Spice Route (GB), stylish winner of the Elkhorn (Grade II) in his most recent start at Keeneland on April 24, headlines a field of nine entered for Saturday’s 72nd running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (Grade III) to be run at a mile and a half over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The Louisville Handicap goes as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race card that has a first post time of 12:45 p.m. ET.
Owned by Harlequin Ranches, Ralph Johnson and Roger Attfield and trained by Attfield, Spice Route will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and carries high weight of 121 pounds. He breaks from post position eight and will concede 3-8 pounds to his rivals.
A 5-year-old gelded son of King’s Best, Spice Route closed out 2008 with a victory in the tropical Turf Handicap (Grade III) at Calder. He opened 2009 with a troubled third-place finish as the favorite in the Grade II Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21. He was second to Marsh Side in last fall’s Canadian International (GI).
The second high weight at 118 pounds is Fred Bradley’s veteran Brass Hat, who will break from post position seven under Calvin Borel, a two-time winner of the Louisville Handicap. Brass Hat finished third in the Elkhorn behind Spice Route. A Grade I winner on dirt, the 8-year-old Brass Hat has yet to win in seven attempts on turf, but was a troubled fourth to Lattice as the beaten favorite in last year’s running of the Louisville. He dropped far behind a slow pace that day, but lost by just 2 ½ lengths.
Jockey Robby Albarado, who shares the stakes record of four Louisville Handicap victories with Steve Brooks and Larry Melancon, will go for win No. 5 aboard Always First, runner-up in the 2007 race to Drilling for Oil. The Thomas Voss-trained Always First will break from post position five and carry 115 pounds.
The field for the Louisville Handicap, from the hedge out, is as follows: My Happiness (ARG) (Larry Sterling Jr., 113 pounds), Gangbuster (Brian Hernandez Jr., 114), Transduction Gold (Jon Court, 114), Silver Mountain (Jesus Castanon, 113), Always First (GB) (Albarado, 115), Why Tonto (Corey Lanerie, 113), Brass Hat (Borel, 118), Spice Route (GB) (Bridgmohan, 121) and Thabazibi (Julien Leparoux, 113).