09/16/2009 11:00PM

Ladyledue headed for the big time


AUBURN, Wash. - After reclaiming her position atop Emerald Downs's 3-year-old filly division, Ladyledue will jump into the deep end of the talent pool when she makes her next start in Kentucky, trainer Bonnie Jenne said Wednesday.

Ladyledue crushed six rivals in the $50,000 John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes for state-breds Sunday, her sixth stakes victory in seven career starts, and a resounding comeback statement following her first loss July 19 in the Washington's Lottery Handicap. She is scheduled to ship out from Emerald next Wednesday for Kentucky, where she'll be trained by Ian Wilkes.

Jon Sather, who owns Ladyledue, said there was no specific race in her immediate plans. He said she likely would make at least one start this fall at Keeneland or Churchill Downs, and then take part in a winter campaign at Gulfstream Park.

If the Fletcher Stakes was her final run at Emerald, Ladyledue went out in style, storming to a 3 1/4-length victory over favored Point of Reference. Rallying from just off the pace, she ran one mile in 1:35.60 and paid $7.

Jenne had mixed feelings when discussing her star pupil Wednesday.

"My guess is she won't be back, which is a shame because the people really liked her and she could have been a draw next year," Jenne said. "I don't want to lose her, but I think it's best for her. I think she deserves the chance. To me, she's one of the most impressive 3-year-old fillies that's been around in a while."

Sather, who resides in Manson, Wash., and owns a ranch in Oklahoma, said he contacted Wilkes a few days ago, and the Australian-born trainer was eager to welcome Ladyledue into his barn. Wilkes, who has trained in the U.S. for more than 20 years, recorded his first Grade 1 stakes victory three weeks ago when 3-year-old Capt. Candyman Can was placed first via disqualification in the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga.

"I've heard a lot about Ian," Sather said. "He's really qualified, and he's got a great track record with 3-year-old fillies. I've been thinking about this for a while, and to find out if she's good enough or not, I have to send her down to Southern California or back East. I was concerned about the tracks in Southern California, they're having some problems with the artificial surfaces, and the level of competition is about the same."