Centre Court faces a tall order as she seeks her third consecutive graded stakes victory in a row, with Grade 1 winner Stephanie's Kitten and the blossoming Better Lucky among her rivals for the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.
Centre Court has won three races in a row, including two graded stakes events, for trainer Rusty Arnold. After breaking her maiden in her fourth career start in May at Churchill Downs, the Smart Strike filly immediately stepped into graded company, winning the Regret Stakes (G3) on June 16. She followed with a win in the Lake George Stakes (G2) July 25 at Saratoga, edging Better Lucky by a neck in a blanket finish.
Julien Leparoux, who was aboard Centre Court for the first time in the Lake George, retains the mount. They drew post two in the six-horse field.
Stephanie's Kitten, trained by Wayne Catalano, ended her 2011 campaign with victories in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2). The Kitten's Joy filly opened this season with a third-place finish in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1), then won the Edgewood Stakes May 4 at Churchill Downs. A high white cell count caused the filly to miss a planned trip to Royal Ascot in June; she returned to the races to finish a close fourth in the Lake George, where she lacked running room in the stretch. Stephanie's Kitten drew the rail under regular rider John Velazquez.
Better Lucky, a Darley Stable homebred trained by Tom Albertrani, won the Sands Point Stakes (G2) May 28 at Belmont Park in her first start on turf. The Ghostzapper filly followed that with a runner-up effort in the Lake George, where she was beaten just a neck by Centre Court after rallying four wide into the stretch. Eddie Castro has the mount on Better Lucky, who drew post four.
Medolina won her first three career starts, including the Tweedside Stakes at Belmont, before finishing fifth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the Lake George. Trainer Todd Pletcher also saddles Disposablepleasure, who finished fourth in her only try on turf, her career debut last summer at Saratoga. The filly won the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) last fall at Aqueduct and is Grade 1 placed this year.
Somali Lemonade, looking for her first win since last fall's Jessamine Stakes (G3) rounds out the field; the Michael Matz trainee was sixth in the Lake George.