Dom Felipe LLC’s Dona Bruja (ARG), winner of the Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (Grade III) on Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course in June, will seek her second stakes triumph over that surface when she breaks from an outside post against 11 rivals in Saturday’s 44th running of the $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (GIII).
The 1 1/8-mile turf test for fillies and mares is scheduled as the 10th event on an 11-race program that opens with the first race at 1 p.m. (all times EST). The Cardinal, which has a post time of 5:24 p.m., shares the Saturday spotlight with the 10th running of the $80,000-added Bet On Sunshine Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs. The Bet on Sunshine will be run as Race 5 with a scheduled post time of 2:55 p.m.
Dona Bruja (14-10-3-0—$446,568) made her United States debut in the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap in June and defeated a contentious field by 1 ½ lengths. Following her Mint Julep victory, the 5-year-old mare, trained by Ignacio Correas IV, recorded a one-length score in the $100,000 Modesty Handicap (GIII) at Arlington Park in July.
The Argentina-bred was favored in August’s $600,000 Beverly D (GI) at Arlington Park but was the runner-up behind dead-heat winners Dacita and Grand Jete. Dona Bruja has only finished off the board in one career start, a fourth-place finish in the Oct. 7 $400,000 First Lady (GI) at Keeneland.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. has the riding assignment for Dona Bruja and will break from post 12 under the high weight of 122 pounds.
Chief among Dona Bruja’s challengers is Rebecca Hillen’s Beauly (GB) (13-3-1-0—$149,937). The 4-year-old filly by Sea The Stars (IRE) was most recently fourth in the $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (GI) on Oct. 8 at Belmont Park. Beauly, trained by Brendan Walsh, drew post seven with leading rider Corey Lanerie and is assigned 118 pounds.
Other major contenders in the Cardinal Handicap are a pair of Ian Wilkes trainees: Whitham Thoroughbreds’ Linda (14-3-4-5—$402,410), the runner-up in the Indiana General Assembly Distaff on July 15; and Deborah Wilson’s Res Ipsa (15-4-1-5—$243,450), a winner of two-consecutive allowance races. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Linda and will break from post nine while Julien Leparoux has the call on Res Ipsa from post 11.
Other notables in the contentious field include Jon Marshall’s $100,000 Violet Stakes (GIII) winner Tricky Escape (13-3-5-3—$247,720) who drew post two with New York-based rider Chris DeCarlo; and Stuart S. Janney III’s Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint fourth-place finisher Fair Point (29-5-8-1—$471,451), who will be ridden by south Florida-based jockey Tyler Gaffalione and break from post 10.
The field for the Cardinal Handicap, from the inside out, with (jockey and assigned weight): Lovely Loyree (Fernando De La Cruz, 116 pounds); Tricky Escape (DeCarlo, 119); Rattataptap (Joe Rocco Jr., 114); La Piba (Jon Court, 115); Weep No More (Robby Albarado, 115); Coco Channel (Julie Burke, 110); Beauly (GB) (Lanerie, 118); B Rockett (Alex Canchari, 114); Linda (Hernandez, 118); Fair Point (Gaffalione, 116); Res Ipsa (Leparoux, 118); and Dona Bruja (ARG) (Santana, 122).
Katherine Ball’s homebred Limousine Liberal, one of the top sprinters in the country, tops a field of eight in the Bet On Sunshine Overnight Stakes.
Limousine Liberal, trained by Ben Colebrook, won a trio of stakes races at Churchill Downs during the Spring Meet that began with a 13-1 upset in the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The 5-year-old gelding by Successful Appeal was the heavy favorite in the June’s $100,000 Aristides Stakes (GIII) and scored a 2 ½-length victory over The Truth Or Else. Limousine Liberal closed out the meet with a 2 ¾-length win in the $70,893 Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes on July 1.
Following his successful Spring Meet, Limousine Liberal tested the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (GI) on July 29 at Saratoga and finished third, beaten eight lengths. In his most recent start, the $250,000 Phoenix (GII) on Oct. 6 at Keeneland, Limousine Liberal was narrowly defeated by Whitmore and Awesome Banner.
Lanerie has the call on Limousine Liberal and drew the outside post No. 8.
Among Limousine Liberal’s rivals are Jer-Mar Stable’s Sir Navigator (13-6-2-1—$161,790), a winner of back-to-back allowance races; Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta’s Uncontested (9-3-0-1—$197,563), the sixth-place finisher in the Phoenix Stakes; and Churchill Downs Racing Club’s Warrior’s Club (17-3-3-3—$294,299), a three-length allowance winner on Sept. 2 at Saratoga.
Other Bet On Sunshine contenders are Harold Learner and Magdalena Racing’s The Truth or Else (33-6-4-7—$634,561), who returns from South Korea where he finished fourth in the $618,000 Korea Sprint (GI) at Seoul Racecourse on Sept. 10; and Pozo de Luna’s Le Ken (ARG) (10-5-3-0—$187,331), who is a multiple Group I winner in Argentina and will make his dirt debut in the United States.
River Ridge Ranch’s Storm Advisory (38-8-5-5—$327,720) and Richard Bahde’s Pinson (22-4-3-3—$190,519) round out the field.
The field for the Bet On Sunshine from the rail out with (jockey and assigned weight): Le Ken (ARG) (Ricardo Santana Jr. 120 pounds); The Truth or Else (Robby Albarado, 120); Sir Navigator (Joe Rocco Jr., 120); Pinson (C.J. McMahon, 120); Storm Advisory (Alex Canchari, 120); Warrior’s Club (Chris Landeros, 120); Uncontested (Channing Hill, 118); and Limousine Liberal (Lanerie, 124).
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs is currently conducting its live racing Fall Meet through Nov. 26. Churchill Downs will conduct the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 5, 2018, and will host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for the ninth time on Nov. 2-3, 2018. Information is available at www.ChurchillDowns.com.