Speech and Bonny South, both of whom made a brief splash last season in a deep division of three-year-old fillies, are the headliners in Friday’s $100,000 Doubledogdare S. (G3) at Keeneland.
A three-length winner of the Ashland (G1) in track-record time over the Doubledogdare distance of 1 1/16 miles in July, Speech didn’t show the same fire in her final two starts of the season. Elevated from fourth to third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) following Gamine’s belated disqualification, she was most recently a distant sixth behind that champion in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in November.
Bonny South, who accounted for the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) early last season, finished fourth in the Ashland and second to Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama (G1). Kept out of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in favor of stablemate Shedaresthedevil, Bonny South was beaten into second as the odds-on favorite in her final two starts of the year, the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Falls City (G2).
Royal Flag, who captured the Turnback the Alarm H. (G3) in November after placing in two other graded stakes is another major player in the Doubledogdare. Also lining up is Eres Tu, who had a productive winter capturing the Allaire du Pont (G3) at Laurel and finishing second in the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream.
Providing the pace in the Doubledogdare might be Bajan Girl, who weakened to third in the Royal Delta and Rampart (G3) in her last two starts.