After taking her U.S. debut in the $200,000 Pebbles at Belmont Park, Swettenham Stud’s Lady Lara-IRE will try to keep her stateside unbeaten streak alive in Saturday’s $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old filly by Excellent Art-GB won a handicap race on Sept. 19 at Newbury in England and was shipped to the U.S. shortly thereafter to the barn of Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott.
Mott has teamed up with Australian-based Swettenham Stud on several occasions, campaigning graded stakes winners such as Sand Springs, Angara-GB, Changing Skies-IRE and Dress Rehearsal-IRE.
“We’ve had success together in the past,” Mott said. “They’ll send us over a good filly every now and again that they think might fit in America.”
In the Oct. 13 Pebbles, Lady Lara started the race in ninth place of the 11-horse field and was seventh after six furlongs before moving up to second in the stretch and crossing the wire a half-length in front of Distorted Beauty, another rival entered in Saturday’s Mrs. Revere.
“I was impressed with the way she finished,” Mott said. “She got shuffled a little bit and was pretty far behind but finished very well. She definitely made a huge run to get up and win. Based on that, she looks like a pretty legitimate filly.”
Mott said that she came out of the Pebbles in good order and that he plans to give her some rest after the Mrs. Revere.
“We shipped her down to Churchill shortly thereafter so she could train down there and get ready for this race,” Mott said. “She seems to be doing really well. Sometimes running them back even twice after shipping that far is risky. So with it being pretty much the end of the season anyway, she’ll get a break after this race.”
Jockey Junior Alvarado has the call on Lady Lara, who will break from post position 11 as the 9-2 co-second choice on the morning line in the full field of 14 3-year-old fillies for the Mrs. Revere. Post time for the co-featured ninth of 10 races is 4:36 p.m. ET.
CAPTAIN DIXIE SEEKS UPSET WIN IN COMMONWEALTH TURF
Fresh off an Oct. 25 allowance victory at Keeneland, Randal Family Trust’s Captain Dixie will seek an upset win in Saturday’s $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) beneath the Twin Spires.
Trained by Kellyn Gorder, Captain Dixie finished second beaten four lengths behind Heart to Heart in the Sept. 14 Jefferson Cup (GIII) at Churchill. Captain Dixie was made the 8-1 co-third choice along with Hesinfront, while Heart to Heart received morning-line odds of 8-5 as the favorite for Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile turf event.
Following the runner-up Jefferson Cup performance, Gorder sought an allowance race at Keeneland as a prep event for the Commonwealth Turf but drew on the also-eligible list for that allowance contest, leaving the conditioner frustrated.
“At Keeneland I didn’t even think he was going to get in the field for that last race,” Gorder said. “We were stuck on the also-eligible list and I was pretty upset. We had waited for that race to use it as a prep for the Commonwealth Turf, so I was a little frustrated, but luckily we drew in and were able to win that one.”
After a pair of scratches, the 3-year-old son of Henrythenavigator drew into the field and won the one-mile turf allowance breaking from the 11-post in the 12-horse field. He is in a similar scenario Saturday as he will break from post position 10 out of a 13-horse field.
“I’m hoping he has a similar trip that he did last time,” Gorder said. “He drew the 11-hole for his last race and he’s in the 10-hole here. This field obviously is a lot tougher than the last race but I don’t mind being a little bit outside; hopefully it will keep us out of trouble in the early stages.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. rode Captain Dixie in his last two outings but opted to ride in Maryland stakes engagements on Saturday. Gorder gave the mount to Shaun Bridgmohan, who had the opportunity to get a feel for Captain Dixie on Tuesday, breezing the colt a half-mile in :50.60 on the turf.
“I lost Ricardo,” Gorder said. “He’s going to be riding up at Laurel on Saturday but Shaun is a very suitable replacement. Shaun got a feel for him earlier this week and breezed him an easy half on the turf. I feel good about the spot we’re in. He seems to have improved from his last start and gained a little confidence so hopefully he can run a big one on Saturday.”
With a record of 2-2-1 from seven starts and earnings of $127,553, Captain Dixie will seek his first stakes victory in Saturday’s Commonwealth Turf, the co-featured seventh of 10 races with an approximate post time of 3:37 p.m. ET.
MATZ HAS AN OUTSIDE SHOT AT SATURDAY STAKES DOUBLE
Trainer Michael Matz is seeking a Saturday stakes double beneath the Twin Spires with Ramona S Bass LLC’s A Little Bit Sassy in the $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) and Rosedown Racing’s Bashart in the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII). Both drew the far outside post in their respective fields.
A Little Bit Sassy will break from post 14 and has been given morning line odds of 10-1 for the Mrs. Revere, and Bashart has been made the 6-1 second choice in the Commonwealth Turf, breaking from the 13-hole. Jockey Luis Saez has the call on both Matz entries.
After taking the Edgewood at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, A Little Bit Sassy crossed the wire first in the June 14 Regret (GIII) but was disqualified from first and placed fourth after veering out and impeding a pair of rivals in the stretch.
Most recently the daughter of More Than Ready finished fifth in Belmont’s Sands Point (GII) on Sept. 13 and ninth in her last outing, the Oct. 17 Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland.
“She’s certainly not in an ideal post position,” Matz said. “Her last two starts were on soft turf so I’m hoping it’s a little more firm out there on Saturday. She’s been doing well and hopefully she handles the surface better. It’s a tough field but if she can overcome that post position I think we will be in good shape.”
Bashart was moved into the Matz barn prior to a fourth-place effort in the Sept. 1 Saranac (GIII) at Saratoga and followed that with a runner-up performance in his last outing, Delaware Park’s Kent (GIII) on Sept. 20. Matz anticipates a stalking trip for the 3-year-old son of War Front.
“I hope the stretch is long enough to get in a nice position to stay right off the pace,” Matz said. “He seems to be in good form. Again, it’s obviously not a great post draw but I hope he will have enough speed to stay right off the pace and have a nice trip.”
RECENTLY-RETIRED ROSIE NAPRAVNIK TO BE HONORED SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Recently retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, who made history at Churchill Downs by becoming the first and only female rider in the 140-year history of the track to win the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), will be honored for her career accomplishments in a special ceremony scheduled on Saturday.
Napravnik will be honored in the track’s every day winner’s circle after Saturday’s sixth race, which has been dubbed “The Run for Rosie” in her honor. Post time for the race is scheduled for 3:08 p.m. ET.
The 26-year-old native of Mendham, N.J. made history at Churchill Downs when she piloted Believe You Can to win the 2012 Kentucky Oaks, becoming the first woman to ride a winner of America’s premiere race for 3-year-old fillies. She won the race again this year, piloting Untapable to a commanding victory in its 140th running.
On Oct. 31, Napravnik won the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita with Untapable, then moments later stunned the racing world by announcing that she was pregnant with her first child and would retire from riding after Breeders’ Cup competition on Nov. 1. She is married to Churchill Downs-based trainer Joe Sharp, who opened a public stable earlier this year, and Napravnik said she would be working to help build her husband’s stable until the baby’s arrival neared.
Saturday’s Churchill Downs celebration of Napravnik’s meteoric rise and the impact of her career will include a special 4-K Big Board video presentation of some of her most notable triumphs. Other special recognition for Napravnik and presentation of gifts from the track and others are also scheduled.
INDOOR ENTERTAINMENT FOR FRIDAY’S DOWNS AFTER DARK: SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED
Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester returns to Churchill Downs on Friday night with the special theme being “Shaken, Not Stirred.” – a nod to James Bond films.
Martinis, silhouette dancers, movie villains, live music and more await in an ambiance that exudes class and understated cool at Downs After Dark: Shaken, Not Stirred.
Gentlemen are encouraged to don tuxedos with bow ties or tailored suits for an understated cool. For the ladies, a cocktail or evening dress will help steal the spotlight from your international man of mystery.