Perfect Alibi
Perfect Alibi won the Grade 1 Spinaway in 2019. Photo by Susie Raisher.

Tracy Farmer’s Grade 1 winner Perfect Alibi, fed a steady diet of graded-stakes since last summer, will take a step back as she looks to regain her winning form in the $100,000 Weber City Miss Monday, Sept. 7 at Laurel Park.

The fifth running of the Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies at about 1 1/16 miles is one of five $100,000 stakes on a special Labor Day holiday program that caps Preakness Prep Weekend and also features the Federico Tesio, which serves as a ‘Win and In’ event for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the 145th Preakness (G1) Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course.

Once again, the Weber City Miss will serve as a ‘Win and In’ race for the 96th Black-Eyed Susan (G2), this year on the Preakness undercard. It has been won in previous years by Las Setas (2019), Goodonehoney (2018), Lights of Medina (2017) and A P Majetstic, via disqualification (2016).

A trio of turf stakes are also scheduled – the 5 ½-furlong Laurel Dash and 1 1/16-mile Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and 1 1/8-mile All Along for fillies and mares 3 and up. Post time for Monday’s 10-race program is 12:40 p.m.

Perfect Alibi opened her career with wins in three of her first four starts including the Adirondack (G2) and Spinaway (G1) last summer at Saratoga for trainer Mark Casse, a member of the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The daughter of Sky Mesa went on to run second in the Alcibiades (G1) and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to cap her rookie season.

“When she’s on her game, she’s something,” Casse said. “She’s a little bit of an unusual filly in that she never really trains great. So, when we ran her as a 2-year-old, it was a bit of a surprise how well she ran and she continued to run well.”

A belated start to her sophomore campaign, in part due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which paused racing around the country, pushed Perfect Alibi’s debut to the June 20 Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park, where she ran fifth as Gamine romped by 18 ¾ lengths in a stakes-record 1:32.55 for one mile.

The two fillies hooked up again in their last start, the seven-furlong Test (G1) Aug. 8 in Saratoga. Gamine, the program favorite for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), cruised by seven lengths while Perfect Alibi came in a distant fourth.

“She came out of the race fine. She just hasn’t been herself this year yet, so we’re just kind of searching and hoping that we can get her back on her track,” Casse said. “2020, we had a delayed start getting her going and in fairness to her, she’s had to come back against some extremely tough horses and it’s just taking her some time. It’s been a little tough. This seems like it could be a good spot for her so that’s why we’re doing it.”

Victor Carrasco is named to ride Perfect Alibi from Post 2 as the co-topweight of 124 pounds in a field of 13.

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Project Whiskey, 38-1 upset winner of the Delaware Oaks (G3) July 4, will make her third straight start at the distance in the Weber City Miss. Last out, the bay daughter of Florida Derby (G1) winner Dialed In was second to Kentucky Oaks-bound Hopeful Growth in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) Aug. 1.

Winner of the Parx Juvenile Fillies last fall over her home track, Project Whiskey capped her 2-year-old season with a troubled seventh behind Hello Beautiful in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship at Laurel. She ran sixth in her 2020 season opener going six furlongs May 25 at Churchill Downs to Frank’s Rockette. Both Hello Beautiful and Frank’s Rockette are running in Saturday’s Prioress (G2) at Saratoga.

“We had to go all the way to Kentucky to get a race for her during the COVID situation but we did get that race in her and she came back and ran a bang-up race in the Delaware Oaks,” trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr. said. “She came back again with a nice effort in the Monmouth Oaks. She got in a little bit of a speed duel early and she showed a lot of gameness to keep on going like she did. Plus, she was carrying a whole lot of weight that day. We asked a lot of her in that one and she certainly didn’t embarrass anybody.”

Reid said he adjusted Project Whiskey’s preparations ahead of her next start, giving her a pair of solid works at Parx, most recently a half-mile move in 47.82 seconds, handily, Aug. 28, the second-fastest of 17 horses.

“She’s got good natural speed but she was a little amped up in that last race. I’m not exactly sure why. She was a little unsettled back in the receiving barn so I think she was a little bit overdone,” Reid said. “We changed up her training this time and trained her a little harder so maybe she won’t be quite so fresh and the jock will have a little more control over her earlier where she’ll settle in for him. But, she’s never going to be too far back.”

A winner of 790 career races including 10 graded-stakes and more than $25 million in purse earnings since 1985, Reid said the ‘Win and In’ incentive made the Weber City Miss an attractive target for Project Whiskey.

“Absolutely. That definitely plays a role in it,” he said. “We’ve had our eye on the Black-Eyed Susan since early in the year. That’s been a little bit of an albatross for me. I’ve been second, third and fourth in the race, so it’s a race that we’ve been trying to win for a few years.”

Speedway Stable’s Grand Cru Classe, unraced at 2 and undefeated through her only two starts at 3, will step up into stakes company for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The daughter of champion Bernardini broke her maiden over a sloppy, sealed track by 8 ¾ lengths May 24 at Gulfstream Park,  then followed up with a four-length triumph against winners going one mile June 9 at Belmont, both races coming over her elders. Julian Pimentel is named to ride from Post 1.

Also making the jump into stakes competition is Soggy Dollar Racing’s Breviary, who takes a three-race win streak into the Weber City Miss. Like Grand Cru Classe, the Super Ninety Nine chestnut will be facing straight 3-year-old fillies for the first time after maiden claiming, allowance and optional claiming allowance victories going one mile, all at Laurel.

“I’m really excited about seeing her go two turns. She hasn’t had an opportunity yet and she just seems like a filly that’s going to really enjoy that,” trainer Carl Doran said. “Obviously, there’s some nice horses going in there … but she hasn’t done anything wrong yet.

“I hate to keep on thinking that she’s even going to be a contender in here because I don’t want to get my hopes up,” he added. “But, she’s taken us here and I’m really excited even though it’s going to be against some nice horses.”

Breviary has shown a versatility to come from off the pace, as he did in her first two wins, before a mostly front-running triumph last out Aug. 20 when she drew off to a popular 3 ½-length score under Jevian Toledo, who returns to ride from Post 4.

“We’re a little bit hesitant because of the time frame but it just seems sometimes you can’t control the distance between things that are coming up,” Doran said. “It’d be nice to have a little bit more time, but we’re just taking it step by step and seeing how she was. Right now she’s not giving us any indication that she shouldn’t go for it.”

Laurel’s summer meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez entered the pair of Beyond the Wire winner Princess Cadey and Gin Talking runner-up Ankle Monitor to run back eight days after they finished third and fourth, respectively, separated by a length in the Charles Town Oaks (G3). The race was Ankle Monitor’s first since finishing seventh in the Beyond the Wire, while Princess Cadey ran third in the Delaware Oaks and eighth in the Monmouth Oaks.

Lasting Union, stakes-placed Lucky Jingle, Malibeauty, Market Rumor, Overjoyed, So Darn Hot and Willkissforkarats complete the field.

Weber City Miss won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Hilltop and finished second in the Alabama (G1) and third in the Ladies Handicap (G1) to be named Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 1980. Nine of her 17 career wins came in stakes, including the 1982 Beldame (G1). As a broodmare, her first foal was multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Slew City Slew.