Fredaville Favored in Merial Distaff

Classy mare Fredaville is the early favorite in the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship.

Q-Racing Journal
October 24, 2012

Robert Gentry’s classy homebred Fredaville looms as a dangerous threat in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1). The morning line favorite will break from the outside post. She is looking for vindication this year, as the mare was second in last year’s running of the race. The Merial Distaff Challenge at 400 yards is the spotlight race for 3-year-old and up fillies and mares on the Bank of America Challenge Championship program.

The well-traveled Fredaville (Mr Jess Perry-Fearless Freda by Dash For Cash) has the highest earnings in the field, with $266,571 from 34 career starts. The six-time stakes winner this year has made six starts and never been worse than third. They include wins in the Merial Remington Park Distaff Challenge and Merial Los Alamitos Distaff Challenge. She was second in the Junos Request Stakes (G2) and third in the Charger Bar Handicap (G2), Hialeah Invitational and most recently the Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1). She represents four generations of Gentry breeding – Robert and his brother, Bruce, bought the mare’s fourth dam, Cute Kiss, back in 1971. Fredaville is trained by Cody Joiner and will have champion jockey G.R. Carter Jr. aboard.

Fredaville isn’t the only representative of a long-term breeding program. Believers Gathering, too, is a fourth-generation homebred racing for AQHA Past President Walter Fletcher and his wife, Pat. The Fletchers bought this mare’s fourth dam, Sweet Mooner, as a 2-year-old in 1975. Believers Gathering is out of Prairie Meadows star None As Easy ($265,132), who won five stakes at the Iowa track. Believers Gathering is by Agouti, and has won or placed in 24 of her 44 career starts while earning $177,539. Believers Gathering is a three-time stakes winner, including two at the Iowa racetrack, and in 2010, was second in the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Fair Grounds.

Tommy Hays and Bobby Barnett’s Painted Sable (PYC Paint Your Wagon-Sables Dash by Dash Thru Traffic) has the advantage of coming into the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship off a win over the Prairie Meadows track. The Ed Hardy-trained Painted Sable responded with a half-length win as the 6-5 favorite in the Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge on September 15. Painted Sable also won the July 8 Hill Country Stakes at the Gillespie County Fair in Texas and was third in the Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge earlier this year.

Texas-bred and Canadian-owned and –raced mare Leanintoit (Tres Seis-First Lady Amber by Heza Fast Man) should not be dismissed, either. The mare is the definition of consistent, with 10 wins in 12 starts, including three of four this year. Owned by Don Ito and Richard Wincikaby of Ontario, she is a four-time stakes winner with earnings of $194,447. To date, she has raced exclusively at the Ontario racetracks of Ajax Downs and Fort Erie.

Bertha Venation (Corona Caliente-Dash To Glory by Texigo Star) nosed out a victory in the September 28 Merial Lone Star Distaff Challenge, one of three wins this year for the 5-year-old mare. Owned by Jose Luis Salazar of Laredo, Texas, the mare has been campaigned exclusively in Texas and Louisiana in her 21 starts. She is a five-time stakes winner, including the $98,900 Gillespie Co. Fair Futurity (G3) and $130,829 Firecracker Derby, appropriately won on the Fourth of July weekend in 2010. The mare has earned $168,091 in her career.

The complete field in post position order, from the inside out, including jockey and morning line odds:

L Bar D Snow Princes, J.L. Cruz, 12-1,
RTM Say Your Prayers, Allen Corson, 8-1,
Im A Feature Girl, Agustin Silva, 15-1,
Painted Sable, Stormy Smith, 6-1,
Believers Gathering, Cody Smith, 10-1,
Bertha Venation, Esgar Ramirez, 5-1,
Surprise Ending, Juan Vazquez, 15-1,
Leanintoit, Cody Jensen, 7-2,
Corona For You, Alejandro Luna, 12-1,
Fredaville, G.R. Carter Jr., 3-1