The G2 Jessamine on the lawn at Keeneland on Friday is full of maiden winners stepping up sharply in grade, with all the uncertainty that brings. Wide-margin scorers Time To Dazzle, Buchu and Smooth Waves take on the sole stakes-winner Crown Imperial and promising maiden Appellate in a complicated affair.

Breeders Cup Odds

Jessamine Stakes

G2, $350,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 2yo fillies, 4.44pm ET

At first glance the Jessamine – a win-and-in for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf – is not a strong contest with the first three on the morning-line merely maiden winners moving up, but it certainly makes for an interesting puzzle at Keeneland on Friday.

Take market leader Time To Dazzle (5-2), who lived up to her name when a dominant winner on debut at Woodbine over a mile, beating a field of more experienced runners by an easy three lengths. It was not a fast time, the race was probably no more than an ordinary maiden and Canadian form does not often play well below the border, yet the visual impression was good and this is not a tough spot.

Smooth Waves (7-2) took four tries to break her maiden but did so in romping style over a mile at Kentucky Downs, hosing the field by nine and a quarter lengths. She has a very similar profile to Buchu (4-1), who also took four goes to get it right and looked good when she did, coming clear by four and three-quarter lengths at Churchill Downs over a mile-sixteenth.

This is an obvious next step for both fillies, and given that they are taking on horses without much stakes experience, the normal rule can be bent a little. This is essentially a ‘winners-of-one’ and both Smooth Waves and Buchu could easily step up. Pharoah’s Wine (12-1) also broke her maiden at Kentucky Downs over a mile, seeing off Moonlight Gambler (30-1) by three and a quarter lengths in a faster time than Smooth Waves managed, so their wide disparity in odds is not easy to understand.

The only stakes winner at the party is Crown Imperial (6-1), who got her black-type at Kentucky Downs over six and a half furlongs, finishing her race off strongly to win by a length and a quarter. The extra yardage here is obviously the big question.

More stakes form comes from Bella Haze (10-1), runner-up over a mile at Kentucky Downs when trying to take them gate-to-wire, fading in the final furlong to be beaten three lengths. She broke her maiden over six and may not want to stretch out even further.

Fellow stakes runner-up Toupie (20-1) was emphatically second-best at Colonial Downs over five and a half furlongs, and it is hard to guess what difference – positive or negative – the extra three furlongs here will make.

The big-league combo of Pletcher-Ortiz makes the two-race maiden Appellate (10-1) interesting, as does her record – beaten both times by a head at Saratoga over a mile-sixteenth. Spa form is good form and she could be at home at this level.

Jessamine Stakes Fixed Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds by Jazzsports
Smooth WavesTyler Gaffalione+350
Time to DazzleLuis Saez+250
Moonlight GamblerLuan Machado+3000
Crown ImperialRicardo Santana, Jr.+600
ToupieFlavien Prat+2000
AbeyanceJames Graham+1500
Bella HazeJoel Rosario+1000
Pharoah’s WineMartin Chuan+1200
AppellateIrad Ortiz, Jr.+1000
BuchuMartin Garcia+400
AsterniaJulien R. Leparoux+3000

There is no stand-out here, so perhaps APPELLATE, with her stamina proven, can parlay those two Saratoga near-misses into a breakthrough success.

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