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War Dancer Starting High Weight in Saturday's 77th Louisville Handicap

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/22/2014 #
  • Louisville high weight War Dancer chased Unitarian home in Keeneland's Elkhorn (Coady Photography, Keeneland)

  • Ken McPeek, trainer of War Dancer (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Roger Attfield, trainer of Forte Dei Marmi-GB (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

Magdalena Racing and Diamond M StablesWar Dancer, winner of the 2013 Virginia Derby (Grade II) and runner-up in last month’s Elkhorn (GII) at Keeneland, is the 118-pound starting high weight in a field of eight older horses that were entered for Saturday’s 77th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs.

The Louisville Handicap, a 1 ½-mile marathon over the Matt Winn Turf Course, will be run as the final race on a 10-race program at approximately 5:20 p.m. EDT. First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m. EDT.

Conditioned by two-time Louisville Handicap-winning trainer Kenny McPeek, War Dancer has banked $475,443 from three wins, three seconds and a third in 12 starts. The 4-year-old War Front colt, who had the lead in the $250,000 Elkhorn with an eighth of a mile to go only to be caught in the final yards by Unitarian, will break from post position two under Alan Garcia.

Stella Perdomo’s Forte Dei Marmi-GB, who’ll break from the rail under Calvin Borel and 117 pounds, has won more races and money than any Louisville Handicap entrant. The 8-year-old gelding was a winner of three consecutive graded stakes in Canada last summer for trainer Roger Attfield including the Grade I Northern Dancer, and boasts a career record of 35-10-1-5—$1,038,072 since his debut in August 2008.

Team Block’s Chicago-based Suntracer, a three-time stakes winner conditioned by Chris Block, also will carry 117 pounds while breaking from post six under four-time Louisville Handicap-winning jockey Robby Albarado. The 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy seeks his first win since October 2012 when he took the $100,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne. Overall, the Illinois-bred’s record is 31-6-6-3—$577,087.

Suntracer and Forte Dei Marmi-GB were most recently fourth and seventh, respectively, in the Elkhorn, which, like the Louisville Handicap, was run over 1 ½ miles on grass.

The Louisville Handicap field from the rail out (with jockeys and assigned weight): Forte Dei Marmi-GB (Borel, 117 pounds); War Dancer (Garcia, 118); Moro Tap (Rosie Napravnik, 114); Perfect Timber (Jesus Castanon, 114); Tattenham (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115); Suntracer (Albarado, 117); Formidable Heart (Ricardo Santana Jr., 114); and Star Channel (Corey Lanerie, 115). Formidable Heart will race with blinkers for the first time.