Though the three-year-old trails visit Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Santa Anita on Saturday, make sure to save some energy for Sunday's action, as well. The Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes is the second of two Oaks preps to be run opening weekend at Keeneland. Unlike Saturday's Ashland, and other recent preps, it does not offer enough points to get its winner into the big race -- but for horses on the bubble, the 10-4-2-1 points allocated to the top four finishers would theoretically be enough to get a horse on the bubble into the gate. "Theoretically" is the key word, however, as this year's field of nine in the Beaumont lacks Oaks prospects, but features a mix of sprinters and horses who took a long winter layoff and make their seasonal bow here.
The Beaumont, which has been a stakes race at Keeneland since 1986, takes its name from Beaumont Farm, owned by Keeneland's co-founder Hal Price Headley. Part of the land that was Beaumont Farm is now Mill Ridge Farm, an Thoroughbred operation begun by his daughter Alice Chandler, which continues to live on today.
Throughout its history, the Beaumont has been run at seven furlongs and 184 feet over the Keeneland main track. It first gained a grade in 1990, was elevated to a Grade 2 in 1993, but was downgraded to a Grade 3 in 2016. Two Hall of Fame inductees have won this race. Go For Wand (1990), a seven-time Grade I winner, was the Champion two-year-old filly of 1989, and the Champion three-year-old filly of her year. Xtra Heat (2001) was Champion three-year-old filly the year she won the Beaumont, winning nine stakes against her own gender and being twice Grade I placed against males that year. At four, she finally got the best of the boys, winning the Phoenix Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
Though no Illinois-bred horses have won the Beaumont Stakes before, a few of the race's winners have made their marks on the local circuit. Exquisite Mistress (1989) broke her maiden at first asking at Hawthorne, during August of her juvenile year. She never won a stakes race on the Chicago circuit, but was second in the National Jockey Club Oaks at Sportsman's. Dixieland Gold (1996) won the Safely Kept Stakes at Arlington the next year.
Sunday, April 8 - Keeneland Racecourse
Race 7: Beaumont Stakes (G3), three-year-old fillies, seven furlongs and 184 feet on the dirt, post time 4:24pm EDT
DREAM IT IS was one of the most impressive sophomore fillies last year. After two solid victories over the Tapeta at Woodbine, she looked even better on dirt when she went to Saratoga and romped in the Schuylerville (G3). Though that six-furlong race was her longest to date, the daughter of Shackleford should find seven furlongs well within her abilities. DREAM IT IS also has a proven stalking gear, a positive since so many of the runners in this field have shown early speed. The biggest question is the layoff, as DREAM IT IS has not raced since that July romp. Still, she has been working since February, including a sharp drill over the Keeneland course, suggesting she should be fit.
There are a couple of California shippers for the Beaumont. GAS STATION SUSHI impressed on debut, going six and a half furlongs last year, but hasn't run since last August. Between the California runners, this space prefers UPPERCUT. Though she also only has one start, that maiden win came more recently, in February. It was an impressive effort, and she doesn't need much second-start progression to be well set here. Though UPPERCUT graduated on the front end, which may be contentious here, she wasn't uncontested in her maiden win though she led at every call. Finally, the connections appeal strongly. Trainer Peter Eurton excels with shippers, and though rider Mike Smith doesn't often ride for the barn, he has done well when he does. Smith rode UPPERCUT to her maiden score, and it's a positive that he hops the plane to Kentucky to ride her again here.
HAPPY LIKE A FOOL didn't draw the greatest -- she is mired on the rail -- but she rated from a relatively inside draw when she won the Matron (G3) last year, with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons, so that suggests she could handle it here. Though HAPPY LIKE A FOOL hasn't raced since that victory in October, she should be able to fire off the lay: trainer Wesley Ward excels with layoff horses, and historically comes ready to fire at Keeneland. HAPPY LIKE A FOOL, herself, has been posting regular works since February, and boasts a win over the Keeneland course last year. Finally, though HAPPY LIKE A FOOL has not tried anything longer than six furlongs yet, she should handle it. By Distorted Humor, she is a out of a mare who has produced quality extended-sprint runners, including Conquest Panthera (a G2 winner at seven furlongs) and Maniacal (G2 placed at six and a half furlongs).
#3 DREAM IT IS (3/1)
#4 UPPERCUT (4/1)
#1 HAPPY LIKE A FOOL (7/2)
Longshot: #6 UPSET BREWING (15/1) needs a huge step forward to win this. But, she has a fitness edge over most of the classier foes she faces here, as many come in from winter lays and she has been running through the winter in Louisiana and Arkansas. Her last-out form line was solid; UPSET BREWING was only beaten by Haynesfest, who in turn had been beaten a neck by Oaks contender Chocolate Martini in her previous start. That was a route, a testament to her fitness and form -- but UPSET BREWING has done her better work at one turn. She has solid seven-furlong form, with exacta finishes in all three starts at the distance, and had done her best with Corey Lanerie in the irons. Finally, UPSET BREWING has some pace versatility. That should allow Lanerie to place her off the likely hot pace in front of her, and make a well-timed run.
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