Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma, a two-time graded-stakes winner over the Matt Winn Turf Course and unbeaten in four races on turf and dirt at Churchill Downs, will concede 2-6 pounds to eight rivals in Saturday’s 36th running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (Grade III) for fillies and mares.
The Cardinal, run at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, will be the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race card with an approximate post time of 4:37 p.m. (all times EST). First post time Saturday is 12:40 p.m.
Trained by David Carroll, Acoma will carry top weight of 121 pounds and be ridden by Jesus Castanon. She is unbeaten in two races over the Churchill Downs turf after closing out her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Mrs. Revere (GII) and this spring won the Mint Julep Handicap (GIII). The regally bred daughter of Empire Maker also owns a pair of dirt wins at Churchill Downs that include the 2008 Dogwood Stakes (GIII). Acoma will break from post position three on Saturday.
Sharing second high weight of 119 pounds are Brian Kahn and the Richard O’Neill Trust’s Tizfiz, Hickory Tree Stable’s Leamington and Ron Beegle’s Lemon Chiffon.
Tizfiz, who ran sixth in her most recent start against males over Polytrack in the Fayette (GIII) at Keeneland on Oct. 31, will break from post position two under E.T. Baird. Leamington, fifth in the Grade I Flower Bowl in her most recent start, and Lemon Chiffon, fourth in the Grade I Yellow Ribbon last out, will start from posts eight and nine under Calvin Borel and Jon Court, respectively.
Augustin Stable’s Long Approach, runner-up to Indescribable in last year’s renewal of the Cardinal, returns Saturday in her first start since April. Kent Desormeaux will ride Long Approach, who will carry 116 pounds and break from post position five.
The field for the Cardinal, from the hedge out, is as follows: You Go West Girl (J. Lezcano, 117 pounds), Tizfiz (E. Baird, 119), Acoma (J. Castanon, 121), Zaskar (GB) (S. Bridgmohan, 115), Long Approach (K. Desormeaux, 116), Social Queen (M. Mena, 118), My Baby Baby (R. Albarado, 116), Leamington (C. Borel, 119) and Lemon Chiffon (J. Court, 119).