Charles Fipke’s 5-year-old Kentucky homebred mare Perfect Shirl stormed
from off the pace to post a 28-to-1 upset in the Breeders’ Cup Filly
& Mare Turf (G1) last out on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs for trainer
Roger Attfield, and was prepared to make her next start in an
invitational race at San Isidro in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December,
but air transportation problems precluded the trip.
Attfield gave her a little break at his Payson Park winter quarters and
she is set make her season debut in a full field of 12 set for Sunday’s
The Very One Stakes (G3) at 1 3/8 miles on turf with her Breeders’ Cup
jockey John Velazquez in the saddle. The daughter of Perfect Soul had
run well in major stakes last season, but failed to win six starts
before her three-quarters of a length score at Churchill.
Perfect Shirl faces a formidable rival in Green Hills Farm’s 6-year-old
Chilean-bred mare Casablanca Smile with jockey Kent Desormeaux in the
saddle for trainer Shug McGaughey. The daughter of Ocean Terrace has
been very consistent at the top level since coming to McGaughey early in
2010 with two wins, three second and a third in as many starts since
then, all in stakes races.
Casablanca Smile drew off to a seven-length romp in the 12-furlong
Dowager Stakes in October of 2010 after a good runner-up effort in the
Glens Falls Handicap (G3) at Saratoga. In her only two starts in 2011,
she began the year finishing second in the 12-furlong La Prevoyante
Stakes (G3) at Calder on Jan. 2 and didn’t run again until winning the
Dec. 2 renewal of the same race after an 11-month layoff,
“She had some little hind-end issues after she ran in the La Prevoyante
early last year and we backed off of her,” said McGaughey. “We had her
ready to come back in a race a Belmont in October, but she came up with
an abscess in a foot and we had to scratch. We got that cleaned up and
she ran big to win the La Prevoyante without a prep, and I’m looking
forward to a big season with her.”
Another highly-accomplished long-distance stakes performer in the field
will be Barbara Hunter’s 6-year-old Keertana, winner for the race last
year for trainer Tom Proctor. Regular jockey Jose Lezcano retains the
mount on the roan/gray homebred daughter of Johar after a good
third-place finish last out behind Zagora in the Endeavor Stakes (G3) at
Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 4, her first start since late May.
Completing the field for Saturday’s race are Trick or Treat
International’s Here to Win, Team Valor International’s Hasay, Catesby
Clay’s Woodford Belle, Earle Mack’s Clarinet, Arnold Zetcher’s Good
Karma, Mark Gittins’ Shimmering Moment, Theiline Scheumann’s Middle
Club, Lael Stable’s Font, Ramona Bass’ Aquitaine and Columbus Circle
partners’ Full Moon Party.
Farnsworth Stable’s Dash Dot Dash was entered for ‘main track only’ by trainer Marty Wolfson.