John C. Oxley’s Unbridled Reward has been made the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $100,000-added Debutante at Churchill Downs and Norman Casse, Churchill assistant to father and trainer Mark Casse, thinks that her class can help her prevail against a field of five other promising 2-year-old fillies.
“Temperament wise, she’s a really cool individual,” Casse said. “For a 2-year-old filly she has a lot of class to herself and I think that’s going to be the difference on Saturday. She just seems so mentally mature already that we can throw pretty much anything at her.”
Unbridled Reward took her maiden debut by an impressive 7 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs going 4 ½ furlongs on May 30. She is one of three 2-year-old winners for the Casse barn this meet, second to only trainer Steve Asmussen, who has five.
“There’s obviously a lot of preparation involved with these 2-year-olds,” Casse said. “We’re really lucky that in our Churchill division, when we get horses sent in from Ocala, they’re pretty much already ready to go. Then it’s just a matter of fitness and making sure they’re ready from the gate.
“She’s shown her hand early that she’s really talented. I like to match all the 2-year-olds up and sort them out by letting them work together and she definitely stands as one of the best ones we have and her first race proved that.”
Unbridled Reward was one of three winners on May 30 from Spendthrift Farm’s freshman sire Warrior’s Reward’s first three starters (the others were Liatris at Belmont Park and Strawberry Baby at Lone Star Park).
“Her sire is a freshman stallion who has gotten off to a really good start,” Casse said. “I think he won three races all on the same day with his first three starters so he should be an interesting stallion prospect, and anytime you can get a horse out of an Unbridled mare we can expect it to be a pretty good race horse.”
Unbridled Reward has recorded one workout since her debut victory, clocking a half-mile in :50.60 on June 14.
“She’s had one work since she ran which was really visually impressive; the time wasn’t great because they went off slow but when the rider asked her to run, she exploded, so she’s ready to run again,” Casse said.
The six-furlong Debutante will be run as the eighth of 10 races on Churchill’s Saturday card with an approximate post time of 4:18 p.m.
BLUEEYESINTHEREIN MAKES STAKES RETURN TO CHURCHILL FOR SIMMS
Self, Dorothy, King, Berry and Travis Morgeson V LLC’s Blueyesintherein, winner of the 2012 Debutante (GIII) at Churchill Downs, will return in the $65,000-added Roxelana on Debutante Day seeking her second stakes victory under the Twin Spires.
Trained by Garry Simms, Blueeyesintherein will break from post position two with morning-line odds of 12-1 in the Roxelana, an overnight stakes named for the 2000 La Troienne (GIII) winner trained by William “Blackie” Huffman.
After winning her debut and the Debutante as a 2-year-old, the daughter of Magna Graduate won two of five starts as a 3-year-old including the Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park. In her only start of 2014, she ran ninth in an optional claiming race at Oaklawn.
“I think she’s about 80-percent right now,” Simms said. “I’m just going to get a race in her and that’s the only race that fits her that she’s eligible for. I could be wrong, she could be a little more fit and better than I think she is right now, but either way I expect her to run better than she did last time out.”
Blueeyesintherein will get leading Churchill Downs rider Corey Lanerie up for the first time in the Roxelana, the ninth of 10 races on Saturday’s card.
“I certainly don’t think putting Corey up on her will hurt,” Simms said. “I try not to look into it too far. A lot of jockeys are good riders until somebody gets in their path, and then when they have to make decisions, that’s when they really show how good they are.”
Other notable contenders for Saturday’s Roxelana include Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Speedinthruthecity for trainer Steve Asmussen, who finished fifth in the Humana Distaff (GI) last out; Ten Broeck Farm Inc.’s Warm Breeze, last seen third in the Winning Colors (GIII) for trainer Grant Forster and Rob Auerbach and Marc Winston’s Quiet Success trained by Tom Amoss, who was runner-up in the Sugar Maple at Charles Town in her last effort.
DOWNS AFTER DARK: SUMMER LUAU GUESTS TO WEAR HAWAIIAN PRINTS
Friday night’s theme for the next Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka is “Summer Luau” where patrons are encouraged to wear casual Hawaiian-style prints.
Admission gates will open each day at 4 p.m. and the first of 10 races will begin at 6 p.m. The final live race will be 10:57 p.m.
The theme for the final Downs After Dark of the Spring Meet on Friday, June 27 is “Rockin’ in the USA,” a pre-Fourth of July holiday celebration with denim, Americana and lots of red, white and blue.
RESERVE YOUR SEATS FOR THE ‘TERRACE LOUNGE’ ON FRIDAY NIGHT
On Friday, Churchill Downs again will transform the new Grandstand Terrace into the “Terrace Lounge,” a 21-and-over lounge-style environment that features a live DJ, club/lounge style lighting and décor, premium food and cocktails and use of the grandstand terrace’s patio and stadium style seating.
Tickets to Downs After Dark in the lounge are $25 and can be reserved in advance with a limited total capacity. The Terrace Lounge will be available at all three Downs After Dark events this Spring, with the hopes of continuing it again in the future if successful.
For $99 per ticket, Churchill Downs is also offering Terrace Lounge VIP Cabana seating, which includes an open bar from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m., a premium buffet designed by Chef David Danielson and concierge wait service. These tickets reserve special plush seating for groups of any number within one of the four covered cabanas at the end of the Grandstand Terrace.
DOWN THE STRETCH
Diamond M Stable’s War Dancer, last seen taking the Louisville Handicap (GIII), breezed a half-mile on the turf in :50.40 for trainer Kenny McPeek. War Dancer is nominated to the June 28 Firecracker (GIII)…
Also nominated to the Firecracker, Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Silver Max, last seen fourth in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI), covered five furlongs in 1:04.80 on the grass for trainer Dale Romans…
Romans also trains Michael J. Bruder’s Guys Reward, who breezed a half-mile on the turf in :51.80. Guys Reward won the 2012 Firecracker Handicap and also is nominated for the 2014 edition.
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Friday, June 20 – Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka: The Summer Luau
Saturday, June 21
Sunday, June 22 – Family Adventure Day