10/09/2012 2:08PM

Keeneland: Summer of Fun among top Jessamine contenders

Barbara D. Livingston
Summer of Fun won a two-turn maiden turf race on the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes undercard at Saratoga. under Eddie Castro..

LEXINGTON, Ky. – George Weaver will be back at his old Kentucky home Thursday, hoping that a filly named Summer of Fun can provide him a memorable autumn here and in California following wildly divergent efforts in New York and Canada.

Summer of Fun is among a bevy of viable contenders in the eighth and final Win and You’re In event of the Keeneland meet, the Grade 3, $150,000 Jessamine Stakes. The winner gets an expenses-paid berth into the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.

[JESSAMINE STAKES: Get Keeneland PPs, watch Thursday's card live]

Weaver, who grew up in Louisville and frequently attended the races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs with his father, has operated a successful stable in New York since 2002 after working under D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher. He was elated to see Summer of Fun win a two-turn maiden turf race on the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes undercard at Saratoga, then disappointed to see her run 10th in the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes on a yielding turf at Woodbine three weeks later.

“We like this filly a lot, and I was pretty confident she would do well in the race she won on Travers Day,” said Weaver, 41. “The race in Canada, we sure didn’t go over there to finish 10th. She was bogging down and bobbling and actually never had much of a chance to run when behind horses. We’re taking the race for what it was and sending her to Keeneland with the idea that she fits really well in there.”

Summer of Fun, with Eddie Castro back to ride, is one of 13 2-year-old fillies (including one also-eligible) in the 1 1/16-mile Jessamine, the eighth of nine Thursday races. A daughter of Include, she was bought at auction in March by the Bona Venture Stables of Dan Collins.

With just one exception – Zip Cash Back, a maiden winner at Indiana Downs and a minor stakes winner at Colonial Downs – every starter in the Jessamine has won one time. That makes for some difficult handicapping, and surely the odds board will reflect as much when the field enters the gate at 4:49 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:05.

The lukewarm morning-line favorite at 7-2 is Always Kitten, whose first career win came in the Happy Ticket Stakes on the Sept. 8 Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs. Julien Leparoux has the call for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

Other Jessamine starters listed at single-digit program odds include Summer of Fun; Sunset Time, a last-out maiden winner at Kentucky Downs; Kitten’s Point, an eye-catching debut winner at Presque Isle Downs; Oscar Party, winner of the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies for her lone triumph; and Hedonemewrongsong, a first-out Saratoga winner at 21-1 for Jonathan Sheppard.

This is the 22nd running of the Jessamine. The 2008 winner, Laragh, went on to capture the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. The 2011 winner, Somali Lemonade, is one of the projected starters Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.