John P. Ryan’s Vuitton will seek to become the first repeat winner of the $100,000-added Open Mind at Churchill Downs on Saturday (Sept. 13) when she faces a field of six other fillies and mares, including stakes winners Aireofdistinction and graded stakes-placed Flower Spell.
The six-furlong Open Mind will go as the ninth of 10 races on Saturday with an approximate post time of 4:55 p.m. ET.
Vuitton, who rallied from last to take the last year’s Open Mind for Gillian Campbell, Ralph and Shelly Stayer and Andrew Pajak while under the care of trainer Steve Asmussen, was sold to Ryan at the conclusion of her 2013 campaign and transferred to trainer Eddie Kenneally. Her best effort in four starts this year was a second-place finish in an optional claiming race at Churchill on May 9. Most recently, she finished sixth of seven in her last effort, the $100,000 Lady Canterbury over a sloppy track on July 14. Vuitton worked a half-mile on Aug. 20 over the Churchill Downs dirt in :47.80, which was the fastest of 26 workers at the distance that day. Overall, the 5-year-old daughter of Smart Strike has won six of 20 starts and earned $358,110.
Aireofdistinction, who gives owner Gillian Campbell a chance at a repeat, enters the Open Mind off of a third-place effort behind Sweet Cassiopeia and Rusticana in the $100,000 West Virginia Secretary of State on Aug. 2. The 4-year-old daughter of Songandaprayer took the $100,000 Spring Fever at Oaklawn earlier this year as the lone stakes victory of her career. The Asmussen trainee has won four of 13 starts with earnings of $190,472.
Ingrid Mason, Lou Ferruzza, George D. Ditola and Little Bear Racing Stables’ Flower Spell invades from her Arlington Park base fresh off a forwardly-placed win in the $40,000 Hoist Her Flag at Canterbury Park under regular rider Rosemary Homeister Jr. Prior to that effort, she placed second in the $150,000 Chicago Handicap (Grade III) behind runaway winner My Option. Trained by co-owner Mason, Flower Spell has won seven of 20 starts with $226,252 in earnings.
The Open Mind also features Hoist Her Flag runner-up Janis’s Joy, who was cross-entered against males in Friday night’s $40,000 H.B.P.A. Sprint at Canterbury Park, a six-furlong sprint restricted to 3-year-olds and up that haven’t won a stakes race; Jeffrey D. Thornbury’s Rusticana, who as 80-1 when second last out in the West Virginia Secretary of State; William S. Farish’s Interest Free, who finished fifth in the Gardenia Handicap (GIII) in her last start for veteran trainer Neil Howard; and Autry Lowry Jr.’s Afternoon Tango, who was supplemented for $3,000 after a swift 1 ¼-length win in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 2 for trainer Tim Ice.
The field for the sixth running of the Open Mind from the rail out (with jockeys, trainers): Janis’s Joy (Leandro Goncalves, Eric Heitzmann); Rusticana (Marcelino Pedroza, Thornbury); Flower Spell (Homeister Jr., Mason); Interest Free (Brian Hernandez Jr., Howard); Vuitton (Miguel Mena, Kenneally); Aireofdistinction (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen); and Afternoon Tango (Victor Lebron, Ice).
Saturday’s race salutes the late Eugene Klein’s Hall of Fame filly Open Mind, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained winner of the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs who returned to the Louisville track the following spring to win the Kentucky Oaks. The New Jersey-bred filly was an Eclipse Award champion at ages two and three.
Guests in attendance on Saturday can gather with a multitude of other University of Louisville fans to watch the 2-0 Cardinals take to the gridiron in Virginia against the Cavaliers, while simultaneously enjoying the thrills of live racing. Churchill Downs will add bleacher seating to its Plaza with the U of L game shown uninterrupted on the giant 16’ x 20’ Plaza video screen. During the game, Churchill Downs will be serving cold Bud and Bud Light for $2, Stella Artois for $3, and a selection of traditional tailgate foods from the Plaza grill. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., the Louisville game starts at 12:30 p.m. and the first race is 12:45 p.m. Admission is free to college students with a current student ID. Paid general admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.