Woodbine will host its first graded stakes of the 2018 Thoroughbred meet this weekend with the $125,000 Whimsical Stakes (Grade 3) headlining the Saturday (April 28) afternoon program.
After wintering at Gulfstream Park, the Josie Carroll-trained Moonlit Promise returns to the scene of her perfect 2017 campaign for the six-furlong sprint featuring fillies and mares four years old and up.
Moonlit Promise was a runner-up to stablemate Ami’s Mesa in Sovereign Award voting for Champion Older Female and Champion Female Sprinter with her three-for-three stakes record last year at Woodbine for owners Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc. and Windsor Boys Racing.
A big, strong mare with a finishing kick, Moonlit Promise was victorious in the Sweet Briar Too, Ontario Fashion (Grade 3) and Bessarabian (Grade 2) at Woodbine last fall. Facing graded stakes competition down south, she raced four-wide to reach the lead in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes before finishing fourth and battled for the lead in the Inside Information Stakes before fading out of the money.
“I think with the change of surface down there, she got a little tired but still ran well enough,” said Carroll, noting the homebred Malibu Moon-Smart Surprise mare returned to Woodbine a couple of weeks ago and has been training well. “We’re just happy to have her back on the racetrack where she seems to really thrive.”
The Whimsical field also includes Scotty’s Model, who came within a head of Moonlit Promise the last time they faced off in the Bessarabian on November 26 and competed at Oaklawn Park over the winter with trainer Norm McKnight.
Among the contenders are last year's La Lorgnette Stakes winner Let It Ride Mom from the Mark Casse stable and the Nick Gonzalez-trained La Prevoyante turf champion Silent Sonet, who will both be making their season’s debuts on Saturday.
A runner-up in the Duchess and Ruling Angel Stakes last year, Reade Baker’s Just Be Kind will start in the Whimsical after picking up a stakes win in the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs during Woodbine’s off-season.
Fresh off a victory in the Latonia Stakes at Turfway Park, supplemental entry Sky Flower joins the line up along with Sugar Jones and Woodbine newcomer Jessica Krupnick, who is riding a two-race win streak into the Whimsical.
First race post time on Saturday is 1 p.m., with the $125,000 Whimsical Stakes (Grade 3) scheduled for race eight.
$125,000 Whimsical Stakes (Grade 3)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Jessica Krupnick – Forest Boyce – Francis Abbott III
2. Sky Flower (S) – Eddie Dominguez – Gerald Brooks
3. Just Be Kind – Alan Garcia – Reade Baker
4. Sugar Jones – David Moran – Michael Mattine
5. Let It Ride Mom – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
6. Scotty's Model – Rafael Hernandez – Norm McKnight
7. Silent Sonet – Luis Contreras – Nicholas Gonzalez
8. Moonlit Promise – Gary Boulanger – Josie Carroll