Potential Star Amy's Challenge Returns in Dixie Belle Stakes
Although it’s not a graded stakes, the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes on January 20th at Oaklawn Park is a race that I’m very excited to watch.The six-furlong sprint has attracted a small but very talented field of seven three-year-old fillies, including a potential star that I’ve been waiting months to see in action: #6 Amy’s Challenge. Trained by McLean Robertson, the daughter of Artie Schiller was brilliant while racing at Canterbury Park in Minnesota last summer, defeating six male rivals to break her maiden by 16 ½ lengths before beating colts again in the Shakopee Juvenile Stakes, in which she clocked six furlongs in a rapid 1:09.58 and won in narrow fashion over the talented Mr. Jagermeister, with the rest of the field 18 lengths behind.
For these efforts, Amy’s Challenge received huge BRIS speed figures of 97 and 105, numbers that stamp her as a very talented filly. She was scheduled to run in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland last fall, but a setback derailed her campaign and she was given time off to prepare for 2018. She returned to the work tab in December and has posted four workouts since then, including a bullet half-mile in :47 4/5 on December 27th. While there’s a chance that she might need to get a race under her belt before returning to peak form, the raw talent and speed she displayed at Canterbury suggests that Amy’s Challenge could be a star in the making.
#5 Mia Mischief also looks like a promising filly. Hailing from the barn of Steve Asmussen, Mia Mischief—like Amy’s Challenge—possesses a lot of early speed, which she utilized to win a 6 ½-furlong allowance optional claiming race on November 25th at Churchill Downs by 3 ¾ lengths, earning a 99 BRIS speed figure. Mia Mischief has never finished out of the exacta in four starts and should find the six-furlong distance of the Dixie Belle to be perfect for her; the only question is whether she can match Amy’s Challenge on talent.
Given that every horse in the field has shown a tendency to race on or near the lead, I’m going to bet that Amy’s Challenge proves to be the “speed of the speed” and out-sprints her rivals to keep her unbeaten record intact. A longshot play could be #2 Secret Passion, who is 3-for-4 as a speed horse on dirt, but unleashed a late rally last time out to finish third in the one-mile La Senorita Stakes on turf at Retama Park. In the event of a pace meltdown, she could come running to get on the board.
$10 exacta: 6 with 5 ($10) $4 trifecta: 6 with 5 with 2,7 ($8) $3 trifecta: 6 with 2,7 with 5 ($6)