LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After Stonerside Farm began sponsoring the Beaumont Stakes, it took virtually no time at all for the stable to win its own race. Sahara Gold, with Jerry Bailey wearing the green-and-white Stonerside silks, won the 2000 running in the first year of sponsorship.
Since then, however, victory has proven elusive for Stonerside in the Beaumont, even though the farm likes to run a filly in the Grade 2 race whenever it can. This year might be another year for Stonerside's Bob McNair to present the winner's trophy to himself, as Sutra, winner of the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes last fall, looks like a major contender in the 22nd running of the $250,000 Beaumont on Thursday at Keeneland.
Sutra, with Garrett Gomez to ride, will break from post 7 in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies in the Beaumont, which is run at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet. Since rallying to win the Frizette at Belmont Park last October, Sutra has run ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, then second in her season debut, a March allowance sprint at Oaklawn Park. Trainer Mike Stidham hopes the March race will have Sutra primed to win again.
"There's plenty of speed in this race, and hopefully the filly can sit back and come get them, just like she did in the Frizette," said Stidham. "Obviously, this is a big day for Mr. McNair and all the Stonerside people, so we're looking for the filly to run real big."
Stidham said Sutra most likely is using the Beaumont as a prep for the La Troienne Stakes on the May 5 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.
The Beaumont sometimes is used as a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, and trainer Patrick Biancone is thinking Baroness Thatcher might stamp her ticket Thursday to that May 4 race.
"For the time being, we are thinking only of the Stonerside," said Biancone. "If she runs a very good race, then we'll see what to do."
Other major contenders in the Beaumont include Forever Together, an unbeaten gray filly who won the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream last out, and Street Sounds, who makes her first start since winning the Selima Stakes last November. The rest of the field is Pro Pink, Eternal Grace, Palace Pier, and Silverinyourpocket.
The Beaumont is the eight of nine races on a program that also includes three allowances (races 5, 6, and 7).