By Alan Carasso
Early Thursday, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners tweeted that Speech (Mr Speaker), second to GII Toyota Blue Grass favorite Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) in the GII Santa Anita Oaks June 6, would be withdrawn from Friday’s GIII Beaumont S. in favor of Saturday’s GI Ashland S., leaving a competitive field of five 3-year-old fillies for the seven-furlong affair.
‘TDN Rising Star‘ Wicked Whisper (Liam’s Map) kicks off her sophomore campaign Friday afternoon and should vie for favoritism. Impressive in breaking her maiden by 6 1/4 lengths over future SW & GSP Highland Glory (Sky Mesa) on Saratoga debut last August, the $500,000 Keeneland September yearling defeated recent GIII Victory Ride S. heroine and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Frank’s Rockette (Into Mischief) and Slam Dunk (Into Mischief) in the Oct. 6 GI Frizette S. by 2 3/4 front-running lengths. The chestnut faces the starter for the first time since a distant fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last November.
Janis Whitham’s Four Graces (Majesticperfection), a homebred half-sister to Airdrie Stud’s McCraken (Ghostzapper), is perfect in three starts at this tricky seven-furlong distance. A first-out winner at Gulfstream Mar. 1, she stubbed her toe when fourth over that track’s one-turn mile Apr. 10, but has since added a May 16 Churchill allowance and the June 6 GIII Dogwood S. Trainer Ian Wilkes also sends out Turtle Trax (Cairo Prince).
Should the two chief protagonists happen to cancel each other out on the front end, Sconsin (Include) could prove the chief beneficiary. A maiden winner at second asking off the turf at the Fair Grounds in February, the Lloyd Madison homebred was fourth in the aforementioned May 16 allowance in Louisville won by Four Graces and most recently belied odds of 19-1 to post a five-length victory from off the pace in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance beneath the Twin Spires June 13.