Trainer Steven Chircop, who enjoyed a runner-up effort here last month from Joe DeMarinis’ Princess Mayfair in the Busanda, will look to go one better for the same connections with stakes-placed Lady Brew in Saturday’s Listed $150,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational.
Lady Brew, who boasts a record of 21-3-6-6 for purse earnings of $268,852, has notched wins on turf and synthetic at Woodbine. The five-year-old Point of Entry mare will cut back in distance for the one-turn mile affair following a distant third-place finish to likely returning rival Saddle Up Jessie in the nine-furlong Carousel on December 23 in her dirt debut at Laurel Park.
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Lady Brew, a half-sister to stakes-winner Shamans Girl, is out of the Milwaukee Brew mare Ginger Brew, who was named Canada’s Champion Three-Year-Old filly of 2008. Ginger Brew is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Bourbon Bay.
“With her pedigree from her father’s side, I was a little bit worried about the dirt. Her mom was a machine and ran on anything,” Chircop said. “Maybe just being on it and racing on it has made the difference. If she can get a pace set up, she’s going to run her race.”
Lady Brew, who campaigned exclusively at Woodbine prior to her most recent outing, did not race as a two-year-old and needed seven starts to break her maiden, which she accomplished in September 2022 one month after a fifth-place finish in the Bison City.
Last year, she brought her form to a new level, posting a record of 10-2-4-3, earning a career-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure in an October optional-claiming score ahead of a distant effort in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf in November when racing wide from the outermost post 12 going 12 furlongs.
“As a two-year-old, I thought Lady Brew was going to be a serious horse,” Chircop said. “It’s been a while getting going, but it seems like the older she’s getting the more she’s progressing into the horse we thought she would be.”
Lady Brew went a half-mile in 48.90 Friday over the Penn National dirt in her second breeze back and Chircop said he has been encouraged by her recent works.
“My goal by taking her away was to get her some black type and we were fortunate to get that in her first start,” Chircop said. “Her half-sister was a stakes-winner first out at Woodbine and she’s made a decent amount of money herself and seems to be putting it all together now. The sky is the limit and anything else she does is a bonus.
“She’s training as good right now as she’s ever trained in her life,” Chircop added. “I really like that the race is a one-turn mile and if she can get some pace, I think she’ll show up.”
Chircop said Princess Mayfair is slated for a possible return to the Big A next weekend in an allowance tilt as a prep for the Listed one-mile $200,000 Busher for three-year-old fillies, offering 50-25-15-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.
The West Coast dark bay made her first three starts over the Woodbine synthetic, graduating at second asking in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on December 2. She returned two weeks later to finish a game second against the boys in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claimer around two turns.
Last out, Princess Mayfair set the pace over muddy and sealed going in the nine-furlong Busanda, fighting on gamely down the lane to finish second, just one length back of the victorious Gin Gin. She earned 10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points for the gritty effort.
Chircop noted that Princess Mayfair encountered issues shipping to New York from Penn National on the morning of the Busanda when the van she was traveling on broke down more than an hour into the journey. The filly returned to Penn National as Chircop swiftly made other arrangements to ship the filly to the Big A for her dirt debut.
“She came out of the race really good – better than I expected,” Chircop said. “I really thought with everything that happened with shipping that day that it would have knocked her out.”
Princess Mayfair endured a difficult debut when a distant ninth sprinting six-furlongs in November at Woodbine, shying away from her pony in the pre-race buildup and throwing her rider. Once loaded into the gate, she broke awkwardly and never factored while racing wide.
She has raced with blinkers on in each start since, but Chircop said he is keen to take the head gear off going forward.
“I’d really like to get a race into her and take the blinkers off. Once Gin Gin passed her last time and she had seen the horse, she tried to come back,” Chircop said. “It was never a plan to put the blinkers on but after the disastrous first start running away from horses, I thought I better put the blinkers on her. But now it’s time to take them off. If she’s going to go in those big races, I need her to relax a little bit. She never wears the blinkers to work.”
A $50,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Princess Mayfair has banked $63,431 through a record of 4-1-2-0.