Unlike the previous 11 races in the sequence, the one-mile-and-70-yard affair is not graded. However, it does kick off Fair Grounds’ series of stakes for three-year-old fillies that culminates in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 26.
Even more important, the 24th running of the Silverbulletday offers 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers toward a starting berth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Each of the eight fillies entered will be doing her best to take home the winning four points on Saturday, and the field is evenly split between experienced stakes competitors and black-type debuters.
Jet Black Magic, More Than Most, Midnight on Oconee and Stageplay all have a stakes background already.
Jet Black Magic romped over the sealed, muddy track in the one-mile Delta Downs Princess (G3) last out on November 21, which followed a third-place effort in the My Trusty Cat while sprinting seven furlongs. The Bret Calhoun trainee opened her career with a 2 1/4-length victory at Indiana Grand on September 2 and finished second under the Twin Spires just 25 days later in her first try against winners.
Stablemate More Than Most brings a two-race win streak into the Silverbulletday after breaking her maiden at Churchill going a mile. The dark bay miss then shipped to Retama Park for a 4 1/2-length triumph in the grassy La Senorita S. for Calhoun last out in early October, and will be returning to the main track for this one.
Like the two Calhoun fillies, Stageplay also owns valuable (Kentucky Oaks) experience at Churchill Downs thanks to a score in the Rags to Riches S. and runner-up effort in the Golden Rod S. (G2) just 17 days apart. The Steve Asmussen pupil has gone off favored in all three of her lifetime starts thus far, including her three-length maiden debut win at Keeneland.
Midnight on Oconee is the only one of the four who doesn’t already boast a stakes win or experience at Churchill, but she does have trainer Larry Jones in her corner so it’s entirely forgivable in this spot. The three-year-old lass broke her maiden last August at Delaware Park by five lengths, then finished second in an allowance at Keeneland in early October. She posted a three-length victory in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds, then shipped to Remington Park to be fourth in her stakes bow, the Trapeze S., most recently on December 13.
All four of these fillies have been working at Fair Grounds to ready for the Silverbulletday.
Stageplay most recently was caught last Sunday breezing five furlongs in 1:02.40 over the good track. That followed a five-furlong bullet move in 1:01.20 on January 3 on the fast dirt. More Than Most also worked last Sunday, posting a half-mile in :49.40.
Jet Black Magic covered five-eighths January 9 on a sloppy track in 1:05, while Midnight on Oconee recorded the most recent move when going five furlongs Monday over a fast track in 1:01.
The other four fillies in the Silverbulletday – Banner Waving, Annabelle, Lovable Lyss and Northwest Tales – boast at least one win on their resumes.
Annabelle and Lovable Lys have gone beyond just a maiden win and scored in allowance/optional claimers. The former did so at Churchill, but Lovable Lys went one better with a five-length, wire-to-wire victory at Fair Grounds going the Silverbulletday distance of a mile and 70 yards on December 17.
That could prove very useful come Saturday for the Hugh Robertson-trained Lovable Lys.
Jet Black Magic photo courtesy of Delta Downs/Coady Photography