05/23/2013 5:00PM

Parx Racing: Winning Image aims for repeat in My Juliet Stakes

Email
Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo
Winning Image will be making her 2013 debut when she defends her crown in Saturday's My Juliet Stakes.

One mare who hasn’t raced in five months and another who just ran last weekend figure to vie for favoritism in Saturday’s $75,000 My Juliet Stakes for older female sprinters at Parx Racing.

Winning Image, who won last year’s My Juliet, when it was worth $150,000, and Withgreatpleasure, who failed in her bid for back-to-back Grade 2 victories in the May 18 Vagrancy Hanidicap at Belmont Park, are the prime contenders in a field of six going six furlongs on dirt.

A three-time stakes winner last season, Winning Image will be launching her 6-year-old campaign. The last time she returned following a break of more than 60 days, Winning Image set the pace and finished second in the six-furlong Endine at Delaware Park last October.

She shows five workouts since early March for her comeback, including a best of 39 four-furlong breeze in 46.20 seconds May 7. Winning Image gets into the race at 117 pounds, five fewer than she carried while earning a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the 2012 My Juliet.

The 5-year-old Withgreatpleasure upset the Grade 2 Ruffian going a mile at 14-1 in early April but wasn’t nearly as effective at 6 1/2 furlongs in last weekend’s Vagrancy, where she made a mild rally to finish third. Her trainer, David Nunn, is only 1 for his last 10 with dirt sprinters back in seven days or fewer.

Two viable alternatives to the logical choices are Appealing Stella and Villette, both of whom own stakes victories within their past two starts.

The 5-year-old Appealing Stella closed out her 2012 season by winning the six-furlong Minaret at Tampa Bay Downs and has been freshened since finishing a close third in the Manatee on Feb. 9. She worked a bullet five furlongs for her comeback at Monmouth Park on May 1. Her trainer, Jane Cibelli, is 6 for 32 (19 percent) with female sprinters returning following a break of 61 to 180 days. That includes a win by Appealing Stella in December at Gulfstream Park.

The 4-year-old Villette scored against Pennsylvania-breds in last month’s seven-furlong Foxy J.G. Her trainer, John Servis, shows a 4-for-9 record (44 percent) with last-out female sprinters making the second start of their form cycle. Villette is 5 for 10 at Parx and has won three of her last four starts dating back to November.