06/21/2012 11:45AM

Weekend Warrior for June 23: One filly stands out in Churchill's Debutante

Shigeki Kikkawa
Eden's Moon stopped badly in the Kentucky Oaks, but looks dangerous in the Hollywood Oaks if she gets an uncontested early lead.

Three of the four graded stakes on Saturday are for 3-year-old fillies. Those races are the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, which drew a strong but small field of five; the Grade 2, $150,000 Hollywood Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Boiling Springs Stakes on the turf at Monmouth Park. The remaining graded stakes Saturday is also for fillies, but the Grade 3, $100,000 Debutante at Churchill Downs is for 2-year-old females.

There is also a pair of ungraded, $150,000 stakes Saturday, the Sweet and Sassy at Delaware Park, and the Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing.

Debutante Stakes

Obviously, there’s little established form to go on in this early-season 2-year-old stakes as only three of the 10 entrants have started more than once. However, that doesn’t mean this isn’t an interesting race to talk about.

My hope here is that fillies such as Richie’slilcowgirl and Dancing Elliebelle take money. I don’t see why they wouldn’t take at least some. Richie’slilcowgirl was purchased privately after she ran off and hid in her debut at Arlington, and is now making her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. Dancing Elliebelle was hammered down to odds-on in her debut at Canterbury and will now race with Lasix for the first time. In any case, I’m hoping these two, and some others, attract action because I think the strength of this race lies with three fillies who turned in eye-catching performances over the Churchill track – Blueeyesintherein, Shesakitty, and Floral Sky.

Floral Sky was the first of this trio to appear. She was well bet in a short field and overcame breaking a step slowly to score. However, what was most impressive about her performance was the quick outside move she made on the turn to engage the front-runner.

But I think Blueeyesintherein and Shesakitty were even more impressive finishing one-two in their recent debuts. And though Shesakitty finished almost four lengths behind Blueeyesintherein at the wire, she deserves plenty of respect Saturday. Shesakitty broke four to five lengths slow in that 4 1/2-furlong dash and then was patiently allowed to gather herself. That meant Shesakitty quickly found herself at a double-digit disadvantage, which is a big hole to be overcome in such a short race. But she showed real ability when she rolled past opponents on the outside through the stretch, and was out well past the wire.

Shesakitty’s performance was such an eye-catcher that for some, it might have partially overshadowed Blueeyesintherein’s effort, and that might manifest itself on the tote board Saturday. That would be okay with me because I like Blueeyesintherein.

Blueeyesintherein was right with the pace in her debut, a point that should not be overlooked as who’s to say Shesakitty might not drop out of it early again this time. Most impressively, after Blueeyesintherein took command in the stretch, she was taken well in hand through the final sixteenth of a mile, yet still scored by a significant margin. And while Shesakitty was out well past the wire, so was Blueeyesintherein. In fact, these two engaged in their own out-well contest, and it is not insignificant that Blueeyesintherein also won that one comfortably.

Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap

Outside of a brief period a few weeks ago when the rail wasn’t the Death Valley it often is, the wider the better is usually the case at Parx, and that often translates to closers who far more often than not take to the outside for a clear path to rally. Rod’s Five Star and Toby’s Corner are closers, and are the two in here with the profile I’m seeking.

For Toby’s Corner, this is certainly a much easier spot than the Pimlico Special, where he finished seventh last time out, the New Orleans Handicap, where he finished a distant third two starts back, or even the General George Handicap, where he was a close third three starts back. Toby’s Corner also makes the route-to-seven-furlong cut back in distance I like. But I fear that his class lines (Toby’s Corner also won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial last year) won’t be lost on the betting public, and that he won’t offer much value in the win pool.

I’m going with Rod’s Five Star, a Parx specialist who has made all nine of his career starts over the track and has won six of them. Beyond having the running style I want, Rod’s Five Star comes into this off a decisive victory in which he earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 99. Moreover, Rod’s Five Star is repeating the same training pattern that preceded his most recent score (a sharp half-mile breeze eight days out), and is backed by the hot Edward Lehman barn that sends out nothing but live runners.

Hollywood Oaks

Despite facing a trio of Grade 1 stakes winners in Eden’s Moon, Willa B Awesome, and Killer Graces, it would be no surprise if Potesta turns into a “wise guy” horse here. Potesta was favored in her debut sprinting two starts back and came from well back to finish second. She was odds-on in her second and most recent appearance going Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile distance over the track, and she ran off to an 11 1/2-length score, earning a competitive Beyer of 90. But while Potesta won easily, she also had a very easy lead through soft fractions, and beat a suspect field. Potesta might be a very nice filly, but I will let her beat me here as a potential underlay.

I like Eden’s Moon because this is a favorable spot for her to rebound. Eden’s Moon’s performance last time out in the Kentucky Oaks, a distant 14th and last, was ugly. She did check into the first turn and then raced in a bit of traffic, but she surrendered going into the far turn. Eden’s Moon also disappointed two starts back as the 1-2 favorite in the Santa Anita Oaks, finishing third after conceding the early lead. But that isn’t Eden’s Moon’s most effective style. She’s best when she’s on the early lead, as she showed with a strong score in the Las Virgenes three starts back. Eden’s Moon can get the early lead on this field.