Tenacious Filly Playlist Takes on the Boys

September 5, 2023

Playlist ups her win streak to three with an allowance score July 15 at Saratoga (NYRA/Coglianese)

Ward on Playlist: ‘In my mind, she will be very tough to beat’

By Tim Wilkin for Kentucky Downs

FRANKLIN, Ky.— Saturday’s seventh running of the Grade 2, $1 million The Exacta Systems Franklin-Simpson Stakes at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs is an equine battle of the sexes.

However, trainer Wesley Ward, whose filly Playlist is taking on eleven 3-year-old colts in the 6 1/2 furlong sprint, doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. Ward, who has had plenty of success running fillies against the colts, didn’t spend sleepless nights agonizing over whether this was the right thing to do.

“I like to run fillies against colts in sprints,” Ward said by phone. “I don’t think it makes a big difference. If you look at the times in the 2-year-olds in training sales, the fillies are always faster as a group. I think they can compete against the colts every time.”

Ward has enjoyed Kentucky Downs success when running fillies vs. colts in the past. He won the first two runnings of the $500,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes by beating the boys with Moonlight Romance in 2018 and Cambria in 2019.

Before entering Playlist in the Franklin-Simpson, Ward had his eyes on the Grade 3, $1 million Big Ass Fans Music City, which was run last Saturday. He did not get in.

Plan B was to run against the boys, even though the horse had to be supplemented for $30,000.

“The filly is training outstanding,” Ward said. “She is a big, robust filly, she looks like a colt. As well as she is training, I just thought she really needed to run for the money. I have won a lot of races vs colts, so I thought this would be a filly that could possibly do it.”

Playlist, a daughter of Uncle Mo, is owned by the Coolmore partnership of Westerberg, Susan Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor. She started her career slow and has blossomed as a 3-year-old.

She has gone to the races four times this year and has won three, the last two being most impressive, if you ask Ward.

Playlist was purchased for $400,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and Ward always had high hopes for her. She broke her maiden at Turfway on Feb. 18 by a half-length but it didn’t move the meter for the trainer. He called Dermont Ryan, the manager of Coolmore America, and advised giving Playlist some time off.

The R&R perked her up and she came back and posted two sparkling wins: an allowance at Ellis Park on June 15 by 5 ½ lengths (at odds of nearly 20-1!) and another allowance a month later at Saratoga by three-quarters of a length.

Ward was in England at Royal Ascot when Playlist won at Ellis.

“I just could not believe those odds,” he said. “I realized what I thought of her, but if you looked at the paper on her (one win in four starts and a long layoff line), her odds were right. If I was a gambling man – and I don’t bet – I would have been betting with both hands. She ran like I always thought she could.”

This will be Playlist’s first start at Kentucky Downs. She has run at five different tracks – Saratoga (twice), Ellis, Turfway, Santa Anita and Del Mar — in her six starts.

“She is well-traveled,” Ward said. “Being to many places always helps. You never know, but she is fast.”

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Playlist in the Franklin-Simpson and Ward is expecting to see something special.

“She duplicated the (Ellis race) at Saratoga,” Ward said. “I think she is going to run much better than she has in those races. Looking at the competition, in my mind, she will be very, very tough to beat.”

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