The Juddmonte Spinster Stakes has long been a coveted jewel among stakes races for older females in the fall, and this year’s edition on Oct. 10 at Keeneland Race Course drew one of the best dirt horses on the planet of either sex in superstar Letruska.
Letruska will try to add to her burgeoning résumé a race won by past superstars such as Azeri, Inside Information, Paseana, Bayakoa, and Gallant Bloom. The Spinster is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, offering the winner an expenses-paid berth in the 1 1/8-mile race Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
1. Dunbar Road (5-1 morning-line odds): She finished only three-quarters of a length behind Spinster entrant Letruska in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti, but her last win was six starts ago in July 2020. She’s talented enough to be competitive here and has run a couple of nice races on this main track but looks more likely to fill out the exacta or trifecta than win the race.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Chad Brown
2. Bonny South (9-2): Won the Grade 3 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes on this main track in the spring and enters off a promising second to Letruska in the aforementioned Personal Ensign Stakes, in which she was beaten by a half-length. A logical pick to complete the exacta under Letruska or post the mild upset should she falter.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
3. Town Avenger (20-1): After making her first three starts on the grass, this 3-year-old filly won an off-the-turf allowance race by 9 ¼ lengths. This is a salty spot for Town Avenger’s graded stakes debut … we’ll see if she’s up to a massive test in class. On paper, she’s not fast enough.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux; TRAINER: Brian Lynch
4. Letruska (4-5): She’s seized command of the older dirt female division with a four-race winning streak that includes three Grade 1 wins. Letruska is fast enough to run the competition off their feet and game as can be when confronted with a late challenge. She’s been mentioned as a Horse of the Year contender and you’d have to expect she takes care of business here having already beaten three of the six entered.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Fausto Gutierrez
5. Envoutante (6-1): She was beaten by 6 ½ lengths by Letruska two starts back and enters off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs. Hard to see her making up more than six lengths on Letruska, but Envoutante has finished in the top three in 11 of her 14 career starts while facing elite competition.
JOCKEY: Brian J. Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
6. Crystal Ball (5-1): Enters off a second-place finish in the Locust Grove, beaten by a neck a terrific filly in Shedaresthedevil while 1 ½ lengths clear of Spinster entrant Envoutante. With three wins and two losses by less than a length in five starts this year, Crystal Ball could be the main threat to beat Letruska but this will be a major hurdle as she has yet to win a graded stakes.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Rodolphe Brisset
7. High Regard (20-1): She is winless in six starts this year with only one top-three finish and is overmatched from a speed-figure perspective. Best-case scenario for this deep closer to sneak into the trifecta would be if several runners challenge Letruska early leading to a blistering and taxing pace.
JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano; TRAINER: Victoria Oliver
THE PICK: Letruska
LIVE LONGSHOT: Dunbar Road