G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Centre Court overhauled defending champion Daisy Devine at the sixteenth pole and drew off to win the 25th running of the $300,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares by two lengths on Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
Trained by Rusty Arnold and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Centre Court is a four-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Smart Strike out of the A.P. Indy mare Let who covered the 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:41.73.
Daisy Devine, seeking to become only the second horse to win consecutive runnings of the Jenny Wiley, led the field past the finish line the first time and opened a daylight lead under James Graham with fractions of :23.99, :48.08 and 1:12.18. Leparoux had Centre Court in third place until moving past Quiet Oasis (IRE) turning for home.
It was Leparoux's second Jenny Wiley victory to go with Forever Together in 2009.
Centre Court, winner of the Honey Fox (G2) and Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) in her past two starts, gradually cut into Daisy Devine's lead and rushed past at the sixteenth pole for her first victory at Keeneland.
The victory was worth $180,000 and increased Centre Court's earnings to $746,012 with a record of 11-6-4-0 that includes five graded stakes victories and first Grade 1. Centre Court never has been worse than second in 10 starts on grass.
Favored in the stellar field of nine, Centre Court returned $5.40, $3 and $2.40. Daisy Devine paid $4.20 and $3.20 with Samitar (GB) finishing 1¾ lengths back in third under Javier Castellano and paying $3.20 to show.
Better Lucky was 2½ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Ausus, Abaco, Old Tune (BRZ), Quiet Oasis and Hard Not to Like.
See the full chart here.
Jenny Wiley Quotes
Rusty Arnold (winning trainer of Centre Court): On how he prepared her for the winning performance after she won her first start of the year in the Honey Fox Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 16: “This one was easier than the last one (Honey Fox). She'd come off a long layoff. She's improved as Julien (Leparoux) said. She's a better horse this year than last year. She's easier to deal with. She got here easy. She got it on her own.”
On her future races: “There's a race in June that we're going to point to, would be my guess. The main goal through the summer is either the Beverly D. ([G1] on August 17 at Arlington Park) or the Diana ([G1] on July 27 at Saratoga).”
Julien Leparoux (winning rider): On whether he thought Centre Court would catch front-running Daisy Devine: “I got a little worried around the three-eighths pole. But coming to the quarter pole, I knew I was running faster and I knew I was going to catch her. She's a good filly. She's gotten a lot better from last year. She was already good, but she got a lot better this year. We're looking forward to a great year from her.”
Andrew McKeever (trainer of second-place finisher Daisy Devine): “She ran huge. She just got outrun by a better horse.”
James Graham (rider of Daisy Devine): “I would have liked to slow it down a little more. I didn't have to use her but she broke so sharp and so quick, and everybody was scrambling to get their positions but not going anywhere, so I ended up being on the lead, in hand, comfortable, relaxed–she ran her race but the filly (Centre Court) ran by her.”
Chad Brown (trainer of third-place finisher Samitar [GB]): “We had a good trip. We were following Centre Court the whole way. But when the other filly (Centre Court) went, I couldn't go with her. Clearly the best horse today was Centre Court. I have no excuse for mine.”
Eddie Castro (rider of fourth-place finisher Better Lucky): “I had a good trip. She came back good for her first start back and she had a nice punch at the end.”
Tom Albertrani (trainer of Better Lucky): “She ran well and tried all the way around. She might be a little sharper for the next one. We may take a look at the Just a Game (G1) at Belmont in June at a mile (on the turf). I am pleased with her because she tried the entire way.”
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