May 25, 2024

Althiqa tops First Lady; Golden Pal faces six in Woodford

Althiqa wins the Diana Stakes (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Saturday’s stakes-packed program at Keeneland includes the $400,000 First Lady S. (G1), a “Win & You’re In” for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar, and the $200,000 Woodford S. (G2) for turf sprinters.

First Lady (G1) – Race 8 (4:44 p.m. ET)

After recording wins in the Just a Game (G1) and Diana (G1), Althiqa will return stateside for a dynamite edition of the First Lady. The mile turf test has attracted 13 fillies and mares.

A Grade 2 winner in Dubai this winter, and a French stakes queen as a sophomore last year, Athiqa is based in England with Charlie Appleby. The Godolphin homebred daughter of Dark Angel rallied to win the Diana going away at Belmont Park in early June, and Althiqa captured the July 17 Diana at Saratoga by nearly a length in her last outing. Jamie Spencer will be in to ride.

Winner of last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland last fall, Harvey’s Lil Goil will switch back to turf after an unplaced finish in the Personal Ensign (G1). The four-year-old American Pharoah filly captured the grassy Beaugay (G3) earlier this season, and Junior Alvarado will be up for Bill Mott.

Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1) winner Empress Josephine will invade for Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien. Last seen finishing fourth in the Sept. 11 Matron (G1) at Leopardstown, the three-year-old daughter of Galileo will add the services of John Velazquez.

Princess Grace enters on the upswing Michael Stidham, capturing the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3), Yellow Ribbon (G2), and Ladies Turf (G3) in her last three outings, and Kent Desormeaux has the call. Chad Brown will send out Grade 1 scorer Viadera, winner of the Ballston Spa (G2) most recently; Distaff Turf Mile (G2) heroine Blowout; and multiple graded winner Regal Glory.

Other runners include Abscond, Dalika, Hendy Woods, and La Signare.

Woodford (G2) – Race 6 (3:40 p.m. ET)

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner Golden Pal opened his three-year-old season with a brilliant win in the July 15 Quick Call S. (G3) at Saratoga, and the speedy colt is a candidate to rebound in the Woodford after an unplaced finish in the Aug. 20 Nunthorpe S. (G1) in England.

Golden Pal heads a field of seven in the 5 1/2-furlong turf affair. Winner of the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland, the Uncle Mo colt will take some beating Saturday. Velazquez picks up the mount for Wesley Ward.

A close in last year’s Woodford, Extravagant Kid merits respect for Brendan Walsh. Country Final and Firecrow are also entered.