Strong Field in Jessamine Needs No Explanation

Jessamine (Grade 2) (BC)- $350.000 Purse
KEE- For Fillies Two Years Old
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
October 6, 2023

The eyes of the virtual racing world will be on KEE on Friday, with multiple “win and you’re in” races being held for the BC. One of them is the Jessamine, which is a Grade 2 race for two-year-old fillies on the turf, therefore sending its winner to the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. The race debuted on the schedule in 2004 as an ungraded stake for $100.000, and recently we have seen the prestige of the race increase, as it is now up to the Grade 2 classification. The $350.000 purse was first seen last year. In that race, Luz International took home the win with a filly named Your Demise. She did not do much in the BC and has been decent as a three-year-old, but more was likely desired. Don’t write her off quite yet though. This year, the gate will be full, and here is a look at the twelve heading to the starting gate.

#1- Let Me Explain (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- We start this off with a horse that figures to be one of the top contenders, as she rides a three-race winning streak into the Jessamine. Those aren’t just any three races, however, as they include the $150.000 Bolton Landing from SAR, and the $500.000 Untapable Stakes at KD. She’s certainly made herself known as one of the top horses in this division, but this will be her third race in six weeks. It’s also the first time that she will be going long, and I am interested in seeing how she fares with that.

#2- Vested Interest (Arindel, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- She is a maiden, but if you were watching the Miss Grillo on Sunday, you know that maidens can and will win two-year-old stakes. This is not the type of maiden that I worry about, either, because she’s coming here off an excellent effort, where she was second in the $500.000 KD Juvenile Fillies last month. That was in a dead heat, and the horse that she was in a dead heat with, The Wire, was a dud in the Miss Grillo. If she is the same way, then we have to consider the KD Juvenile Fillies as being soft, other than its winner.

#3- Bank Run (Big Guns Stables, ridden by F Prat)- Speaking of maidens winning the Miss Grillo, Big Guns Stables and F Prat teamed up to get that victory, with Schrodinger Con. Bank Run is definitely not a maiden, as she was won two out of three thus far, but this would be another big score for the trainer if she has pulled it off. For now, she is looking to rebound from being fifth by a length in the OT Juvenile Fillies Turf last month, and she will see some familiar faces in the process.

#4- Fragrant (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Silvera)- The Apples To Oranges filly has won one of her three starts up to this point, with that victory coming against ON-Breds in July. Off of that, she was entered into the $150.000 Johnson at SAR and run a strong race, only to finish second best. If she can build on that, she could wind up in the mix in here, but they’re others in this field who I simply find more appealing.

#5- Fruit Fly (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L J Luzzi)- It took this filly three tries to break her maiden, and when it came, it was on yielding turf in a $12.000 race at LAD. Two months later, she was entered in the OT Juvenile Fillies Turf and finished that one better than I would have expected. Her works aren’t bad, but they do not really stand out as others are working a full second quicker. But that last race would suggest that she’s a horse that knows how to show up on race day. I don’t know if I am fully convinced, however.

#6- Action Girl (Diablo Diablo, ridden by L Saez)- Last month, she was the one that ended up defeated Fragrant in the $150.000 Johnson at SAR, and the impressive part about that for Action Girl, as she was on less than three weeks rest for that. It would be her third win in four starts, but it was the first time that she had run in a stake. She’s a good, consistent worker, and if she pulled this off, you would have to consider her one of the better choices for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

#7- Rene West Rubicon (Oquinn Farm, ridden by F Pennington)- Took on a couple of the horses she sees here in the Jessamine last month in the OT Juvenile Fillies Turf. In that, Rene West Rubicon came from well off the pace to wind up second, missing the head bob at the wire to Purp Plan. Overall, she’s managed one win over her four career starts, and it remains to be seen if she will look to utilize another off the pace tactic.

#8- Velocidad Construida (First Flight Stable)- Three weeks ago, this filly broke her maiden out at AQU, while coming from behind in the stretch. Off of that, the trainer is going to see what she can do against an increased level of competition, since time is running out to get a horse into the BC. There’s not alot to go by with this one, but I do like how she is working, and I’m not really concerned about her going here on short rest, since she had a three-month layoff before that start.

#9- Iffy (Mb Stables, ridden by D E Centeno)- Mb Stables brings three to the starting gate here for the Jessamine, and with Iffy, this is a horse that is coming off of her maiden win. It took four starts for her to finally do that, and the main reason for that may simply be that she was waiting to add distance. She has all the looks of a horse that we’ll be talking about over and over again, and if she doesn’t have a big race here, I would not worry about her over the long term.

#10- Hardball (Smokey Stover, ridden by J R Velazquez)- After two wins in her first three starts, Hardball will be stepping up to the plate at the stake level for the first time. She last ran in late August and put together a dominant three length win in an allowance at SAR, so moving her up is the logical move. Worked very well at PRX in anticipation of this, and in general, those works are showing some very nice improvement each time. Hardball is another one that I expect to see at this level for quite some time, even if things don’t go according to plan here.

#11- Reaper Lightning (Arkansas Elite, ridden by G W Corbett)- Won the first two races of her career, but neither were for purses that are going to intimidate any of her rivals. She’s since been second twice, and it is those races that are the more appealing performances. Jumped up to the stake level in August for the Bolton Landing at SAR, and then last month, ran in the $500.000 Untapable Stakes at KD, and running second in those is something to be excited about. The winner of those races was Let Me Explain, who starts on the rail here.

#12- Beat Down (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R M Hernandez)- In April, she won her debut race at SA, and after two months of waiting for her next race, she ended up struggling in both the Astoria at BEL and the Grade 3 Adirondack at SAR. That would lead to the trainer changing things up by moving her to the turf and Beat Down really stepped up by running third in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes three weeks ago. Her recent work at AQU is faster than any of those she is running against here, so as long as she doesn’t mind the quick turnaround, she should be fine.

Prediction: 1-2-11-10

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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