JENNY WILEY STAKES | PURSE: $300,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/16 MILES (TURF)
In her only prior Grade 1 tilt, G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s homebred Centre Court couldn't catch a loose-on-the-lead Dayatthespa in last October's Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland. But exactly six months later at the same venue, in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Jenny Wiley, Centre Court overhauled the front-running Daisy Devine and drew off by two lengths.
The Rusty Arnold-trained Centre Court had won both of her starts since the last Keeneland meet. An impressive two-length winner of the November 17 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs, she returned to action with another daylight success in the March 16 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park. Bettors believed that she would earn her Grade 1 breakthrough here and dispatched her as the 8-5 choice.
Daisy Devine, who stole last year's Jenny Wiley, sprinted to a clear early lead in her title defense. This time, however, she rattled off much faster splits of :23 4/5, :48 and 1:12 on the firm turf. Quiet Oasis raced in second, while Centre Court was well placed in third by regular rider Julien Leparoux, who had deftly moved off the rail into the clear.
Turning for home, Daisy Devine was still going with gusto up front. Centre Court emerged as her only serious challenger, and her rally proved relentless down the stretch. The favorite pulled clear in a final time of 1:41 3/5 for 1 1/16 grassy miles and paid $5.40, $3 and $2.40.
Daisy Devine held second by 1 3/4 lengths from the late-running Samitar, who had been fourth in the QEII and most recently second to Centre Court in the Honey Fox. Better Lucky grabbed fourth and was followed under the line by Ausus, Abaco, Old Tune, Quiet Oasis and Hard Not to Like.
Centre Court has now bankrolled $746,012 from her 11-6-4-0 line. Her lone unplaced effort came in her debut sprinting on dirt as a juvenile. Not seen again until early in her three-year-old season, when she switched to turf, and stretched out to two turns, Centre Court twice missed narrowly before breaking through with a 4 3/4-length maiden tally at Churchill.
The Kentucky-bred dark bay took an immediate class test in the Regret, passed with flying colors, and has remained in graded stakes company ever since. Centre Court headed to Saratoga, where she made it three in a row in the Lake George. Just denied late by Stephanie's Kitten in the Lake Placid at the Spa, she again settled for second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, but capped the year on a high note in the Mrs. Revere.
Bred by Humphrey in partnership with the Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust, Centre Court is a half-sister to Grade 3 victor Ravel. They are out of the Grade 2-winning A.P. Indy mare Let, who is in turn a half-sister to Eagle Cafe, winner of the 2002 Japan Cup Dirt.
Centre Court's third dam is the Grade 3-winning Damascus mare Doubles Partner, who is a daughter of French Group 3 victress Fabuleux Jane. Other foals of Fabuleux Jane, who was third in the 1977 runnings of the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille, include Grade 1-winning stallion Joyeux Danseur and listed-scoring sire Fabuleux Dancer.
Fabuleux Jane is a half-sibling to English and French champion sprinter Ajdal; Grade 1 queen Flying Partner, who ran third in the 1982 Kentucky Oaks; and English Group 1 winner Formidable. Fabuleux Jane is probably best known for being the granddam of champion Arazi and English highweight Noverre, both sires.
This is also the family of Grade 2-winning sire Exchange Rate and Japanese champions Dance in the Mood, Dance Partner and Dance in the Dark.