Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick’s reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will try to regain her winning ways on Saturday when she faces four rivals as an overwhelming favorite in the 36th running of $200,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.
The Fleur de Lis, 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares ages 3 & up, serves as Saturday’s secondary feature to the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI). One of five graded stakes on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Alumni/Stephen Foster program, the Fleur de Lis will be run as the sixth race at 3:26 p.m. (all times EDT) on the 11-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m.
The other Saturday stakes feature 3-year-olds: the 13th running of the $125,000 Northern Dancer (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, the 41st running of the $125,000-added Regret (GIII) for fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course and the 35th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Jackson made it official Wednesday morning when he released a statement in which he announced that Rachel Alexandra would make the Fleur de Lis the third start of 2010 campaign.
“Rachel Alexandra continues to turn in strong works,” Jackson said in the statement. “As long as she continues to progress, we intend to race her with the expectation she will obtain her fitness level of last year or better. Our ultimate goal and hope is to enter the Breeders’ Cup (at Churchill Downs) in November.”
Regular rider Calvin Borel, who won last year’s Fleur De Lis on Miss Isella, will be aboard Rachel Alexandra, the odds-on 2-5 favorite in Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds. Rachel Alexandra, who drew post position four, will carry high weight of 124 pounds and concede 7-11 pounds to her rivals.
After compiling a perfect, eight-for-eight campaign in 2009 en route to Horse of the Year honors, Rachel Alexandra has run second twice in her two 2010 starts. She started the year with a three-quarter length loss to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds on March 13 and then was beaten a head by Unrivaled Belle in Churchill Downs’ La Troienne (GII) on April 30.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Rachel Alexandra defeated males on three occasions in 2009, closing out that campaign with a triumph over older males in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has compiled a 3-3-0 record in seven races at Churchill Downs highlighted by her record-smashing 20 ¼-length victory in the 2009 running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Second high weight in the Fleur de Lis is L-Bo Racing and Michael Lamb’s Made for Magic, who will carry 117 pounds and be ridden by Omar Berrio. In her most recent start, Made for Magic won the Milady Handicap (GII) at Hollywood Park for trainer A.C. Avila.
Made for Magic will break from post position two and is a 10-1 risk in Battaglia’s morning line.
The second choice in the Fleur De Lis is Farnsworth Stable LLC’s Jessica Is Back, runner-up in the Sixty Sails (GIII) at Hawthorne in her most recent start for Calder Race Course-based trainer Martin Wolfson. Garrett Gomez will ride the 4-1 shot whose three 2010 starts also include a victory in the $75,000 Ocala and a runner-up finish to Sweet Repent in the Sunshine Millions Distaff, both at Gulfstream Park.
The field for the Fleur de Lis Handicap, from the rail out (with jockey, weight, morning line odds), is as follows: Multipass (Jose Lezcano, 113 pounds, 15-1), Made for Magic (Omar Berrio, 117, 10-1), Distinctive Dixie (Robby Albarado, 114, 12-1), Rachel Alexandra (Borel, 124, 2-5) and Jessica Is Back (Garrett Gomez, 116, 14-1).
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The Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Crider, runner-up in the Lone Star Derby (GIII) to fourth-place Belmont Stakes (GI) finisher Game On Dude in his most recent start on May 8, heads the field for the Northern Dancer that goes as the eighth race Saturday with an approximate post time of 4:29 p.m.
Crider is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has saddled the Northern Dancer winner twice: Compendium in 2001 and Pyro in 2008. Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Pyro to victory in this race, has the call Saturday on Crider, who will break from post position two and carry 116 pounds under conditions of the race.
Donegal Racing’s Vow to Wager, winner via disqualification of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in February, will carry top weight of 120 pounds and be ridden by Miguel Mena for trainer Dale Romans. Fourth in his most start in the Matt Winn on May 15, Vow to Wager will break from post position five.
The field for the Northern Dancer, from the rail out, is as follows: Worldly (Robby Albarado, 116 pounds), Crider (Bridgmohan, 116), Spoon River Lew (Jamie Theriot, 116), Colizeo (Garrett Gomez, 116), Vow to Wager (Mena, 120), Prince Will I Am (Calvin Borel, 116) and Max Silverhammer (Francisco Torres, 118).
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Lewis Lakin’s Dynazaper, winner of the Edgewood on April 29 at Churchill Downs in her most recent start, heads a field of 13 for the Regret that goes as Saturday’s ninth race with an approximate 4:59 p.m. post time.
Trained by Bill Mott, who has saddled the Regret winner a record three times, Dynazaper will be ridden by Robby Albarado and break from post position 10.
Also coming off a stakes victory is Gary Chervenell’s Joharmony, winner of the Hilltop Stakes on May 14 at Pimlico. Trained by Leigh Delacour, Joharmony will be ridden by Javier Castellano and breaks from post position four.
Three runners that finished behind Blind Luck in this year’s 136th renewal of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) are in the Regret field: Beautician (fourth), It’s Tea Time (ninth) and Jody Slew (13th). Also in the field is Snow Top Mountain, a half-sister to 2009 Regret winner Keertana.
The field for the Regret, from the hedge out, is as follows: Go Ask Alex (Jon Court, 116 pounds), La Gran Bailadora (Eibar Coa, 116), Caminadora (Corey Nakatani, 116), Joharmony (Castellano, 118), Queen of the Creek (Jose Lezcano, 116), Jody Slew (Miguel Mena, 118), Ambitioness (Jamie Theriot, 116), It’s Tea Time (Garrett Gomez, 116), Queen Hazel (Brian Hernandez Jr., 116), Dynazaper (Albarado, 116), Beautician (Alex Solis, 116), Snow Top Mountain (Freddie Lenclud, 116) and Laura Babe (Calvin Borel, 116).
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Joseph Riccelli’s Asphalt and Michael Bruder’s Guys Reward, the 2-3 finishers in the American Turf (GII) run here April 30, head a field of nine for the Jefferson Cup that goes as the seventh race with an approximate post time of 3:57 p.m.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Asphalt ran third in the Hallandale Beach and fourth in the Palm Beach (GIII) this winter at Gulfstream Park prior to his American Turf effort. Asphalt, who will be ridden by Jose Lezcano on Saturday, will break from post position three.
Trained by Dale Romans, Guys Reward was a fast-closing third in the Transylvania (GIII) at Keeneland prior to the American Turf. Guys Reward will break from post position four under jockey Robby Albarado.
Romans has a second starter in the race in Bruder and Frank L. Jones Jr.’s Lost Aptitude, winner of the Grand Canyon overnight stake here last fall. Garrett Gomez has the call on Lost Aptitude, who will break from post position seven and carry top weight of 119 pounds.
The field for the Jefferson Cup, from the hedge out, is as follows: Formulaforsuccess (Corey Nakatani, 117 pounds), Gleam of Hope (E.T. Baird, 117), Asphalt (Lezcano, 117), Guys Reward (Albarado, 117), Scottkeith’skitten (Jon Court, 117), Don’t Tell Kitten (Florent Geroux, 117), Lost Aptitude (Gomez, 119), Our Douglas (Alex Solis, 117) and Psychic Income (Corey Lanerie, 117).
KENTUCKY DERBY LEGENDS OF THE 1970S TO SHINE ON ALUMNI DAY – Saturday is Kentucky Derby Alumni Day at Churchill Downs, saluting connections of some of the stars from the 1970s.
There will be a commemorative print giveaway sponsored by GE that will be distributed to the first 5,000 guests through the gates that open at 11 a.m. (EDT). From 1-3 p.m. in the Paddock Pavilion, connections of some of the Kentucky Derby winners from the 1970s will be on hand signing the print.
Connections on hand for the autograph session will be:
- 1970 – Dust Commander: Trainer Don Combs and jockey Mike Manganello.
- 1972-73 – Riva Ridge and Secretariat: Owner Penny Chenery and jockey Ron Turcotte.
- 1974 and 1976 -- Cannonade and Bold Forbes: Jockey Angel Cordero Jr.
- 1975 – Foolish Pleasure: Jockey Jacinto Vasquez.
- 1977 – Seattle Slew: Trainer Billy Turner and jockey Jean Cruguet.
- 1978 – Affirmed: Owners Patrice Wolfson and Steve Wolfson Sr. and jockey Steve Cauthen.
ASHER TO SPECIAL “GET IN THE GAME” TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE -- John Asher will host a special edition Saturday of the “Get in the Game” seminar in which he will talk to the winning connections and discuss their historic journey through their Triple Crown victories and Kentucky Derby wins in the 1970s.
“Get in the Game” will be located in the paddock starting at 11:45 a.m. and will be featured on all in-house monitors.
Fans also will be able to save up to 50 percent on discounted products from the Official “Art of the Kentucky Derby” Collection from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.
JOCKEY TRADING CARD GIVEAWAY, AUTOGRAPH SESSION SLATED SUNDAY -- The first 2,500 guests to arrive on Sunday, June 13 will receive a free set of jockey trading cards. Gates will open at 11 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday with the trading cards being distributed at Gates 1, 10, and 17.
The cards feature a mixture of current and Hall of Fame jockeys not limited to Churchill Downs’ current jockey colony. Churchill Downs jockeys will be available for an autograph session in the Paddock Pavilion from 11 a.m. to noon.
OFFICIAL LIMITED EDITION RON TURCOTTE BOBBLEHEAD SALES SET SUNDAY -- Official limited edition Ron Turcotte bobbleheads will be on sale between the Churchill Downs store and Gate 17 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 13.
Turcotte, who won the Triple Crown aboard Secretariat in 1973, will be on site to autograph and sell his limited edition bobbleheads.
Only 1,973 of these bobbleheads were manufactured with 500 being available for purchase at $50 each. A portion of the funds raised from the sale will be donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.