A rematch of top grass performers Acoma and Keertana, who finished a head apart in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) on June 5, looms in Saturday's 29th running of the $100,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) at a mile on Chuchill Downs' Matt Winn Turf Course, the co-featured event on the next-to-last day of racing in the historic track's 42-day Spring Meet.
The Locust Grove is the ninth race on the 11-race Saturday program with an approximate post time of 4:54 p.m. (all times EDT). First post on Saturday is 12:45 p.m.
Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma will carry top weight of 121 pounds and concede from 1-15 pounds to her 11 rivals in the Locust Grove. Barbara Hunter’s Keertana will carry 120 pounds, the impost she carried when finishing third in the Early Times Mint Julep, a head behind Acoma who carried 122 pounds that day.
The Early Times Mint Julep was the first start of 2010 for Acoma, who counts among her eight career victories graded-stakes scores over the Matt Winn Turf Course in the 2009 Cardinal (GIII) and Early Times Mint Julep as well as a win in the 2008 Mrs. Revere (GII). She rallied to finish second that day to Hot Cha Cha, a setback that was Acoma’s first defeat in six races on turf and traditional dirt at Churchill Downs.
Trained by David Carroll, Acoma will be ridden by Robby Albarado and break from post position four.
Keertana, trained by Tom Proctor, has compiled a record of 3-2-1 in six races over the Matt Winn Turf Course with her biggest victory coming in the 2009 Regret (GIII). Miguel Mena picks up the mount on Keertana, who has won two of three starts in 2010. Keertana will break from post position seven.
The Locust Grove field includes a pair of horses that earned graded stakes winners win on synthetic Polytrack courses: Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Danzon and William Pacella, George Bonomo and Fred Barbara’s C.S. Silk.
Trained by Jim Baker, Danzon won the 2007 Kentucky Cup Distaff (GIII) at Turfway Park and is four times graded- or group-stakes placed in her career. Danzon, who has won two turf starts at a mile during the current meet, will carry 116 pounds and break from post position six under Alex Solis.
Dale Romans trains C.S. Silk, winner of the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie as a 2-year-old in 2008 at Arlington Park. C.S. Silk will carry 115 pounds and break from post position 11 under Francisco Torres.
The field for the Locust Grove Handicap, from the hedge out, is as follows: Winter’s Circle (Oriana Rossi, 106 pounds), Awesome Grannie (Freddie Lenclud, 114), Sweetest Song (Calvin Borel, 113), Acoma (Albarado, 121), Meadow Saffron (Victor Lebron, 116), Danzon (Solis, 116), Keertana (Mena, 120), War Tigress (Corey Lanerie, 113), Happiness Is (Greta Kuntzweiler, 114), Lady’s Laughter (Shaun Bridgmohan, 114), C.S. Silk (Torres, 115) and Go Ask Alex (Jon Court, 109).