Barbara Hunter’s Keertana, unbeaten in both starts this season, will be among the favorites in a competitive field of nine drawn for the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs March 12.
The nine-furlong turf race for fillies and mares also includes two-time graded stakes winner Askbut I Won'ttell, Suwannee River (gr. IIIT) victor Cherokee Queen, and French filly Zagora, who was installed, somewhat surprisingly, as the 5-2 morning-line choice despite being off since October.
The Hillsborough is the first of two graded stakes on a Tampa Bay card that features the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
Keertana comes off of a half-length win in the Feb. 20 The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, which came a month after she won an allowance event at Tampa Bay in her 5-year-old debut when dead heating with stablemate You Go West Girl. Keertana finished third by only a half-length in November’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT). In her 25-race career, the Johar mare has finished in the money 19 times and has earned $809,371.