Dickinson Takes On Small But Select First Lady Field

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

October 6th, 2017

A return to the scene of her biggest triumph could help Dickinson get home in the First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 7.

Dickinson became a grade one winner when she took out the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) at the Keeneland spring meet, defeating Lady Eli. She’s since gone three races without a win, twice finishing behind Lady Eli, who’s not present for this race.

However, while it may be missing Lady Eli, Dacita, and Miss Temple City, Dickinson will still have to be at her best to win the First Lady Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race which secures entry for the winner into the Filly & Mare Turf.

Four of the seven contestants are rated between 2-1 and 4-1 on the morning line, and there are reasons to seriously consider at least two of the others as well.

Favorite at 2-1 is Roca Rojo, from the Chad Brown stable. She’s seeking her first grade one victory and contests the race after finishing third to Lady Eli and Dickinson in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.

Argentine-bred Dona Bruja is rated at 5-2 alongside Dickinson after a good first U.S. campaign in which she won a pair of grade three races and finished second to Dacita in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1). Just behind them, at 4-1, is Hawksmoor, who won twice at Belmont Park before finishing seventh in the Beverly D.

Zipessa is rated 10-1 on the morning line but she shouldn’t be ignored either. Though she was just ninth in the Beverly D., she then finished just a neck behind Miss Temple City at level weights in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3).

The interesting runner is the German-trained, Australian-owned filly Delectation. She failed in the French 1,000 Guineas (G1) before finishing fourth in the German 1,000 Guineas (G2), fifth in the Falmouth Stakes (G1) behind multiple grade one winner Roly Poly, and winning the Grosse Europa Meile (G3) in Germany.

European turf form usually translates well to North America, but in a good year for U.S. female turf runners, that form may not be strong enough for this race.

In a race with plenty of depth, tactics could be key, but there’s plenty of reason to like Dickinson and Dona Bruja in particular, with Zipessa one to consider at odds.