Martin Schwartz’s Stacelita, making her second start in America, was named the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $750,000 Grade I Beverly D. Stakes after the mile and three-sixteenths turf race drew a field of 11 fillies and mares.
The Beverly D., which provides the winner an automatic starting position in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf as part of the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, is one of three Grade I stakes races on the card that comprises Arlington’s International Festival of Racing. The others are the $1 million Arlington Million for older turf stars and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-old grass runners of international caliber.
Stacelita, a 5-year-old French-bred mare, was imported to America in late June and ran a close third in the Grade I United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park. Ramon Dominguez will ride Stacelita for her new American trainer, Chad Brown. The Beverly D. will be her third start following a six-month layoff which was preceded by a 2010 campaign that included two wins and two placings from six starts. Her last start of the 2010 came in the prestigious Group I Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin when finishing eighth beaten less than three lengths. She drew post 1 at Tuesday’s post-position draw held at Chicago’s WGN Studios.
Before her American debut, Stacelita finished third against open company in June’s Group III La Coupe at Longchamp, a race she won in 2010. She will attempt to become the third Martin Schwartz-owned entrant to win the Beverly D. following Angara in 2005 and Gorella in 2006. Stacelita last tasted victory in the Group I Prix Jean Romanet last August at Deauville in France.
Set as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line, South African-sensation River Jetez drew post 6 and will make her first start in North America for trainer Mike de Kock. Winless since the Group II Balanchine Stakes at Meydan in February, she was fifth last time out in Newmarket’s Group I Falmouth Stakes. Owned by Barbara and Cedrick Amm and Marsh Shirtliff, the 8-year-old mare by Jet Master was second in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore after running a close sixth in the Group I Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. Before that, the winner of 12 lifetime races was beaten less than a length when second in the $5 million Group I Dubai Duty Free at Meydan. Christophe Soumillon, who partnered River Jetez to her last win, has been engaged for the ride.
The progressive Cheetah, owned by Robert Scarborough, was installed as the 9-2 third choice, drawing post 7. A daughter of Tiger Hill, Cheetah earned her first stakes win in America with a rail-skimming explosion in Delaware Park’s Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial in early July. Trained by Christophe Clement, Cheetah has the services of Garrett Gomez for the third time in her career. Clement is responsible for preparing three previous Beverly D. winners – England’s Legend in 2001, Royal Highness in 2007 and Mauralakana in 2008).
Augustin Stable’s Fantasia, winner of Arlington’s Beverly D. prep, the Grade III Modesty Handicap, will start from post 3 and is 6-1 on the morning line. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Fantasia’s Modesty win was her first graded stakes tally in America, and sixth victory overall. Rajiv Maragh, aboard for the Modesty, has the return call.
Éclair De Lune, the 2010 Beverly D winner, is back to defend her crown and will start from post 9. The daughter of Marchand de Sable is winless in five starts since last year’s emotional Arlington win, but comes into the race with a strong series of long turf works at Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally’s Southern California base. Last time out, Éclair De Lune was sixth beaten six lengths in the Grade I Gamely at Hollywood Park. Junior Alvarado will sport the royal blue and gold silks of Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois for the 12-1 morning-line chance.
Locally-based Never Retreat gives trainer Chris Block his first starter in the Beverly D. In seven starts this year, the Team Block-owned 6-year-old mare by Smart Strike has visited Gulfstream, Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Woodbine, tallying three wins and three placings. In her last start, Never Retreat annexed the Grade II Dance Smartly at Woodbine in a field of 10. This will be her first start on turf over a distance greater than nine furlongs for Block, who leads all trainers in earnings from the current Arlington meet and is ranked fourth in wins. Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount drawn in post 11.
Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, runaway winner of the Grade III Arlington Matron over Polytrack, hopes to transfer her form back to the grass, where she owns three of her five lifetime wins. Part of Newmarket-based trainer Gerard Butler’s string at Arlington, Pachattack missed some training time in June and will run fresh off four works. Florent Geroux, who guided Pachattack to the six-length Matron score, is back aboard the 10-1 morning-line hope who will break from post 8.
Joel Rosario will have his first Beverly D. mount on the streaking Dubawi Heights, owned by Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, Michael Magnier and Annabel Wyatt. After a November maiden tally at Hollywood Park, the 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi has knocked-out three consecutive wins in progressive company. Most recently, she managed to score her first top class win with a victory in the Grade I Gamely at Hollywood Park. After a brief freshening, Dubawi Heights has recorded five solid works in California and represents the first starter in the race for trainer Simon Callaghan. She will leave from post 5 and opens at 10-1 on the morning line.
Also slated to start in Saturday’s Beverly D. (with jockeys, morning line and post listed) are: Lael Stables’ Check The Label (Julien Leparoux, 20-1, post 2), winless since the Grade I Garden City at Belmont in September and making her fourth start of the season for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion; Stone Farm, John Adger, Oak Crest Farm & Michael Stidham’s Upperline (James Graham, 20-1, post 4), trained by the Arlington-based Stidham, was a two-time turf winner at the Fair Grounds early in 2011; and Butterfly Stable’s Romin Robin (Jozbin Santana, 30-1, post 10), second to Fantasia in the Modesty, returns to make her eighth start over the Arlington turf course.