string at the Arlington Park meet that begins May 3.