Fille d’Esprit hunting sixth stakes win in Willa On the Move

C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit returns to open company chasing a sixth career stakes win and third in a row in the $100,000 Willa On the Move Dec. 26 at Laurel Park.

Trainer Jerry Robb will be seeking his first victory in the Willa On the Move, having run second with Princess Kokachin in 2021. Fille d’Esprit won the seven-furlong Maryland Million Distaff Oct. 22 and six-furlong Politely Nov. 25 at Laurel, where she owns 10 wins from 17 lifetime starts.

“She’s doing amazing,” Robb said. “It’s incredible how she just keeps doing her thing, but I’ve had a few back-to-back like her, so I’ve been spoiled.”

Fille d’Esprit has five stakes wins thus far in 2022. According to Equibase, only one horse in the nation, the New Mexico-bred and -based Bella Donna, has more.

Fille d’Esprit follows in the footsteps of mares such as Anna’s Bandit and Street Lute, whom Robb trained to 27 wins, 19 in stakes, and more than $1.4 million in purse earnings since 2016. Anna’s Bandit and Fille d’Esprit share No Armistice as a grandsire, which led Robb to claim Fille d’Esprit for $10,000 Aug. 21, 2020.

Robb also trained Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Famer Little Bold John.

“You just have to watch them closely and let them tell you what they need to do,” Robb said, “and listen to them.”

For the fourth time in her last six starts, Fille d’Esprit drew the rail as she returns to open company. Her last open victory came in the seven-furlong Seeking the Pearl Aug. 16 at Colonial Downs.

“She can do anything you ask her to do,” Robb said. “She can go to the front or lay off of it. Post position doesn’t matter to her.

“She’s coming off a couple of good spots,” he added. “This one is open, so it’ll be a little tougher competition. I looked at the field and there’s some nice fillies in there, for sure, but I wouldn’t trade my cards for theirs.

Among the rivals she’ll face are Swayin to and Fro, another former claimer who won the Safely Kept last out and is five-for-six over the strip; veteran Dontletsweetfoolya, who arrives off an allowance win; and the Grade 3-placed sophomore Union Lake.