09/05/2013 2:47PM

Kentucky Downs: Opening day features three stakes for fillies and mares

Barbara D. Livingston
Magical Moon drew the far-outside No. 11 post for Saturday's Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint.

Hard-core horseplayers should really enjoy these. Back-to-back-to-back stakes scheduled for Saturday at Kentucky Downs combine the elements they always say they want: big fields, turf, no heavy favorites, a melting-pot look, and classy horses trained and ridden by top-notch horsemen.

The opening-day card at the south-central Kentucky track begins at 1:35 p.m. Central with a $75,000 maiden race. Each of the 10 races attracted fields of 10 or more, with no fewer than 11 entries in the trio of co-featured filly and mare stakes.

Magical Moon faces older horses

Magical Moon (post 11, Joe Rocco Jr.) always has been held in very high regard by trainer Al Stall Jr., who will otherwise be busy Saturday when saddling Departing as a heavy favorite in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. The 3-year-old filly faces older horses when favorably drawn on the outside for the $150,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (race 7, post 4:35 p.m.), a 6 1/2-furlong race for which she has been pegged the 5-2 morning-line favorite.

Her chief threats also got outside posts: Soft Whisper (post 10, Corey Lanerie), a consistent filly who adds blinkers after finishing second as the favorite in a grass route on the West Virginia Derby undercard; Cat Lore (post 9, Jimmy Graham), a two-back allowance winner going short on the Arlington turf; and To My Valentine (post 8, David Flores), a last-out winner on the Saratoga turf.

“I loved her last race,” said Wesley Ward, trainer of To My Valentine. “We knew she’d been training well, and that race showed it.”

Ward said he intended to be on hand Saturday following a flight into Nashville from his Florida home.

Deep field for Ladies Turf

One indicator to the depth of the one-mile, $150,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (race 8, post 5:05) is that Nashindy (post 10, Alex Cintron), unbeaten in three career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.

That’s because there are so many more from which to choose in this full field of 12. The very lukewarm (4-1) program favorite is Run a Risk (post 3, Victor Lebron), a last-out winner of a second-level turf allowance at Saratoga for Rusty Arnold.

Other considerations include Dancing to Town (post 2, Rocco), who earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure in her last race in Kentucky; Sisterhood (post 5, Flores), exiting the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar; and Dame Marie (post 12, Lanerie), a consistent Smart Strike filly exiting the Grade 3 Modesty at Arlington.

Highly competitive Ladies Marathon

Mystical Star (post 3, Brice Blanc) was good enough to win the Grade 2 New York Handicap last year on the Belmont Park turf for Christophe Clement, and she has continued to perform well in this niche, a main reason she is the 3-1 program favorite for the $150,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon (race 9, post 5:35), a 1 5/16-mile race.

Other players in yet another highly competitive cast include Midnight Music (post 10, Mark Guidry), an Irish filly with solid American form, and Layali Dubai (post 11, Flores), a Godolphin Racing filly seeking her first American stakes win.

Sheppard has a sleeper in Angel Terrace (post 5, Cintron), whose effort as a winning longshot last fall in a division of the Valley View on the Keeneland turf was the best of her career.