TCA Stakes key prep for F&M Sprint

LEXINGTON, Ky.-- The Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes proved an ideal prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last year when Dubai Majesty swept both races. Perhaps having noticed that, John Sadler is going out of his way in an attempt to follow an identical path with his standout filly, Switch, who has shipped in from Southern California and will go off Saturday as a solid favorite in the 31st running of the Grade 2, $200,000 TCA Stakes at Keeneland.

Switch, the runner-up in the Filly and Mare Sprint last November at Churchill Downs, has continued to excel in the 11 months that have passed and will bring a decided class edge to the six-furlong TCA. Joel Rosario will be in to ride Switch, who was assigned post 10 in a field of 11.

Because Switch has shown such versatility in her 16-race career, Sadler had wavered between the Filly and Mare Sprint and the Ladies' Classic as her Breeders' Cup berth before ultimately deciding to go this route. As a Win and You're In event, the TCA carries a guaranteed berth to the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

Although Switch exits back-to-back route races, both Grade 1 events on her home circuit, Keeneland fans surely will be betting that she has a sufficient amount of speed and tractability -- and certainly the class -- to prevail on this turn-back in distance.

If an upset is to happen, it could be from a couple of fillies who ran big races here last spring over the Keeneland Polytrack: Shotgun Gulch (post 2, Garrett Gomez), winner of the Grade 1 Madison, is back for breeder-owner-trainer C.R. Trout, while 3-year-old Holiday for Kitten (post 5, Julio Garcia), winner of the Giant's Causeway over older rivals, returns for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward.

"The way the filly ran here in the spring, and stretching out a little off those turf sprints, I thought we'd take a shot in here," said Ward.

Another consideration is Musical Romance (post 1, Juan Leyva), whose Calder-based co-owner and trainer, Bill Kaplan, is hoping to make the BC Filly and Mare Sprint with a late-closing filly enjoying a breakout year. Musical Romance has won 4 of her last 6 starts, all stakes, in building a 2011 bankroll of more than $460,000.

The TCA, named for the club whose headquarters are just west of the racetrack on U.S. 60, goes as the sixth of 10 races, with post time set for 4:01 p.m. Eastern. The TCA starts off a 50-cent all-stakes pick four and the 50-cent pick five.