Mike G. Rutherford’s Stageplay was heavily backed at 3-5 in Saturday’s $150,000 Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds, and the talented gray miss lived up to all expectations with a 1 1/4-length victory under jockey Florent Geroux.
The score boosted Stageplay’s career earnings to $213,324 and, even more important, elevated the daughter of Curlin from the 19th spot to the third position on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.
The Silverbulletday awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the respective top four toward a starting berth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Stageplay had previously earned four points for her second in the November 28 Golden Rod S. (G2) at Churchill Downs, but found herself promoted into the upper echelons on the leaderboard thanks to this first graded victory.
Geroux allowed Stageplay to swing three wide around the first turn as the duo settled into a stalking spot just behind pacesetter Midnight on Oconee through half-mile splits of :24.18 and :47.89. They maintained their third-place position until entering the turn, when Stageplay ranged up to the outside of fellow stalker Lovable Lyss.
The two fillies took on Midnight on Oconee, but Lovable Lyss couldn’t keep pace as the leader fought back.
Stageplay stuck her head in front to get the three-quarters mark in 1:12.60 and gradually pulled away under left-handed urging. She stopped the clock in 1:43.76 for a mile and 70 yards on the fast main track.
Midnight on Oconee was easily best of the rest, 4 3/4 lengths up on Jet Black Magic to earn a spot on the Oaks leaderboard with four points. Jet Black Magic captured the Delta Downs Jackpot (G2) and added two points to bring her leaderboard tally to 12. She currently sits in fifth. Lovable Lyss was making her stakes bow in this spot and took home one point when another half-length back in fourth.
Stageplay is now 4-3-1-0 in her career, having captured her debut at Keeneland and the Rags to Riches S. at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen. The gray lass’s only loss to date came back under the Twin Spires in the Golden Rod, a mark she could be aiming to erase come the first Friday in May.
Florent Geroux (jockey, Stageplay, winner): “She’s a very intelligent filly. Very smart. She broke very sharply from the gate and from there I just sent her along. She did the rest and dragged me to the lead and collected the win.”
Steve Asmussen (trainer, Stageplay, winner): “She’s a very talented filly. I’m very fortunate to have her for Mr. Rutherford. She came in from GoldMark and they had the highest opinion of her and she’s definitely not disappointed.”
James Graham (jockey, Midnight on Oconee, 2nd): “I got a little bit of a breather coming out of the turn. Asmussen’s filly came at me and passed me, but I was getting back at her late. She’s hardy. She had to run to beat me.
Colby Hernandez (jockey, Jet Black Magic, 3rd): “I had a great trip. It set up exactly how we wanted and she ran a big race.”