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Graded Stakes Winners Head Churchill's Closing-Day Locust Grove 'Cap
Three graded stakes winners – Brownie Points, Bayou’s Lassie and Meribel – headline a field of 10 entered Thursday for the 27th running of the $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (Grade III), a one-mile event on the Matt Winn Turf Course for fillies and mares and the centerpiece of Sunday’s closing day card of the 52-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.
The Locust Grove, which will be run at a mile on turf for the first time, will go as the ninth race on Sunday’s 11-race card that begins with a 1:15 p.m. (EDT) first post.
Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points will carry high weight of 120 for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. Winner of the Ouija Board Handicap (GIII) at Lone Star Park in her most recent start, will be ridden by Luis Quinonez and break from post position two. The versatile daughter of Forest Wildcat earlier finished second to Zenyatta in the $500,000 Apple Blossom (GI) on the main track at Oaklawn Park. The homebred Brownie Points has won eight of 22 races – with five wins on turf – and has earned $906,309.
Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou’s Lassie, upset winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day, is the next high weight at 119 pounds. Trained by Dale Romans, Bayou’s Lassie has won six of 11 turf starts will be ridden by Robby Albarado from post position five. Runnymede Farm’s Meribel, now in the barn of trainer Helen Pitts, will carry 118 pounds and be ridden by Calvin Borel as she breaks from post position six. Meribel accounted for the Grade III Valley View Stakes in 2006 over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface and since has placed in graded stakes races on turf.
Mauralakana won the 2007 Locust Grove under Julien Leparoux, who will bid for back-to-back scores in the race when he rides Godolphin Racing’s Say You Will. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the A.P. Indy filly is graded-stakes placed on synthetic surfaces and has won two of three grass starts. She will break from the outside post.
The field for the Locust Grove, from the hedge out, is as follows: James Barry’s Genuine Devotion (Alan Garcia, 115 pounds); Brownie Points (Luis Quinonez, 120); Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and John Sikura’s New Edition (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115); Richard Shultz’s Lemonlime (Willie Martinez, 117); Bayou’s Lassie (Robby Albarado, 119); Meribel (Calvin Borel, 116); Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl (Miguel Mena, 114); Briland Farm’s Grace Happens (Brian Hernandez Jr., 112); Peter Bradley III’s Tears I Cry (Jamie Theriot, 117); and, Say You Will (Julien Leparoux, 115).