Seconds out, round four. Shedaresthedevil, Ava’s Grace, Pauline’s Pearl and She’s All Wolfe have been running against each other all year, and the G2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on Saturday is just another instalment in the ongoing battle for supremacy. Wide-margin Pimlico G3 winner Super Quick joins the gang for what will be a fascinating contest.
Fleur de Lis Stakes
Grade 2, $350,000, 1m 1f, 4yo+ fillies/mares
It isn’t the Triple Crown, nor yet the Turf Triple, or even the Triple Tiara, but something similar is happening that makes the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on Saturday part of something even bigger, the fourth leg of an unofficial series that brings out the usual suspects for another encounter.
The first leg was the G2 Azeri over a mile-sixteenth at Oaklawn Park in March, which was expected to be a vehicle for the super-consistent Shedaresthedevil, only for the front-running favorite to be caught in mid-stretch and relegated to third behind Ce Ce, with the rallying Pauline’s Pearl a length ahead of her in the runner-up spot. The longshots She’s All Wolfe and Ava’s Grace were fourth and fifth, comfortably beaten.
Round Two was the G1 La Troienne here over a mile-sixteenth in May, which was a dose of deja vu. Pauline’s Pearl ran down the front-running favourite Shedaresthedevil in the closing stages to win by a half-length, with the fading pace-presser Ava’s Grace two and three-quarter lengths back in third and longshot She’s All Wolfe fifth, another seven and a half lengths away.
Shedaresthedevil sat out the third bout, a stakes over the same La Troienne course and distance last month, in which She’s All Wolfe turned the tables on her old rivals, doing all her best work late to beat the front-running Ava’s Grace by a length and a quarter, with odds-on shot Pauline’s Pearl off her game in fourth, beaten a total of two and a half lengths.
What we’ve learned from the series so far, apart from the notion that there is no standout among these hardy distaffers, is that Shedaresthedevil may be losing a little of her mojo, having been beaten three times straight for the first time since early 2020. Also that Ava’s Grace – two-for-ten lifetime – finds it hard to get her head in front when the camera clicks.
And should we trust the form of that last-time-out stakes contest, when She’s All Wolfe showed ability never previously in evidence, and Pauline’s Pearl ran one of the worst races of her life? On balance, it may be better to draw a line through it.
The key will be the pace. Both Ava’s Grace and Shedaresthedevil like to be out there running, which also applies to Super Quick, a newcomer to the series who absolutely demolished the G3 Allaire DuPont Distaff over a mile-eighth at Pimlico when scorching home by 14 and a quarter lengths. Super Quick is entitled to move up again, but the guarantee of hasty fractions should suit Pauline’s Pearl, who habitually finishes off her races strongly and will relish all that pace to run at.
|HORSE||JOCKEY||HORSE RACING ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Super Quick||Joseph Talamo||+200|
|She’s All Wolfe||Francisco Arrieta||+500|
|Ava’s Grace||David Cohen||+600|
|Pauline’s Pearl||Joel Rosario||+250|
Fleur de Lis Betting Prediction
It may well be worth forgiving PAULINE’S PEARL her recent below-par showing, as the pace set-up will suit and she has a recent G1 win here on her record.
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