Graded stakes winners I’m Already Sexy, Nellie Cashman and Tapicat headline an ultra-competitive and full field of 14 three-year-old fillies that were entered to contest Saturday night’s 23rd running of the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.
The Mrs. Revere, which honors the highly-competitive filly owned by Drs. Hiram Polk and David Richardson who won four stakes races at Churchill Downs in 1984-85, is one of two graded stakes on a special 10-race “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” program. The first race is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Mrs. Revere will go as Race 9 at 8:36 p.m. in prime time under the lights.
The Mrs. Revere, a 1 1/16-mile test over the Matt Winn Turf Course, has annually attracted a large field. At least 10 fillies have left the Mrs. Revere starting gate in all but one running of the race. The lone exception was a seven-horse field in 2005. If all 14 run as expected, it will equal the 2009 record for the most number of Mrs. Revere starters.
Horses based in Kentucky (Allegheny Angel, Emotional Kitten, Frivolous, I’m Already Sexy, Keening, Praia, Quality Kitten and Remember Then), New York (Effie Trinket and Tapicat), Maryland (Nellie Cashman and Zero Game-IRE), Florida (E B Ryder) and Canada (Dance Again) have flocked to Louisville to challenge one of North America’s most important grass races for 3-year-old fillies.
Sycamore Racing’s Nellie Cashman, the upset winner of this summer’s $150,000 Virginia Oaks (GIII) and unlucky loser of the $200,000 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (GII), could be the headline grabber.
The daughter of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft has crossed the finish line first or second in each of her five starts since moving to route turf races in May. After breaking her maiden by 5¼ lengths against Pennsylvania-breds, Nellie Cashman scored a 19-1 shocker in the 1 1/8-mile Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs in July. She closed fastest of all in her next start at Saratoga in August but was disqualified from a 20-1 victory in the 1 1/8-mile Lake Placid for drifting out into a rival in deep stretch.
“She had always trained well over the dirt, but with the added distance and a switch to turf, we’ve really seen her blossom this year,” trainer Francis “Tres” Abbott III said. “She’s been such a consistent filly in these stakes races she’s run in.”
Last month, Nellie Cashman finished second, a length back of Overheard, in the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (GIII) over 1 1/16 miles on Keeneland’s turf course – just six days after missing her intended engagement.
“We missed the (Grade I, $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Oct. 12) at Keeneland after she spiked a little temperature and missed a day of training,” Abbott said “To ship down there and run against Grade I company you have to be on your A-game.”
Abbott plans to train Nellie Cashman at her Fair Hill Fair Hill Training Center base in Cecil County, Maryland on Thursday morning before boarding a van bound for Louisville. She’s scheduled to jog Friday at Churchill Downs and gallop on the morning of the race.
“She’s really doing well right now,” Abbott said. “You always want to see them come out of their races and bounce back. This is such a difficult time of year for fillies because when the cold weather comes in you have to look at them day-to-day and week-to-week to make sure there coats are coming in and showing you that they still want to be competitive. We picked this race out but she really had to show us that she was going to bounce back (after the Valley View) and be her old self again.
“It’s a big and competitive field. There are some new fillies that we haven’t run against and some fillies that we have run against. It’s also a group of fillies that seem to have different sorts of running styles so it’ll be interesting to see how it sets up. I really think it could be won by any of the 14 fillies.”
Nellie Cashman (10-2-4-2—$190,770) will break from post eight under regular Maryland-based rider Forest Boyce.
The wide-open cast also includes Hit The Board Stables’ I’m Already Sexy, winner of the $175,000 Pucker Up (GIII) at Arlington Park and sixth in the QE II for trainer Wayne Catalano; Besilu Stables’ Florida Oaks (GIII) winner Tapicat, who has the Hall of Fame team of jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bill Mott; and Patty Symons’ versatile New York-bred Effie Trinket, who has amassed $432,150 in her two-year career for trainer Rick Violette Jr. to lead all entrants in money-won.
Additional stakes winners in the field are Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s $100,000 Hilltop champ Emotional Kitten, who second to Emollient in the $350,750 American Oaks (GI) and third in the $301,250 Del Mar Oaks (GI) before a seventh-place effort in the QE II for trainer Wesley Ward; Sam-Son Farm’s homebred Dance Again, who won the $144,900 Carotene for trainer Malcolm Pierce on Oct. 12 against fellow Canadian-breds at Woodbine; and Miller Racing LLC’s E B Ryder, who won last month’s $63,800 Frances A. Genter at Calder for trainer Marty Wolfson.
The Mrs. Revere field from the rail out: Emotional Kitten (Victor Espinoza), Quality Kitten (Norberto Arroyo Jr.), Zero Game-IRE (Sheldon Russell), I’m Already Sexy (Florent Geroux), Effie Trinket (Shaun Bridgmohan), Keening (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Allegheny Angel (Joe Rocco Jr.), Nellie Cashman (Boyce), Remember Then (Julien Leparoux), Frivolous (Jon Court), Praia (Alan Garcia), Dance Again (Patrick Husbands), Tapicat (Smith), E B Ryder (Corey Lanerie).
In addition to the Mrs. Revere, Saturday’s 10-race program includes the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile turf test for 3-year-olds that will go as Race 7 at 7:32 p.m.
Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” event is the only nighttime racing extravaganza scheduled for Churchill Downs’ 25-day Fall Meet. “My Fall Derby Style” is the theme, and all guests are encouraged to dress in their finest Derby-inspired fall attire and participate in a fashion contest to win two reserved seats to Kentucky Derby 140, an opportunity to walk the Red Carpet on Derby Day, and vineyard vines apparel.
There also will be a performance by Louisville’s rising country music star Olivia Henken, who was a Top 20 finalist on Season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice,” in the new “Club 140,” an indoor night tracing hotspot on the second floor of the Clubhouse. Attendees also will get an insider’s look into what to expect for Kentucky Derby 140.