Unbeaten Amy’s Challenge is the 3-2 program favorite for the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 6-furlong Dixie Belle, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Gates open Saturday at 11 a.m., with first post 1:05 p.m.
Amy’s Challenge, who races for Novogratz Racing Stables Inc. (Joseph Novogratz) and trainer Mac Robertson, beat males in both career starts last year at Canterbury Park, including the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes Sept. 16. She was a 16 ½-length winner of her Aug. 6 career debut. Those efforts earned her Horse of the Meet honors at the Minnesota track.
“The only reason I ran her against males at Canterbury was I had some decent fillies, not like her, but that I thought could win,” Robertson said, specifically mentioning another debut winner, Glamorized. “They got ready at the same time, so it made sense to run Glamorized against fillies and Amy’s Challenge against boys. I thought she could win wherever I ran her.”
Amy’s Challenge earned eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures of 91 for her maiden victory and 92 for her stakes score, both ratings among the highest in the country for a 2-year-old last year.
“There wasn’t a filly stake, there was only a boy’s stake,” Robertson said, referring to Canterbury. “Obviously, everybody wants to stay home. It made sense. With 2-year-olds, I think, maybe in the summer they’re some fillies just as fast as boys, anyway.”
Amy’s Challenge, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Artie Schiller, is scheduled to break from post 6 under regular rider Jareth Loveberry and carry equal top weight of 119 pounds.
The remainder of the projected seven-horse Dixie Belle field from the rail out:
Getupbabygetup, Channing Hill to ride, 114 pounds, 15-1 on the morning line; Secret Passion, Edwin Maldonado, 119, 12-1; Vision of Justice, Mike Luzzi, 119, 5-1; Thoughtless Doll, C.J. McMahon, 114, 15-1; Mia Mischief, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 9-5; and Minit to Stardom, Gary Stevens, 119, 6-1.
Mia Mischief will be making her 3-year-old debut for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has topped the Oaklawn standings eight times since 2007.
Owned by the trainer’s longtime clients, Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, the speedy Mia Mischief was a 16 1/4-length maiden winner last October at Keeneland and a 3 ¾-length entry-level allowance winner of her last start, Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs.
Both Amy’s Challenge and Mia Mischief have led virtually every step in their victories.
“I’m glad I’m outside Asmussen,” Robertson said.
Asmussen is seeking his fourth Dixie Belle victory and 73rd career Oaklawn stakes triumph.
(from Oaklawn news release)