Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s 5-year-old homebred mare Untapable, the winner of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) in 2014 en route to being crowned that year’s Champion 3-Year-Old Filly, looks to regain her top form as the 7-5 morning line favorite in a field of six fillies and mares that were entered for Saturday’s 41st running of the Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs.
For the second year in a row, the 1 1/8-mile Fleur De Lis is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event, which means the winner will be guaranteed a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
The Fleur de Lis – which means “Flower of the Lily” and honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s flag – will be run as Race 6 at 8:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Untapable, the 120-pound Fleur de Lis high weight who boasts a career record of 19-9-5-2—$3,916,725, is a four-time Grade I-winner but hasn’t reached the winner’s circle in six starts since landing last year’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park. In two starts as the favorite at the Hot Springs, Ark. track this winter, Untapable was beaten a neck by Call Pat in the $350,000 Azeri (GII) and finished fourth in a defense of her Apple Blossom title.
A return for a race at her Churchill Downs home base, where she is perfect in three starts with stakes wins in the 2013 Pocahontas (GII) and 2014 Kentucky Oaks (GI), is appealing to Untapable’s trainer Steve Asmussen.
That was why we wanted to run her back here in Saturday’s race,” Asmussen said. “It has been too long since we’ve won with her and I think we just need to take our best shot at winning and I think the significance of it being a ‘Win And You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff adds to it.”
Also expected to draw support is Stoneway Farm’s Ahh Chocolate. Trained by Neil Howard, the improving 4-year-old filly won Pimlico’s $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (GIII) on May 20. In three starts over the Churchill Downs main track, Ahh Chocolate has never been worse than second with a four-length allowance victory on Sept. 19 and a 1 ½-length triumph in the Falls City Handicap (GII) on Thanksgiving Day. Her lone defeat at Churchill came in the Chilukki (GII) where she was second beaten 4 ½ lengths behind Spelling Again.
The Fleur de Lis Handicap field from the rail out (with jockeys, assigned weights and morning line odds): Untapable (Florent Geroux, 120 pounds, 7-5); Engaginglee (Robby Albarado, 116, 6-1); Paid Up Subscriber (Ricardo Santana Jr., 114, 8-1); Ahh Chocolate (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118, 2-1); Big Book (Corey Lanerie, 115, 8-1); and Brooklynsway (Julien Leparoux, 117, 5-1).
California-based Big Book was supplemented to the race by owner/breeder George Krikorian and trainer Tim Yakteen for $6,000.