February 2, 2023

Smash Ticket, Wicked Halo highlight nine sophomore fillies in Raven Run

Wicked Halo wins the Prioress Stakes (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Stakes winners Smash Ticket and Wicked Halo are top contenders in Saturday’s seven-furlong $350,000 Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland, which has drawn nine three-year-old fillies.

It’s a quick two-week turnaround to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), which also will be contested at Keeneland on Nov. 5, but Shamrock Rose won both events before being named champion female sprinter in 2018.

Winner of the Sept. 2 Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, Wicked Halo will bring a three-race stakes-winning streak to the Raven Run. The gray daughter of Gun Runner earned a career-best 102 Brisnet Speed rating last time, and Tyler Gaffalione rides for Steve Asmussen.

Smash Ticket also owns a three-race win skein, recording back-to-back allowance tallies before earning her first stakes triumph in convincing fashion, rolling to a 6 1/4-length decision in the Sept. 24 Weather Vane at Pimlico. The Midnight Lute filly has registered consecutive triple-digit Speed figures, and Kendrick Carmouche retains the assignment aboard the frontrunner.

Unbeaten New York-bred stakes winner Finegal’s Cave, a convincing winner over open allowance rivals at Saratoga two back, will try graded stakes competition for David Donk. Joel Rosario takes over the reins. Freedom Speaks, winner of the Sept. 13 Music City S. at Kentucky Downs, will move turf-to-dirt for Jeremiah Englehart. Runner-up in the Game Face S. in her lone dirt outing, the gray will look to challenge from just off the pace with Florent Geroux.

Delaware Oaks (G3) winner Midnight Stroll, third to Society in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) last out, merits respect for John Terranova. Other contestants include Dogwood (G3) third Colorful Mischief, Prioress third Union Lake, and last-out allowance romper Republique.