$1.15-Million Into Mischief Filly Leslie's Rose Blooms in Ashland for Whisper Hill

Leslie's Rose Coady/Renee Torbit

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Billed as a showdown between the top three finishers of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Keeneland's opening day GI Central Bank Ashland S.–worth not just $600,000 in purse money but also GI Kentucky Oaks points on a 100-50-25-15-10 scale–instead featured the blossoming of Whisper Hill Farm's 'TDN Rising Star' Leslie's Rose (f, 3, Into Mischief–Wildwood Rose {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}), who left no doubt about the top filly on the day with a three-length tour de force. George Krikorian's Breeders' Cup winner and Eclipse champion Just F Y I (Justify) was second, while Juddmonte homebred Impel (Quality Road), a 'TDN Rising Star' trying stakes company for the first time, finished third. The Breeders' Cup's second- and third-place finishers, Jody's Pride (American Pharoah) and Candied (Candy Ride {Arg}), were seventh and fourth, respectively.

The first Grade I race of the year for 3-year-old fillies, the Ashland is contested at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but it marked the first time Leslie's Rose has been asked to go that distance. She will aim to join Monomoy Girl (Tapizar, 2018) and Malathaat (Curlin, 2021) as the third Ashland winner in seven years to also take the Kentucky Oaks. Like Malathaat, Leslie's Rose is trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

When the gates flew in the Ashland, last-out Ruthless S. winner Halina's Forte (Mitole) emerged from the early fray with the first calls, stopping the clock in :24.35 for the first quarter and :48.27 for the first half. Impel kept her company while parked just off her flank as Leslie's Rose tracked from a joint third. As the tempo quickened on the final turn, Impel dispensed with Halina's Forte to take command as five of the eight fanned out entering the lane. It briefly appeared to be anyone's race until Leslie's Rose tipped out to go around Impel and, despite drifting slightly, powered down the stretch a much-the-best, three-length winner. Just F Y I overhauled Impel late in her first start since the Breeders' Cup after scratching with a fever from the Mar. 2 GII Davona Dale S., the same race where Leslie's Rose suffered her first career loss with a third-place finish as the favorite in her first stakes try.

“We didn't lose any confidence in her. She didn't have a great trip that day,” said Pletcher about the lead up to the Ashland in the Davona Dale for Leslie's Rose. “I think she got a good education. It was the first time she'd been in that scenario. You could see turning for home [jockey] Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] had an opportunity to go into a tight spot, and she just wasn't experienced enough to do that at that time. But we weren't down on her, she came back, she breezed beautifully, so we said, 'Let's just stick to the game plan' and I'm glad we did.”

Pletcher had given Leslie's Rose, a $1.15-million Keeneland September purchase by Mandy Pope, her early education in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct last November, a good two weeks after Just F Y I had already sewn up the divisional championship. The bay led every step of the way for a 9 1/4-length victory that netted the 'Rising Star' tag and an 87 Beyer Speed Figure. She reappeared at Gulfstream in January with another easy win and an 88 Beyer before evening out in the Davona Dale.

After the Ashland, Pletcher added: “She's always been a high-quality filly. She's always trained like she wants to run longer and I think she proved that today, getting the opportunity to go two turns and finishing with good energy. So, fingers crossed [heading into the Kentucky Oaks].”

Meanwhile, trainer Bill Mott was not discouraged by Just F Y I's first career defeat. “We didn't win but our second main objective was to get a race in her and have her ready for the next one,” he said. “So I am not totally disappointed. She got beat, but I can give some reasons for that. The Kentucky Oaks has been the plan all along, so I see no reason not to do that.”

The Oaks will be run Friday, May 3, exactly four weeks after the Ashland.

Pedigree Notes:

Not too many major races go by without some sort of impact made by Into Mischief, who is on a five-year reign as the leading sire in North America. Leslie's Rose is the newest Grade I winner for the Spendthrift kingpin, who has 21 of his 70 graded winners at the highest level, as well as 147 black-type winners worldwide. The Ashland winner does mark Into Mischief's first stakes winner out of a Galileo (Ire) mare, somewhat remarkable as that exceptional late sire has 323 stakes winners out of his daughters and the mating on paper alone represents the old adage of breeding the best to the best. More unusually, Leslie's Rose is inbred 4×5, on top and bottom, to Clever Trick. That one's son Tricky Creek is damsire of Into Mischief, while his son Phone Trick is damsire of Leslie's Rose's granddam Wildwood Flower.

Leslie's Rose is a third generation John D. Gunther-bred, who partnered with Eurowest Bloodstock Services for her mating. Her dam, Gunther's unraced Wildwood Rose (Ire), came to American shores as a 2-year-old in 2018. Gunther may have sold Leslie's Rose, but he has retained the mare's juvenile filly, named Divine Rose (Good Magic), and he also has a two-week-old filly out of the mare by Not This Time. Wildwood Rose's dam, SW & MGSP Wildwood Flower, produced 2015 GI Florida Derby winner Materiality (Afleet Alex) and 2014 GII Gazelle S. winner and GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up My Miss Sophia (Unbridled's Song). The latter produced 2022 GI Coolmore Turf Mile S. winner Annapolis (War Front), while the extended family includes 2010 GI Travers S. winner Afleet Express (Afleet Alex) and 2015 GI Alabama S. winner Embellish the Lace (Super Saver).

 

Friday, Keeneland
CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND S.-GI, $598,750, Keeneland, 4-5, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:43.85, ft.
1–LESLIE'S ROSE, 121, f, 3, by Into Mischief
           1st Dam: Wildwood Rose (Ire), by Galileo (Ire)
           2nd Dam: Wildwood Flower, by Langfuhr
           3rd Dam: Dial a Trick, by Phone Trick
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. 'TDN Rising Star'. ($1,150,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP).O-Whisper Hill Farm, LLC; B-John D. Gunther & Eurowest Bloodstock Services (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr.. $358,050. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-1, $467,800. Werk Nick Rating: C. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Just F Y I, 121, f, 3, by Justify
           1st Dam: Star Act (SP, $147,605), by Street Cry (Ire)
           2nd Dam: Starrer, by Dynaformer
           3rd Dam: To the Hunt, by Relaunch
O/B-George Krikorian (KY); T-William I. Mott. $115,500.
3–Impel, 121, f, 3, by Quality Road
           1st Dam: Your Love (SW & GSP, $335,000), by Flatter
           2nd Dam: Queen of America, by Quiet American
           3rd Dam: Our Dear Ruth, by Baldski
1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE, 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. 'TDN Rising Star'. O/B-Juddmonte (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $57,750.
Margins: 3, 3/4, 1 1/4. Odds: 9.45, 4.63, 2.02.
Also Ran: Candied, Standoutsensation, Shimmering Allure, Jody's Pride, Halina's Forte.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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