G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing LLC’s Grade I winner Personal Diary, Courtlandt Farms’ Cardinal Handicap (Grade III) champ Strike Charmer and trainer Wayne Catalano’s multiple graded stakes-winning duo of Hit The Board Stables’ I’m Already Sexy and James F. Miller and Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ Aurelia’s Belle head a strong and competitive field of 12 fillies and mares entered for Saturday’s 39th running of the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
Scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course, the Old Forester Mint Julep is the featured final live event on a 10-race program at Churchill Downs that shares the spotlight with the simulcast of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner American Pharoah’s bid to win the Belmont Stakes (GI) at New York’s Belmont Park and become the first 3-year-old Thoroughbred to sweep racing’s Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
Post time for the first race at Churchill Downs is 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT) and admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. The post time for the Old Forester Mint Julep is scheduled for 6:17 p.m., while the Belmont Stakes will be available for viewing on Churchill Downs’ Big Board following the day’s final live race. The Belmont Stakes has a scheduled post time of 6:50 p.m.
Personal Diary, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of City Zip trained by Victoria Oliver, won last summer’s Del Mar Oaks (GI) and is the only Grade I winner in the field. She is coming off a disappointing run in the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day in which she ran seventh of 13 behind the victorious Tepin, and is one of six fillies and mares who competed in that race who will run back in the Old Forester Mint Julep.
The Distaff Turf Mile setback was the fourth consecutive loss for Personal Diary, who is winless over the Churchill Downs grass despite strong performances in a late-charging fourth-place run behind Sparkling Review in last fall’s Mrs. Revere (GII) and a runner-up finish in the Regret (GIII). Personal Diary, who has a career record of 14-2-4-3 and earnings of $344,456, is the co-starting high weight at 118 pounds and will be ridden from the outside post by Jon Court.
Strike Charmer has failed to win in three 2015 races for trainer David Carroll after she ended her 2014 campaign with a victory in Churchill Downs’ Cardinal Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on grass. It was the first stakes win for the 5-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, who finished sixth in the Distaff Turf Mile. Strike Charmer has a career record of 3-3-2 and a bankroll of $218,950 and will carry 117 pounds from post six. Chris Landeros, who was aboard Strike Charmer in her Cardinal victory, will be in the saddle.
Either member of Catalano’s formidable duo of Aurelia’s Belle and I’m Already Sexy should be a major contender in the Old Forester Mint Julep with her best effort. Each was assigned of 118 pounds and shares high weight with Personal Diary.
Aurelia’s Belle makes her 2015 debut after a 3-year-old season during which the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid won Churchill Downs’ Regret via disqualification and earned stakes victories on synthetic Polytrack in the Arlington Park Oaks (GIII) and Turfway Park’s Bourbonette Oaks (GIII). She has a career record of 4-1-2 in nine races and has earned $343,567. Aurelia’s Belle will break from post one under Channing Hill and will share high weight of 118 pounds.
The 5-year-old I’m Already Sexy has won eight of 21 races and earned $554,900 and is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile. Her three 2015 starts include a victory in the Cooper City Handicap at Gulfstream Park. She was runner-up to Honey Hues in last year’s Mint Julep and counts a turf allowance at Churchill Downs and Arlington Park’s Pucker Up (GIII) among her eight wins in 21 races. Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride I’m Already Sexy from post three.
Other Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile runners who will make their return to competition in the Old Forester Mint Julep include Maid On a Mission, who ran fifth on Derby Day for owner-trainer Tommy Mills and will break from post eight under Marcelino Pedroza Jr.; Joseph Sutton and Stone Farm’s Kitty Wine, who finished ninth in the Distaff Turf Mile and will start from post nine under jockey Rafael Hernandez; and Carl F. Pollard’s Kiss Moon, who ran 11th of 13 on Derby Day but finished a good third in last fall’s Mrs. Revere.
The field for the Old Forester Mint Julep, from the hedge out (with jockey, weight): Aurelia’s Belle (Hill, 118), Femme Fatale (Luis Quinonez, 114), I’m Already Sexy (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118), Canny Nanny (Joe Rocco Jr., 114), Bitty Kitty (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115), Strike Charmer (Landeros, 117), Kiss Moon (Corey Lanerie, 115), Maid On a Mission (Pedroza, 114), Kitty Wine (Rafael Hernandez, 115), Kepi (Jareth Loveberry, 115), Keening (Jesus Castanon, 114) and Personal Diary (Court, 118).