In Italian Shoots for Title Defense in G1 First Lady

October 5, 2023

In Italian an easy winner of the Jenny Wiley (G1) April 15 at Keeneland (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

By Amber Joyce

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Peter Brant’s four-time Grade 1 winner In Italian will be in pursuit of a title defense in Saturday’s $750,000 First Lady (G1), a one-mile turf affair for fillies and mares ages three years old and upward, at Keeneland. 

One of three entries in the First Lady for trainer Chad Brown, In Italian enters from a nose defeat by stablemate Whitebeam—who she’ll face again on Saturday—in the Diana (G1) July 15 at Saratoga. The five-year-old Dubawi mare carved out the fractions and appeared to be on her way to defending her title, only to be denied the win in the final stages. 

In Italian’s Diana defeat followed a pair of gate-to-wire Grade 1 victories in the Just a Game June 9 at Belmont Park and the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. Following her win in last year’s First Lady, In Italian closed out the year in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, finishing second. 

Joel Rosario has the mount from post position three.

Juddmonte’s British homebred Whitebeam [Flavien Prat, post position two] looks to turn the tables on her stablemate once again. The four-year-old Caravaggio filly, a three-time winner across the pond for trainers Harry and Roger Charlton, has won two of three stateside starts.

She made her first stateside start in the Plenty of Grace April 16 at Aqueduct, just missing the win by a neck behind eventual Grade 2 winner Evvie Jets, also entered in the First Lady. Whitebeam found the winner’s circle next out in the Gallorette (G3) May 20 at Pimlico, displaying a swift turn of foot to score a 2 ½ length triumph. Her Diana upset followed. 

Rounding out the Chad Brown-trained trio and Peter Brant-owned duo is last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) victress, Gina Romantica [Tyler Gaffalione, post position one], who has yet to notch a win since that aforementioned Grade 1.  

A four-year-old filly by Spendthrift Farm’s leading sire Into Mischief, Gina Romantica was last seen rallying for second behind Fev Rover in the Beverly D (G1) Aug. 12 at Colonial Downs. 

The Estate of Robert J. Amendola’s five-year-old Twirling Candy mare Evvie Jets [Jose Ortiz, post position eight], who denied Whitebeam a winning welcome to the states, makes her Grade 1 debut in the First Lady for trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci. Evvie Jets scored the biggest win of her career last-out in the Ballston Spa (G2) Aug. 24 at Saratoga.

British-bred Jumbly [John Velazquez, post position four] returns to the states for the first time since finishing third in the Ballston Spa. The four-year-old filly by Gleneagles tried the Matron (G1) Sep. 9 and finished fifth beaten six lengths behind star filly Tahirya. 

Jumbly was notably a nose winner of the Valiant (G3) July 23, 2022, at Ascot. Joseph O’Brien trains for owner Doreen Tabor. 

Rounding out the field are Lazy F Ranch’s two-time graded stakes-winning Gam’s Mission [Adam Beschizza, post position five] for trainer Cherie Devaux, five-time winner Thisnameisokay [Joe Rocco, Jr., post position six] for owner Selvin R. Hernandez Cano and trainer Steve Cooper, and Qatar Racing LLC, Marc Detampel, and Fergus Galvin’s Grade 2 winner New Year’s Eve [Luis Saez, post position seven], trained by Brendan Walsh. 

The First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare is one of five graded stakes on Keeneland’s Saturday card. Others carded are the Woodford (G2) Presented by FanDuel, Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile (G1). 

The Thoroughbred Club of America, Breeders’ Futurity, and Turf Mile are all part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In and will provide the winner with an automatic and free entry into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), respectively. 

The field for the First Lady (G1) with riders, trainers, and weights from the rail out:

1Gina RomanticaTyler GaffalioneChad Brown124
2WhitebeamFlavien PratChad Brown124
3In ItalianJoel RosarioChad Brown124
4JumblyJohn VelazquezJoseph O’Brien124
5Gam’s MissionAdam BeschizzaCherie DeVaux124
6ThisnameisokayJoe Rocco, Jr.Steve Cooper124
7New Year’s EveLuis SaezBrendan Walsh124
8Evvie JetsJose OrtizMertkan Kantarmaci124

Contributing Authors

Amber Joyce, Editor

Amber Joyce grew up with a practically innate love for racehorses, her mom being a former exercise rider and trainer of off-the-track thoroughbreds. For the...

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