With seven wins and more than $1.2 million in career earnings, it is safe to say Evening Jewel is the type of horse who rarely has a bad day on the racetrack.
In Thursday's Grade I Vinery Madison Stakes, the bay filly will try to duplicate one of the best outings of her life.
Evening Jewel, trained by Jim Cassidy, put herself on the radar last spring when she won the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland prior to getting beat by the narrowest of noses to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks.
Unlike last season when Evening Jewel was a promising but unproven commodity heading into the Ashland, the daughter of Northern Afleet comes into the seven-furlong Vinery Madison as a multiple graded stakes winner. After the Ashland, she won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on the turf as well as the Grade II Honeymoon and San Clemente handicaps last summer.
After opening the 2011 season with a fifth-place finish in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes on Jan. 2 – — just the second off-the-board finish for her in 17 career starts — Evening Jewel bounced back to take the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 29 and ran second in the Valentine Dancer Handicap over the turf on Feb. 26.
"At first, I thought she might have lost a little bit from last year when she didn't do so well coming down the hill (at Santa Anita), but then she picked it up against Cal-breds," Cassidy said. "In her last start, she got trapped in a four-horse field and had no chance to show what she could do."
Among the challengers Evening Jewel will face on Thursday is defending Vinery Madison winner Dr. Zic. The daughter of Milwaukee Brew has lost four straight since that breakthrough victory and is making her first start since finishing ninth in the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland last October.
Multiple graded stakes winner Amen Hallelujah was the 2-to-1 morning-line favorite for the Vinery Madison but is expected to be scratched after her trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was denied a racing license in Kentucky on Wednesday.