Fille d’Esprit won the six-furlong Politely Nov. 25 at Laurel. (Jim McCue/MJC)
Among Six $100,000 Stakes on Christmastide Day Monday, Dec. 26 at Laurel Park
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit returns to open company chasing a sixth career stakes win and third in a row in the $100,000 Willa On the Move Dec. 26 at Laurel Park.
Trainer Jerry Robb will be seeking his first victory in the Willa On the Move, having run second with Princess Kokachin in 2021. Fille d’Esprit won the seven-furlong Maryland Million Distaff Oct. 22 and six-furlong Politely Nov. 25 at Laurel, where she owns 10 wins from 17 lifetime starts.
“She’s doing amazing,” Robb said. “it’s incredible how she just keeps doing her thing, but I’ve had a few back-to-back like her, so I’ve been spoiled.”
Fille d’Esprit follows in the footsteps of mares such as Anna’s Bandit and Street Lute, who Robb trained to 27 wins, 19 in stakes, and more than $1.4 million in purse earnings since 2016. Anna’s Bandit and Fille d’Esprit share No Armistice as a grandsire, which led Robb to claim Fille d’Esprit for $10,000 Aug. 21, 2020.
“You just have to watch them closely and let them tell you what they need to do,” Robb said, “and listen to them.”
For the fourth time in her last six starts, Fille d’Esprit drew the rail as she returns to open company. Her last open victory came in the seven-furlong Seeking the Pearl Aug. 16 at Colonial Downs.
“She can do anything you ask her to do,” Robb said. “She can go to the front or lay off of it. Post position doesn’t matter to her.
“She’s coming off a couple of good spots,” he added. “This one is open, so it’ll be a little tougher competition. I looked at the field and there’s some nice fillies in there, for sure, but I wouldn’t trade my cards for theirs.
Baxter Racing Stable’s Swayin to and Fro is five-for-six lifetime at Laurel whose two most recent wins have come in stakes – the six-furlong Shine Again against Maryland-bred/sired horses Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course and the open Safely Kept sprinting seven furlongs Nov. 26 at Laurel.
Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya is a multiple stakes winner on dirt at Laurel who returned to the main track last out after six straight turf outings to win an open six-furlong allowance Oct. 30 at Laurel, a race where Swayin to and Fro finished third. Trained by Lacey Gaudet, the 5-year-old mare ran fourth in last year’s Willa On the Move.
Also entered are Union Lake, third in the Sept. 2 Prioress (G2) at Saratoga; Politely runner-up Juror Number Four; Moody Woman, third in the Sept. 24 Weather Vane at Pimlico and fourth in the Safely Kept; Fouette, a last out winner sprinting six furlongs at Aqueduct Dec. 8; Movie Moxie and Flashy Charge.
Willa On the Move was a Maryland-bred daughter of Assert (IRE) that raced 12 times as a 3-year-old in 1988 winning five stakes, including the Marshua and Gay Matelda at Laurel Park and Moccasin and Caesar’s Wish at Pimlico. From there she won the Ashland (G1), ran third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) and second in the Gazelle (G1) and Spinster (G1) before being retired following the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1