Preston Madden’s Winning Colors (Grade III) victor Miss Kentucky is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line for Saturday’s $75,000-added Roxelana Overnight Stakes as the 4-year-old filly attempts three straight wins for trainer Rusty Arnold II.
“She’s been in great form this year,” Arnold’s Churchill Downs-based assistant Jack Bohannan said. “I think it’s the right spot for her and she’s been training well into the race. The post should work perfectly for her. In her last race she sat just off the early pace but she has some tactical speed. Breaking from the far outside Brian (Hernandez Jr.) should be able to see what the horses are doing to her inside and make a decision where to put her in the race.”
The six-furlong Roxelana, named for the crack female sprinter who won seven of 11 starts and earned $264,726 between 2000-03 for trainer William “Blackie” Huffman, is carded as Race 10 of 11 on Saturday’s program with a scheduled post time of 5:26 p.m. (all times Eastern). The first race Saturday is 12:45 p.m.
Miss Kentucky won the $100,000 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs on May 26 by three-quarters of a length while battling on the lead for most of the race to hold off a late charge from Treble. The daughter of Blame has been consistent in her four-race 2018 campaign with three victories and only one defeat – a sixth-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland.
Kirk and Judy Robinson’s multiple graded stakes winner Vertical Oak was made the 2-1 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs veteran odds maker Mike Battaglia. The daughter of Giant Oak, trained by Steve Asmussen is scheduled to make her third start of the year following a 1 ½-length win in the May 18 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico.
The field for the Roxelana from the rail out: Mythical Tale (ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, trained by Brad Cox, 122 pounds, 5-1 morning line odds); Golden Domer (Corey Lanerie, Brendan Walsh, 122, 8-1); Vertical Oak (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 122, 2-1); Julerette (Julien Leparoux, Ben Colebrook, 122, 15-1); Annathela (Jack Gilligan, Arnold, 122, 12-1); Astrollinthepark (Florent Geroux, Larry Jones, 122, 3-1); Miss Kentucky (Hernandez, Arnold, 124, 5-2).
Churchill Downs admission gates will open Saturday at 11:30 a.m. General Admission is $3, reserved seating is $10 and reserved dining packages are $39. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.
ROMANS EYES SUMMER CLASSICS FOR IMPROVING KING ZACHARY – Following King Zachary’s upset 4 ¾-length victory in the June 16 $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs, trainer Dale Romans is eyeing some of the top 3-year-old stakes races for the colt’s next start. The July 28 Jim Dandy (GII) at Saratoga and July 29 Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park are among the premier races under consideration.
“We’re looking at either the Jim Dandy or Haskell for his next start,” Romans said. “We’ll keep our options open for either spot and see what the field looks like. This horse was really impressive last weekend in the Matt Winn. He’s only going to get better as time goes on.”
Owned by Louisville-based attorney Tom Conway, King Zachary broke his maiden in his third start on March 18 at Gulfstream Park. Romans attempted to qualify the colt to the Kentucky Derby in the April 7 Wood Memorial (GII) but was unsuccessful following a sixth-place effort.
“This horse deserved a try to qualify for the Derby but he just wasn’t ready,” Romans said. “We regrouped and got him some confidence in an allowance race on Kentucky Derby Day, which gave him some more seasoning for the Matt Winn.
“It’s so special to be able to have a horse like this for Mr. Conway. He deserves this so much. He’s worked for almost 50 years as an attorney and he’s one of the best in the state.”
Another late-developing 3-year-old trained by Romans is Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s undefeated Mr Freeze, who won an allowance race by a half-length on June 2 at Churchill Downs. The son of To Honor and Serve is pointing to the July 6 Iowa Derby (GIII), according to Romans.
“This horse is the real deal,” Romans said. “He was a little late to come along but is proving to be a really nice horse. We’ll look at the Iowa Derby for his next start.”
MEET LEADERS – With seven days of racing remaining in the 2018 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs, Brian Hernandez Jr.’s lead in the jockey standings was down to one win, 36-35, over perennial leading rider Corey Lanerie. Florent Geroux was third with 28 wins while Julien Leparoux and Ricardo Santana Jr. were tied for fourth with 21 victories. … In the trainer standings, Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen had a 22-17 win advantage over Brad Cox. Eddie Kenneally was third with 16 wins, Kenny McPeek held fourth with 14 victories and Ian Wilkes rounded out the Top 5 with 13 wins. … Ken and Sarah Ramsey are seeking their record-extending 31st win in the owner standings and had a 6-4 lead over Gary and Mary West and Whitham Thoroughbreds.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Churchill Downs will have a four-day week of racing (with first race post time, number of races): Thursday (5 p.m., 8 races), Friday (12:45 p.m., 9 races), Saturday (12:45 p.m., 11 races) and Sunday (12:45 p.m., 10 races). … The Twilight Thursday abbreviated eight-race program is highlighted by $1 draft beers, live music on the Plaza stages by band Bendigo Fletcher, food trucks and lawn games. There is a $13,982 carryover in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot which begins in Race 3 at approximately 5:58 p.m. and a $4,078 carryover in the $1 Super Hi-5 in Race 8 at approximately 8:23 p.m. … The hosts of “Inside Churchill Downs” – Churchill Downs Racetrack’s John Asher, Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein – will preview the final week of racing for the 2018 Spring Meet on their 6-7 p.m. show that airs every Friday on ESPN 680/105.7. Those outside the Louisville area can listen live online at http://www.espnlouisville.com/ or download a podcast of the show after its completion. … Sunday is Family Adventure Day presented by Kroger. In partnership with the Louisville Sports Commission, this Family Adventure Day encourages kids to seek out healthy, active outdoor activities and embrace local parks, forests and other public lands. There are more than 20 activities children under 12 can enjoy. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.churchilldowns.com/tickets.