Trainer Mark Casse’s stakes quartet of Helium, Palazzi, Spanish Loveaffair and Tap It to Win are poised to return to form on Saturday’s Stephen Foster Preview Day at Churchill Downs.
“I think all four of our horses are very live in those races,” Casse’s assistant trainer David Carroll said. “Each one of them fit very well in their respective fields and I think we are setting up for a solid day of racing.”
D J Stable’s Kentucky Derby (GI) 10th-place finisher Helium was installed as the co-second choice at 5-2 in the $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII). Juddmonte’s $300,000 Oaklawn Stakes winner Fulsome also is 5-2. The 2-1 morning line favorite is Bernard Racing, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and Terry Stephens’ Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher O Besos.
“He ran a solid effort in the Derby,” Carroll said of Helium. “I think he will be able to sit a better trip in the Matt Winn from just off the pace and I think he matches up with this field better.”
The 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn, carded as Race 9 at 4:55 p.m. (all times Eastern), shares the Saturday spotlight with the $150,000 Audubon (Race 5), $150,000 Blame (Race 6), $150,000 Shawnee (Race 7), $150,000 Regret (GIII) (Race 8), $150,000 Aristides (Listed) (Race 10), and $110,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes (Race 11). The stellar program gets underway at 12:45 p.m.
The complete field for the Matt Winn (from the rail out with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Ready to Pounce (Brian Hernandez Jr., Neil Pessin, 15-1); Helium (Julien Leparoux, Casse, 5-2); O Besos (Marcelino Pedroza, Greg Foley, 2-1); Southern Passage (Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans, 20-1); Fulsome (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 5-2); Hello Hot Rod (Francisco Arrieta, Caio Caramori, 20-1); Sittin On Go (Joe Talamo, Romans, 8-1); and Game Day Play (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro, 8-1).
One race after the Matt Winn, Live Oak Plantation’s four-time winner Tap It to Win will hope to avenge his 11th-place finish in the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GI) as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the six-furlong Aristides.
“We’ve been working mentally with him a lot following that race,” Carroll said. “I think we’ve got him to a good place after the Churchill Downs. He got stuck in a speed duel that day and it wasn’t the best of trips. I think drawing to the outside of this field should help him sit a better trip.”
The complete field for the Aristides from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Haunt (Gerardo Corrales, Reeve McGaughey, 10-1); Tough Love (Corey Lanerie, Brian Williamson, 10-1); Bango (Marcelino Pedroza, Greg Foley, 4-1); Edgemont Road (Ricardo Santana Jr., Eddie Kenneally, 12-1); Empire of Gold (David Cabrera, Terry Eoff, 7-2); Long Range Toddy (Jon Court, Dallas Stewart, 15-1); Royal Daaher (Drayden Van Dyke, Jimmy DiVito, 10-1); Mojo Man (Francisco Arrieta, DiVito, 10-1); Sir Alfred James (Colby Hernandez, Al Stall Jr., 8-1); and Tap It to Win (Tyler Gaffalione, Casse, 3-1).
Earlier in the card, John Oxley’s two-time winner Palazzi will have to overcome the rail draw in the 1 1/8-mile Audubon Stakes run over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“We are supposed to get some rain Friday so we’ll have to wait and see what the turf condition is like,” Carroll said. “He likes to be to the outside of horses and got into a tough trip in the American Turf (GII). He’ll have to find a trip breaking from the rail but I think can bounce back from that race fairly well. He’s been a very consistent horse since running on the grass.”
The only start Palazzi missed the board on the turf was in the $500,000 American Turf (GII). Arguably his best effort came at the end of January when he got up to win the $200,000 Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston by a nose under Carroll’s son Declan.
The full field for the Audubon from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Palazzi (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse, 7-2); Like the King (Chris Landeros, Wesley Ward, 7-2); Cave Hill (Declan Cannon, Brendan Walsh, 10-1); Hidden Enemy (IRE) (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 4-1); Haddassah (Mitchell Murrill, Kevin Attard, 15-1); Cellist (Julien Leparoux, Rusty Arnold II, 8-1); Holy Vow (David Cabrera, John Ortiz, 10-1); and Royal Prince (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 3-1).
Michael Hernon, Gary Barber and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Spanish Loveaffair will be in search of her first graded stakes glory in the Regret (GIII). Run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, Spanish Loveaffair was made the 5-2 morning line favorite.
“She took a little longer to come out of the (April 3) Appalachian (GII) but we got her back to Churchill and she’s picked things up nicely the last few weeks,” Carroll said. “She’s really flourished the last couple of weeks and I think will be ready for a top effort in this spot.”
The complete field for the Regret from the inside out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Oyster Box (Chris Landeros, Graham Motion, 6-1); Munnyfor Ro (Drayden Van Dyke, Brian Lynch, 12-1); Line Dancing (Julien Leparoux, Michael Matz, 12-1); Spanish Loveaffair (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse, 5-1); Barista (James Graham, Jimmy Baker, 5-1); Postnup (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cherie DeVaux, 12-1); Gam’s Mission (Adam Beschizza, Cherie DeVaux, 5-1); Flown (Ricardo Santana Jr., Brendan Walsh, 9-2); and Saranya (Forent Geroux, Brad Cox, 5-1).
Churchill Downs’ admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and tickets, starting at $5, are available on www.ChurchillDowns.com/tickets. For those outside the Louisville area, all 11 races are scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports 2 from 12:30-6 p.m. Fans can also watch the live simulcast feed and wager on www.TwinSpires.com, the official ADW of Churchill Downs Incorporated.
TWO-TIME STAKES WINNER NIGHT OPS TABBED AS 5-2 CHOICE IN $150,000 BLAME – Steve Landers Racing’s two-time stakes winner and recent runner-up finisher in the $150,000 Ben Ali (Grade III) Night Ops was made the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s second running of the $150,000 Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Brad Cox, Night Ops finished a half-length behind fellow Blame rival Silver Dust in the Ben Ali as the 4-5 post time favorite. Previously, the 5-year-old son of Warrior’s Reward won the $100,000 Cornhusker Handicap (GIII) as a 4-year-old and was victorious in the $350,000 Essex Handicap earlier in his 2020 season.
The 1 1/8-mile Blame is slated as Race 6 with a post time of 3:18 p.m. The race can be used as a prep for the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on the June 26 closing day program at Churchill Downs.
The field for the Blame (from the rail out with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Mighty Heart (James Graham, Josie Carroll, 12-1); Sprawl (Brian Hernandez Jr., Tommy Drury, 3-1); Night Ops (Florent Geroux, Cox, 5-2); Guest Suite (Manny Esquivel, Cipriano Contreras, 12-1); American Dubai (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro, 6-1); South Bend (Tyler Gaffalione, Bill Mott. 6-1); and Silver Dust (Adam Beschizza, Bret Calhoun, 3-1).
MULTIPLE GRADED STAKES WINNER ENVOUTANTE MADE 4-5 MORNING LINE FAVORITE IN $150,000 SHAWNEE – Three Chimneys Farm and Walking L Thoroughbreds’ four-time winner Envoutante was made the heavy 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $150,000 Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Envoutante, a 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo, finished one-length behind top filly Shedaresthedevil in the $500,000 La Troienne (Grade I) on the undercard of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). Trained by Kenny McPeek, Envoutante had a solid 3-year-old campaign with victories in the $100,000 Remington Park Oaks (GIII) and $200,000 Falls City (GII) against elders.
The Shawnee, run at 1 1/16 miles, will go as Race 7 of 11 with a post time of 3:50 p.m. The race can serve as a prep for the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), run on June 26 beneath the Twin Spires. The Fleur de Lis will offer an automatic berth to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
The complete field for the Shawnee from the rail out (with jockey, trainer): Microcap (James Graham, Grant Forster, 30-1); La Renoleta (ARG) (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 8-1); Istan Council (Joe Rocco Jr., Larry Jones, 8-1); Miss Bigly (Martin Garcia, Phil D’Amato, 6-1); High Regard (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver, 15-1); Goodbye Earl (Drayden Van Dyke, Dave Vance, 15-1); Envoutante (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek, 4-5); and Paris Lights (Tyler Gaffalione, Bill Mott, 4-1).
MANDATORY 20-CENT DERBY CITY 6 PAYOUT SLATED FOR SATURDAY – There will be a mandatory payout in the 20-cent Derby City 6 on Saturday at Churchill Downs with all monies distributed to ticket holders with the most winners in the six-race series.
The jackpot carryover was $89,846 at the start of Thursday’s eight-race card, and provided there are no single ticket winners Thursday or Friday, track officials estimate the force-out of Saturday’s total Derby City 6 pool to eclipse $500,000 with new money.
Each race in Saturday’s Derby City 6, which only costs 20 cents per combination, is a stakes race as part of Stephen Foster Preview Day. The sequence will cover Races 6-11 starting at 3:18 p.m. (all times Eastern).
The daily six-race Derby City 6 sequence has challenged bettors to select the winners of six consecutive races but the Jackpot pool only is paid if there is a single winning ticket. When multiple tickets contain six winners 90 percent of that day’s pool is paid out and 10 percent is added to the Jackpot carryover. Again, Saturday’s Derby City 6 pool will be paid to all ticket holders with the most winners in the six-race series.
Takeout on the Derby City 6 is just 15 percent, which is one of the lowest multi-race wager takeout rates in American racing.
Saturday’s sequence features the $150,000 Blame for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles (seven entries); the $150,000 Shawnee for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles (eight entries); the $150,000 Regret (Grade III) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf (nine entries); $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles (eight entries); $150,000 Aristides for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs (10 entries); and $110,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf (nine entries).
Past performances are available at www.Brisnet.com or www.ChurchillDowns.com/Handicapping. Fans can wager on the Derby City 6 at Churchill Downs; www.TwinSpires.com, the official ADW of Churchill Downs Incorporated; other online wagering outlets; and select satellite betting centers throughout North America.
Churchill Downs’ admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and tickets, starting at $5, are available on www.ChurchillDowns.com/tickets. The first of 11 races is 12:45 p.m. and the finale is scheduled for 5:58 p.m.
All 11 races on the Stephen Foster Preview Day card at Churchill Downs are scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports 2 from 12:30-6 p.m. as part of the “America’s Day at the Races” coverage produced by the New York Racing Association.
MEET LEADERS – Jockey Tyler Gaffalione extended his Spring Meet lead over Florent Geroux in the rider standings, 23 wins to 18, respectively. Gaffalione is in search of his fifth riding title beneath the Twin Spires. … Trainers Brad Cox and Mike Maker are tied atop the standings with nine wins. Brendan Walsh was in third with eight victories. … Susan and Jim Hill began the racing week at the top of the owner standings with three wins from 10 starters. There was an 18-way tie for second with two wins.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing continued Thursday at Churchill Downs for Twilight Thursday presented by Blue Moon. The evening featured eight races along with live music from Jossie Gomez, $1 Blue Moon and domestic draft beer and food trucks. There was an $89,846 jackpot carryover in the 20-cent Derby City 6 that spanned Races 3-8. … Juddmonte’s Set Piece (GB) was made the 2-1 favorite for Saturday’s $110,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes. … Godolphin’s Belmont Stakes (GI) likely favorite Essential Quality is scheduled to breeze at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning prior to shipping to Belmont Park for the June 5 race. … “Inside Churchill Downs” will air Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. The one-hour radio program will get fans ready for Saturday’s Stephen Foster Preview Day at Churchill Downs. Those outside the Louisville market can listen live on www.espnlouisville.com. ..,. For more information and to purchase tickets for the Spring Meet, visit www.churchilldowns.com.