Gold Mark Farm LLC’s Culotte and Stoneway Farm’s Queen Teuta, who finished 1-2 when they faced each other in the first race of their respective careers, loom as likely favorites when eight lightly-raced 2-year-old fillies meet in Saturday’s 111th running of the $100,000-added Debutante Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
The six-furlong race is the nation’s first graded stakes event for 2-year-old fillies and the featured 10th race on the next-to-last Saturday program of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet. Post time for the first of 11 races on Saturday is 12:45 p.m. (Eastern).
The connections of the eight fillies set to compete in Saturday’s Debutante hope their fillies can live up to the standards of excellence established by a roster past Debutante winners that include Bewitch and Alcibiades, two outstanding champions of the first half of the 20th century. Recent winners include two-time champion Silverbulletday, a Hall of Fame filly who won the 1998 Debutante and the 1999 Kentucky Oaks (GI), and multiple stakes winners Chilukki and Cashier’s Dream. Fillies that competed in recent Debutante runnings but failed to win include 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, third in the ’08 Debutante; Countess Diana, the 1997 2-year-old filly champion who suffered the only loss of her championship season in a runner-up run the Debutante; and Serena’s Song, who finished fourth in 1994 but retired as racing’s all-time female earnings leader.
Culotte, a daughter of Sky Mesa trained by Tom Amoss, could end up as the favorite in the 2010 renewal of the Debutante because of her dazzling racing debut in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Churchill Downs on May 13. She started quickly and led throughout as the 2-1 favorite to score an emphatic 5 ½-length win over Debutante rival Queen Teuta. The latter, a daughter of Theatrical trained by veteran Bernie Flint, rebounded to win her next start at 4 ½ furlongs on June 3.
Culotte will break from post seven under jockey Leandro Goncalves, while Queen Teuta and jockey Calvin Borel will start from post two. Both fillies are set to carry 118 pounds.
There are no fillies in the Debutante’s field of future stars with more than two career starts, and only one member of the field is a veteran of stakes competition. That filly is Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Shocktime, a Texas-bred daughter of Langfuhr who invades from the Lone Star State off a pair of lopsided victories for trainer Bret Calhoun.
Shocktime won her two previous races at Lone Star Park by a combined margin of 21 ¾ lengths. In her most recent start the homebred filly cruised to a 12 ¾-length win in the filly division of the $93,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity on June 11. She covered five furlongs that day in :58.61, a clocking that was faster than the winning time turned in by stablemate Lil Cherokee one race earlier in the Futurity’s division for colts and geldings.
Miguel Mena, who won last week’s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) aboard William Farish Jr.’s Pool Play, will ride Shocktime, who will carry high weight of 120 pounds.
Another out-of-state threat is posed by R N R Stable’s Defy Gravity, a Maryland-based daughter of Bandini who comes in to the Debutante off an easy victory in a 4 ½-furlong maiden race at Pimlico on May 8. Trainer Valerie Testerman’s filly finished third in her career debut on April 15, but rolled by six lengths in her second and most recent outing.
Wesley Ho has been in the saddle for both of Defy Gravity’s starts and will travel to Churchill Downs to ride in her stakes debut. Defy Gravity breaks for post eight and carries 118 pounds.
Other Debutante contenders include Terry Allen’s Five Star Momma, an impressive winner of her June 10 debut at Churchill Downs for trainer Scooter Dickey, and Barry King’s Flashy Lassie, a Garry Simms-trained filly from the first crop of Flashy Bull who won her May 13 debut beneath the historic Twin Spires by nine lengths. Corey Lanerie will ride Five Star Momma from the rail post, while Kent Desormeaux and Flashy Lassie will start from post five.
The field for the 111th Debutante (from the rail out with jockey, weight) includes: Five Star Momma (Lanerie, 118), Queen Tueta (Borel, 118), Tippy Toes (Julien Leparoux, 116), My Due Process (Robby Albarado, 116), Flashy Lassie (Desormeaux, 116), Shocktime (Mena, 120), Culotte (Goncalves, 118) and Defy Gravity (Ho, 118).