Gardenia Headlines Biggest Day of the Year at Ellis Park

Molly Morgan, whose value has increased greatly since her last visit to Ellis Park, returns to the western Kentucky track on Saturday as the likely favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Gardenia, a one-mile event for fillies and mares.

A 50-1 chance in the 2013 Gardenia, Molly Morgan was only three lengths adrift of Devious Intent at the finish. In between the pair were Magic Hour, a subsequent stakes winner at Indiana Downs, and dual champion female sprinter Groupie Doll.

Molly Morgan has improved this season, beginning with a second-place effort to On Fire Baby in the La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. She reversed that result in emphatic style, taking the Fleur de Lis Handicap by four lengths June 14. Last time, the Ghostzapper mare finished fifth of six in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap.

Quiet Success has been repelled in her last two outings as the odds-on favorite, settling for second in the $200,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town and the $100,000 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. The Tom Amoss trainee figures to be on or close to the lead with Livi Makenzie, a noted performer in regional sprint stakes, and Ocean Bertie, who steps up in class after being claimed for $62,500 by Bret Calhoun last time.

Two fillies who scored convincing allowance wins last winter have room to improve in this spot. Interest Free, who captured a swiftly-run allowance over 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds in February, prevailed in the slop at Indiana Grand two back against similar company and might appreciate a return to two turns. Tapit's World, meanwhile, went unplaced in a pair of Grade 3 turf stakes recently, but cruised to a second-level allowance score at Oaklawn in March in her last race on dirt. Another of note in the Gardenia lineup is the multiple Grade 3-placed Frivolous, fourth in the Fleur de Lis two back in a rare dirt attempt.