Taylor Stakes (Grade 1)- $750.000 Purse
WO- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Turf
October 8, 2023
On Sunday at WO, a field of seven fillies and mares will be heading to the starting gate for the 18th running of the Taylor Stakes, and one of them will be hoping that it ends in the same manner that last year’s did. The race is a ten-furlong stake on the turf, with a generous $750.000 purse up for grabs amongst the top four finishers. That purse level has ranged between $500.000 and $1,000.000 over the history of the race, with the lower amounts being associated with the more recent years. In 2022, there was an increase from $600.000 to the current amount. That race was won by Stellar Agent, for Night Rider Stables, and she will be back at it here to defend her title. It’s time to discuss her chances, as well as the other six in the field, so let’s get started!
#1- Tessas Star (Glorify Stables, ridden by L J Luzzi)- You can pretty much say that this filly has done everything but win in 2023. In six starts, she has been second four times, and third another, and that’s in running races like the Grade 1 Gamely, and the $500.000 Grade 2 Flower Bowl. Only once in her career has she finished outside the top four, as well. Production is nice, but wins are what everyone is after. She deals with a couple of red-hot foes in here, so that might not change in this race.
#2- Tabitha Stephens (Mb Stables, ridden by L Contreras)- Ran last month in the $1,000.000 Ladies Marathon at KD, and tried to go wire to wire before getting passed by two before the race’s end. She’s been very consistent throughout her career and can also boast that she’s only been out of the top four on occasion for her entire career. Has one win in 2023, and that was in July at the Grade 3 Matchmaker, where she beat Tessas Star by two lengths.
#3- Mon Dieu (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by M Murrill)- A veteran of 24 races, and one of them was last year’s running of the Taylor Stakes. In that, she came on to grab the fourth-place check, but never threatened Stellar Agent. Since then, she has two wins and two seconds, with the victories being the Grade 3 Prevoyante Handicap in January and the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes six weeks ago. Unfortunately, she also had a couple of duds recently, including the Matchmaker, where the two to her inside here were significantly better.
#4- Stinky Rene (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by F Pennington)- Formerly a filly that seemed over her head, like I thought she was in the Beverly D, to now maybe becoming one of the favorites for the BC F & M Turf next month? After winning the Beverly D, she made her way to KD, and the $1,000.000 Ladies Marathon, and in case there were still non-believers out there, she went ahead and won that as well. When you’re hot, you’re hot, and right now Stinky Rene is on a roll and absolutely should get a top three finish here, if not the win. Unfortunately, R M Hernandez, who rode her to victory in those races, is at AQU on Sunday.
#5- Untidy (Mb Stables, ridden by J Crawford)- This filly is just about as hot as hot as Stinky Rene right now, but we’ll give that one a nod on that given the stronger races. Still, this race could very well be Stinky and Untidy when all is said and done. After running fourth in the BEL Oaks (which was her turf debut), Untidy made her way to SAR and won the SAR Oaks, and then stayed there to win the Grade 2 Flower Bowl by an impressive four lengths. She also will not have her regular rider here, as J R Velazquez is at KEE on Sunday.
#6- Stellar Agent (Night Rider Stables, ridden by J Stein)- Last year, Stellar Agent won the Taylor Stakes, and returning to the scene of victory in a race can be a very good thing. However, she has not won since that race. She struggled mightily right after it but began to find her way again this April. She hasn’t been raced a lot this year, but has finished second in her last two races, which were the Grade 3 Eatontown at MTH, and the Beverly D at CNL. In the latter, she never really posed a threat to Stinky Rene, however. No horse has ever won this race twice.
#7- Speedy Shark (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by R E Eramia)- Claimed by the trainer for $10.000 in June at FP, and she has made two starts while running for Team 7 Illusions. She’s won one of them, coming just two weeks ago against ON-Breds right here. It might be short rest, but there isn’t much that is the same about the race, as Speedy Shark will be making her turf debut here. It’s also her first ever stake start. The trainer’s obviously confident and there may be good reason, but this quite an ask for a horse on short rest.