The lime and black racing colors of one of the first families of Churchill Downs’ racing community will be prominent Saturday at the Louisville track when Richard and Bertram Klein’s Miz Ida bids for a second consecutive victory in the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep (Grade III), the featured live racing event on a program that also celebrates the bid by Kentucky Derby (GI) winner California Chrome to become racing’s first Triple Crown champion in 36 years when he competes in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI), the final jewel of the crown at New York’s Belmont Park.
Trained by Steve Margolis, Miz Ida will face seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares ages three-years-old and up. The Early Times Mint Julep is scheduled as the eighth of 10 live races on the Churchill Downs program, which begins with the first race at 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT). The simulcast of the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 6:52 p.m.
Fans visiting Churchill Downs for the live racing program have the opportunity to share in a historic moment should California Chrome make the Belmont Stakes his eighth consecutive victory as they view the action on Churchill Downs’ new Big Board. All of Churchill Downs’ live races and the Belmont Stakes and many of Belmont Park’s star-studded roster of major stakes events on the day will be shown on the state-of-the-art 4K Big Board. Churchill Downs’ Jill Byrne will offer analysis of the Churchill Downs races and those Belmont Park stakes events throughout the afternoon and early evening.
The 38th running of the Early Times Mint Julep will be just the second start of 2014 for Miz Ida, who finished seventh of nine in the $300,000-added Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day. That race was the first for the 5-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen since her runner-up finish to Abaco in November’s Cardinal Handicap (GIII) on the Churchill Downs grass.
Miz Ida will break from post five under jockey Corey Lanerie, the first jockey other than Shaun Bridgmohan to climb into the saddle aboard the Klein family homebred in more than three years. Lanerie was aboard Miz Ida for a sixth-place finish over a sloppy track in an off-the-turf Churchill Downs allowance race on Nov. 27, 2011. Since then Bridgmohan had been in the saddle aboard Miz Ida for 14 consecutive races, but will miss the Early Times Mint Julep to ride West Point Thoroughbreds’ Commanding Curve in the Belmont Stakes.
Margolis’ mare is the top money-earner in the Early Times Mint Julep field with a bankroll of $478,786. She has a record of 7-3-0 in 17 races, with all but her 2011 race under Lanerie being turf outings.
Miz Ida will carry 117 pounds in the Early Times Mint Julep and shares high weight with Hit the Board Stables’ I’m Already Sexy, who finished sixth behind Coffee Clique in the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile. The Wayne Catalano-trained daughter of Ready’s Image won the Pucker Up (GIII) and Hatoof Stakes over the Arlington Park turf and has taken five of her 12 career races and earned $241,610.
Miguel Mena will ride I’m Already Sexy from post three.
Other fillies and mares of interest in the Early Times Mint Julep include LTB Inc. and Miles Childers’ Honey Hues, who has won a pair of turf races at Churchill Downs but finished ninth after setting the pace in the Keertana, an overnight stakes won by Praia on May 17. The 5-year-old Henny Hughes mare has won eight of 19 races and will be ridden from post one by Jesus Castanon.
John Duvielh, Stephen Landry and Earl and Keith Hernandez’s Hot Tempo makes her Churchill Downs debut in the Early Times Mint Julep off a narrow victory in the $60,000 Matron Stakes at Louisiana’s Evangeline Downs. It was the first stakes triumph for the daughter of Heatseeker-IRE, who has a career turf record of 5-2-0 in 11 races. Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride Hot Tempo in the Early Times Mint Julep.
Morton Fink’s homebred Enchanting Lisa, a half-sister to two-time Horse of the Year and six-time Eclipse Award winner Wise Dan and multiple stakes winner Successful Dan, will make her stakes debut in Saturday’s race. Trainer by Charlie LoPresti, Enchanting Lisa has won only one of her five career races, but she has never finished worse than fourth in four attempts on turf and was beaten by a head by Keertana winner Praia in a one-mile allowance race in October at Keeneland.
The Early Times Mint Julep will be the second start of 2014 for Enchanting Lisa, who will be ridden from post seven by Julien Leparoux.
The field for the Early Times Mint Julep, from the hedge out (with jockey, weight): Honey Hues (Castanon, 114), Tapit’s World (Joe Rocco Jr., 112), I’m Already Sexy (Mena, 117), Hot Tempo (114, Hernandez Jr.), Miz Ida (Lanerie, 117), Embarr (Dylan Davis, 115), Enchanting Lisa (Leparoux, 111) and Maid On a Mission (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., 114).