12/30/2010 12:46PM

My Irish Girl looks sharp in Minaret Stakes

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
My Irish Girl, winner of the Miss Woodford at Monmouth on Aug. 28, will make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday's Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – My Irish Girl, winner of 7 of 9 outings last season as a 3-year-old and a late-closing third in her first local start, tops a full field of 14 fillies and mares in the $50,000 Minaret Stakes, a six-furlong stakes that headlines Saturday’s 10-race card at Tampa Bay Downs.

My Irish Girl was claimed by Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc from a win in a $15,000 race March 12 at Oaklawn. She went on to run off a string of five more wins in a row, including stakes wins in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper Stakes at Canterbury and the $100,000 Miss Woodford Stakes at Monmouth.

After finishing ninth in the Ontario Fashion Stakes over the Woodbine Polytrack, My Irish Girl came back at Tampa in a Dec. 11 prep for the Minaret and was steadily gaining inside late to be third, beaten just 1 3/4 lengths in the six-furlong race run in 1:10.60.

Huber Villa-Gomez will handle My Irish Girl for trainer Jamie Ness.

While My Irish Girl will no doubt get considerable backing Saturday, there are several other intriguing entrants in the field, including Noisy Feet, who will be making her first start for trainer Tom Proctor in the Minaret. Proctor, who sports a 23 percent win rate with runners making their first start in his care, says he will be looking for Noisy Feet to tell him what kind of competitor she is Saturday.

“We bought her out of a sale in September,” Proctor said, “and while she’s trained along in a steady fashion since she got in the barn, I really don’t know what to expect from her in this race. I’m hoping this race will tell me a bit more about where she belongs.”

Noisy Feet, previously trained by Tim Hills, was beaten a nose in the 2009 Miss Woodford and won just a single race from eight starts in 2010 while racing against high-priced optional claiming and stakes company. That win came in her last start, the six-furlong College of New Jersey Stakes on Oct. 16 at Monmouth.

Landing My Way, who tries stakes company for the first time after winning her last three at Calder, also deserves a long look along with Jehan, who moves from turf to dirt after a fourth in the Lightning City Stakes, and Stormy Publisher, who won the Glowing Honor Stakes going six furlongs on the turf in her only U.S. start.