2018 Pretty Jenny Stakes Preview

The stakes portion of the Hawthorne meet begins this weekend -- and, for the first time since 2015, Hawthorne has scheduled three-year-old stakes races for Illinois-breds.  Though the Land of Lincoln was not carded for lack of nominations, the Pretty Jenny Stakes did draw enough runners and will be contested on Saturday.

Previously known as the Lady Hallie Stakes, the race has been restricted to Illinois-bred sophomore fillies since its 2004 running, and has taken Pretty Jenny's name since its 2009 running.  Pretty Jenny, herself the Lady Hallie winner in 2005, was a 12-time winner in 32 starts between ages three and six.  She dominated the local filly and mare sprint circuit and also won stakes races at Churchill Downs and Prairie Meadows as an older horse.

Its most accomplished winner to date is My Option (2013), a Chris Block trainee who was stakes quality on all three surfaces.  Polytrack was likely her best footing, as she went on to win both the 2013 Arlington Oaks (G3) and 2014 Chicago Handicap (G3) on the Arlington main.  She also proved her class on turf, finishing third behind I'm Already Sexy in the 2013 Pucker Up Stakes (G3).

Updated Saturday, April 21 to account for the scratch of RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT.

Race 3: Pretty Jenny Stakes, three-year-old fillies, Illinois-registered, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:06pm CDT

The Pretty Jenny drew a field of just six this year -- two of whom hail from the barn of Larry Rivelli (RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT and JEAN ELIZABETH), and two more from trainer Scott Becker (ROYAL'S POSITION and SUZ).  As expected, Rivelli scratched one of his horses, who were both front-end speedesters.  RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT will wait for another day -- and, perhaps, a shorter race, as her form last year suggests she wants little to do with races longer than about five and a half furlongs.

JEAN ELIZABETH stays in, and she looks to be tough to run down here on an uncontested lead.  She looks to actually want six furlongs, unlike her stablemate, as she scored an impressive victory going six furlongs at Hawthorne in an open N1X last year.  Though the daughter of Adios Charlie is untested in a contested pace scenario, she stands to get everything her own way out front if RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT defects, leaving that question for another day.  With no horse likely fast enough to go with her early, JEAN ELIZABETH will be the one to beat at a short price.

Like Rivelli, Scott Becker also sends a pair in here.   However, given their varying running styles, it was no surprise to see Becker keep them both in -- they don't stand to get in each other's way.  SUZ has already had a tune-up this meet, and all things considered, SUZ's three-year-old bow was a good one.  She was a well-beaten second -- but the horse who beat her was a talented four-year-old filly who came from well off the pace, whereas SUZ was forward throughout and still held second over another older mare.  Though SUZ is not fast enough to go with either Rivelli horse early, she proved that she can stay interested even if she doesn't get the lead.  Furthermore, the stretch from five and a half panels last out to six here should suit her fine, as she had good six-furlong form last year.

ROYAL'S POSITION would be a surprise to see win this, but she has a claim for a share underneath.  Unlike her stablemate, she hasn't had a race yet this year -- she was last seen finishing second in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante last year.  Still, Becker excels with layoff runners, and the string of workouts suggests she should be rounding into fitness.  On class, too, she fits perfectly.  The pace is the big question for ROYAL'S POSITION, though -- she looks best suited with some pace in front of her, something that was only likely to happen if Rivelli kept both JEAN ELIZABETH and RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT in.  With the scratch of RICHIE'SLILWILDCAT, ROYAL'S POSITION won't get a setup, but she's faster than the likes of TUMULTUOUS GAL or ENSIGN.  This makes her logical to clunk up for third here before tackling longer races at Arlington or Fairmount.

Selections:

#4 JEAN ELIZABETH (2/1)

#3 SUZ (8/1)

#1 ROYAL'S POSITION (3/1)

Longshot:  The field size over/under for the longshot writer to show up here is 6.5, and those who bet the under can now collect their ten cents on the dollar.

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