The star of Saturday’s spectacular Opening Day program at Churchill Downs is 2018 champion Monomoy Girl. And, while trainer Brad Cox remains optimistic on the return of his superstar, he expressed gratitude for even being able to have a champion mare return to the barn following an 18-month layoff.

“It’s so special to have a champion return to the races when we were faced with much uncertainty with her time on the sidelines,” Cox said. “She’s matured and seems ready to run again. It’s exciting for all of the owners involved with her because they’ve been patient waiting for her return.”

[MEDIA NOTE: A link to download Friday’s media opportunity with Cox, trainer Tom Amoss and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery is available here: https://we.tl/t-OR4gL1suF4]

Monomoy Girl is listed as the 4-5 favorite on veteran oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds as she’s slated to face a field of six rivals including the return of graded stakes winner Talk Veuve to Me for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“We may have had the opportunity to run her at Oaklawn but when the condition book came out for Churchill, this race was perfect,” Cox said. “It’s a solid field on Saturday. I wouldn’t say we are nervous for her return but more excitement because we are all ready to get her back.”

Cox setup shop in his customary Barn 22 at Churchill Downs with a string of about 40 horses with many ready to enter.

“Really not a lot has changed from a training perspective (during the COVID-19 pandemic),” Cox said. “We sort of experienced racing without fans at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn. It’s definitely a different atmosphere but we’re back home and thankful to get racing started at Churchill Downs.”

Cox entered eight horses Opening Weekend at Churchill Downs. For free Brisnet past performances, visit www.churchilldowns.com/racing-handicapping/handicapping/expert-picks.

HORSES CONTINUE TO SHIP INTO CHURCHILL DOWNS; NEARLY 1,000 HORSES ON GROUNDS – The backstretch of Churchill Downs and its training center Trackside Louisville is quickly becoming full with nearly 1,000 horses arriving on the grounds as of Friday morning.

Friday’s training saw 33 horses record published workouts including G M B Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner Lone Sailor who is scheduled to be entered Thursday in an allowance race as a main track only contender, according to trainer Tom Amoss. With James Graham aboard, Lone Sailor worked five furlongs in 1:01.

Another horse donning the Friday worktab was Allied Racing’s multiple Grade III winner Mr. Money, who completed a half-mile move in :47.80 under jockey Gabriel Saez. Mr. Money is nominated to next Saturday’s $100,000 Blame.

Several horses took their first trip beneath the Twin Spires including trainees from the barns of Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and John Sadler.

“This track is really good right now,” exercise rider Peter Mudd said. “The horses are loving being back home.”

On Saturday, training hours switch to 5:30-10 a.m. with two renovation breaks at 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

TRAINERS CONTINUE TO MAKE PLANS FOR NEXT SATURDAY’S STEPHEN FOSTER PREVIEW DAY – Stephen Foster Preview Day on Saturday, May 23 at Churchill Downs is highlighted by five stakes including the $150,000 Matt Winn (Grade III) worth 50-20-10-5 points to the Top 4 finishers on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Other stakes on the card are the $100,000 Blame (4-year-olds and up at one-mile); $100,000 War Chant (3-year-olds at one-mile on turf); $100,000 Tepin (3-year-old fillies at one-mile on turf); and $100,000 Shawnee (fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles).

Here are the early probable entrants, according to Churchill Downs’ assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork (with trainers):

$150,000 Matt Winn (GIII): Crypto Cash (Kenny McPeek); Major Fed (Greg Foley); Max Player (Linda Rice); Maxfield (Brendan Walsh); Necker Island (Stanley Hough); Shake Some Action (Brad Cox).

$100,000 Blame: Alwaysmining (Kelly Rubley); Backyard Heaven (Mike Maker); Bourbon Resolution (Ian Wilkes); Global Campaign (Hough); Long Range Toddy (Dallas Stewart); Mr. Money (Bret Calhoun); Owendale (Cox); Wind of Change (Efren Loza Jr.).

$100,000 Shawnee: Awe Emma (Stewart); Dunbar Road (Chad Brown); Motion Emotion (Richard Baltas).

$100,000 Tepin: Abscond (Eddie Kenneally); Dominga (Cox); Heir of Light (Norm Casse); Jezebel’s Kitten (Cox); Outburst (Kenneally); Pass the Plate (Paul McGee); Queen of God (Maker); Sharing (Graham Motion).

$100,000 War Chant: Fenwick Station (Kenneally); Field Pass (Maker); Hieronymus (Cox); Shared Sense (Cox); Street Ready (Wilkes); Turned Aside (Rice).

BRISNET BETTING GUIDE FOR CHURCHILL DOWNS AVAILABLE IN LOUISVILLE AT AREA VALUEMARKET LOCATIONS – Louisville racing fans excited to follow the upcoming Churchill Downs Spring Meet can still get their hands on wagering information even while the track is off limits to attendees. A special local edition of the Brisnet Betting Guide, with full past performances for Churchill Downs, is on sale for only $5 at all area ValuMarket locations throughout the season.

Louisville-area ValuMarkets are conveniently located at:

•Iroquois Manor, minutes from Churchill Downs, 5301 Mitscher Avenue, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily, (502) 361-9285

Mid City Mall, the heart of Bardstown Road, 1250 Bardstown Road, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily, (502) 459-2221

•Outer Loop Plaza, 7519 Outer Loop, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily, (502) 239-7375

•Mount Washington, 205 Oakbrooke Drive, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily, (502) 538-6629 / (502) 955-9563

ValuMarket is Louisville’s neighborhood grocery store, locally owned and operated since 1978. ValuMarket offers online shopping for pick up or delivery and each store also houses an official United States Post Office that can handle bill payment for services including phone and electric.

The Brisnet Betting Guide is a publication for all levels of horseplayers featuring the best past performances in racing. Each Louisville Edition of the Brisnet Betting Guide includes full-scale past performances for Churchill Downs (and one other major track, when available), Insider Picks & Power Plays with key betting angles and trends, and news from the Brisnet editorial team and the Churchill Downs press office.

The past performances in every edition of the Brisnet Betting Guide offer information not found in other popular handicapping publications, such as highlighted handicapping angles for each horse, par winning speed ratings for each race’s specific conditions, the proprietary Prime Power rating incorporating meaningful data from a horse’s entire career (as opposed to one race), and the Brisnet Speed Rating, favored by some players because it is never manually adjusted based on opinion.

All of the content in the Brisnet Betting Guide and America’s Free PPs print editions can also be acquired à la carte at Brisnet.com, the premiere source for online horse racing data and handicapping information.

CHURCHILL DOWNS TO OFFER FREE BRISNET PAST PERFORMANCES THE ENITRE SPRING MEET – Churchill Downs will offer handicappers free Brisnet past performances each day of the 26-day Spring Meet.

Horseplayers can visit www.churchilldowns.com/racing-handicapping/handicapping/expert-picks for complementary Brisnet past performances along with daily expert selections from Ed DeRosa, Joe Kristufek and Scott Shapiro of TwinSpires.com and several other handicapping tips including workouts of the day from expert clocker Bruno DeJulio.

TWINSPIRES.COM’S SHAPIRO OFFERS OPENING DAY PICK 5 PLAY – The following Pick 5 play is provided by TwinSpires.com handicapper and Churchill Downs simulcast analyst Scott Shapiro. Saturday’s late Pick 5 will span Races 7-11 and begin at 4:08 p.m. ET. Shapiro’s daily selections can be found on www.churchilldowns.com/handicapping.

With full fields, Hall of Fame jockeys, and top barns from all over the country, the 26-day meet in Louisville promises to offer incredible wagering opportunities from start to finish.

Let’s take a look at the late Pick 5 sequence

Race 7: #5 Say Moi makes her second lifetime start after an impressive runner-up performance on debut in late March for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The daughter of Union Rags opened up live on the tote board on Mar. 29 despite the presence of heavily backed Chad Brown first-time starter Center Aisle. She was no match for the winner, but made a great account of herself losing by less than four lengths in the end. The $300,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase has put in a trio of four-furlong drills at Payson Park since her initial try and appears ready to find the winner’s circle in this special weight event over the main track. A single to kick things off.

Race 8: #7 Limnery is listed as the lukewarm 4-1-morning line favorite by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia based on his consistency, but the Brad Cox trainee has disappointed his backers in all five starts over the lawn. He is difficult to trust as the likely chalk.

#6 Labeq intrigues in his first start for Mike Maker. The Three Diamonds Farm gelding has posted an 88 Brisnet Speed rating or better in his three most recent tries on the turf and comes in off a solid series of works at Turfway Park. He is my top choice.

#3 Mind the Gap and #12 Clear for Action should be involved early at big prices in a race where there does not appear to be a ton of early zip signed on. Clear for Action disappointed as the 4-5-favorite versus starter allowance foes in New Orleans when last seen, but should make the lead from his outside draw. Mind the Gap comes in fresh after facing some solid groups as a 3-year-old for Arnaud Delacour. Both are worth including, as is #4 Tankerville in his stateside debut and #5 Danny California, who attracts Joel Rosario.

If the race gets washed off the grass, #17 Dinar looks like a potential single in his first start since late February for Cherie DeVaux. #9 Motagally will also take plenty of support.

Race 9: #2 Adhhar is my top choice in this non-winners-of-two event at 7 furlongs. The son of Daaher showed an affinity for the Churchill Downs main track when he finished second in his only local try in November. After a brief freshening, he progressed nicely in his three starts at Oaklawn Park, including a third-place finish against better in his first try for new trainer Tom Amoss. The Kentucky-bred will cut back to one turn Saturday, and Amoss is a lethal 39% in his second start off the claim over his last 74 starts. Once he figures out his new stock, he knows exactly where to place them. If the pace is honest, Adhhar should have enough late to get the best of this bunch.

If the early pace is not quick enough to set up Adhhar’s late run, #12 Admire is the likeliest to hit the wire first. The Cairo Prince colt draws outside the main speeds and should be ridden aggressively out of the gate by new rider Ricardo Santana Jr. He could thrive at seven-eighths of a mile.

Race 10: #2 Portrait cuts back to a sprint after tiring late in a pair of two-turn events at Fair Grounds to start her 3-year-old campaign. The LNJ Foxwoods filly has worked steadily at Keeneland since losing by a head to Alta’s Award in mid-February and should get an honest pace to run at under Javier Castellano. With a clean voyage, she will be tough to deny.

#8 Four Graces won impressively on debut for a barn that is not known for having their runners cranked on first asking. The half-sister to McCraken and With Dignity regressed significantly in her first try versus winners on Apr. 10, but should bounce back in a big way in her first start in Louisville. The daughter of Majesticperfection should get the jump on Portrait.

Race 11: The finale is one of the most wide-open events on the Opening Day card. I lack a strong opinion so will use several in hopes of closing out a challenging sequence.

Suggested Wager: 5 with 3,4,5,6,12 with 2,12 with 2,8 with 1,3,9,10 = $40

INSIDE CHURCHILL DOWNS RETURNS FRIDAY ON ESPN LOUISVILLE – “Inside Churchill Downs” will make its long-awaited return to the airwaves on Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7.

Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein along with BetAmerica and TwinSpires.com’s Scott Shapiro will host the one-hour program that features interviews and handicapping information with jockeys, trainers and industry experts. Those outside the Louisville area can listen live on www.espnlouisville.com.

ASMUSSEN POISED FOR ALL-TIME TRAINING TITLE; ONLY SEVEN WINS BEHIND ROMANSDale Romans’ all-time leading trainer reign at Churchill Downs could be up for grabs in the Spring Meet as Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen trails by only seven-wins (737-730).

Asmussen has nine entries on Opening Weekend while Romans has three. For a full list of entries visit www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen.

CHURCHILL DOWNS RACING TO AIR ON ‘AMERICA’S DAY AT THE RACES’ ON FS1, FS2 EVERY RACE DAY – Churchill Downs Racing to Air on 'America's Day at the Races' on FS1, FS2 Every Race Day – The racing action from Churchill Downs Racetrack throughout the 2020 Spring Meet will be broadcast on FOX Sports’ “America’s Day at the Races,” which will air every race day on either FS1 or FS2.

Produced by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in partnership with FOX Sports, “America’s Day at the Races” is the acclaimed national telecast presenting coverage and analysis of the best racing from around the country.

A combined 11 hours of national television coverage will be featured on Churchill Downs’ hotly-anticipated opening weekend (all times Eastern):

Saturday, May 16

1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (FS2)

2:30 - 6:00 p.m. (FS1)

6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (FS2)

Sunday, May 17

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. (FS2)

2:00 - 6:00 p.m. (FS1)

6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (FS2)

“America’s Day at the Races” is hosted by Greg Wolf and Laffit Pincay III and this weekend’s broadcast team includes Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, Gary Stevens, and Jonathon Kinchen.

Racing fans are encouraged to wager on racing from Churchill Downs via TwinSpires.com, the official advance-deposit wagering service for Churchill Downs Incorporated and its family of racetracks. TwinSpires.com boasts a new and improved wagering experience and mobile app combining the latest technology with the ability to wager on virtually every quarter, harness and thoroughbred horse race from venues across the globe. The new app provides users with smoother and more intuitive navigation, enhanced live-streaming capabilities allowing players to watch races while searching for their next wager, and all the best bonus offers, free bets, and promotions that TwinSpires.com is known for. TwinSpires.com also offers access to unmatched insight and analysis from our horse racing experts, handicappers, insiders, educators and Bloodstock Research Information Services (Brisnet).

Churchill Downs will offer handicappers free Brisnet past performances each day of the 26-day Spring Meet. Horseplayers can visit www.ChurchillDowns.com for complementary Brisnet past performances along with daily expert selections from Ed DeRosa, Joe Kristufek and Scott Shapiro of TwinSpires.com and several other handicapping tips including workouts of the day from expert clocker Bruno DeJulio.

HOW TO WATCH FS1/FS2

FS1

•Spectrum: Ch. 71 (Spectrum Select, Spectrum Silver and Spectrum Gold packages)

•DirecTV: Ch. 219 (Entertainment, Choice, Xtra, Ultimate and Premier packages)

•DISH: Ch. 150 (America's Top 250, America's Top 200, America's Top 120 Plus and America's Top 120 packages)

•AT&T U-Verse: Ch. 652 (U200, U300 and U450 packages)

•Streaming services: Hulu, Sling (Blue or Orange+Blue) and YouTube TV

FS2

•Spectrum: Ch. 552 (Spectrum Silver and Spectrum Gold packages)

•DirecTV: Ch. 618 (Xtra, Ultimate and Premier packages)

•DISH: Ch. 149 (America's Top 250, America's Top 200 and America's Top 120 Plus packages)

•AT&T U-Verse: Ch. 651 (U200, U300 and U450 packages)

•Streaming services: Hulu and YouTube TV

CHURCHILL DOWNS TO HONOR CLASS OF 2020 WITH A TWIN SPIRES TRIBUTE – Churchill Downs announced today plans to honor the city of Louisville’s Class of 2020 by lighting up the Twin Spires of the historic racetrack. A schedule of colors has been established from Saturday, May 16, through Friday, May 22, that will honor the graduating seniors of each Louisville-area high school.

“Through the years, lighting the Twin Spires has been our unique way of celebrating a special achievement or showing that we care,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been able to join our fellow Kentuckians in lighting the Spires green to communicate our compassion for those who have been impacted by the virus. We also wanted to recognize those who have sacrificed meaningful milestones in their lives this year so we are honoring our graduating seniors and their significant accomplishment the best way we can.”

Churchill Downs’ tribute to the Class of 2020 will begin Saturday, May 16, and coincide with the first day of resumed, spectator-free live racing at the racetrack. The schedule of schools and their designated color is:

Saturday, May 16 (orange) – DeSales, Fern Creek

Sunday, May 17 (green) – North Bullitt, Saint Xavier, South Oldham, Trinity, Western

Monday, May 18 (red) – Atherton, Bullitt East, Butler, duPont Manual, Pleasure Ridge Park, Sacred Heart Academy, Seneca, Waggener

Tuesday, May 19 (blue) – Academy at Shawnee, Bethlehem, Brown, Christian Academy, Collegiate, Eastern, Fairdale, Iroquois, Kentucky Country Day, Mercy Academy, Moore, North Oldham, Oldham County, Presentation, Valley, Highlands Latin, Shelby County, Martha Layne Collins

Wednesday, May 20 (yellow) – Central, Walden

Thursday, May 21 (maroon) – Assumption, Ballard, Bullitt Central, Doss, Holy Cross, Jeffersontown

Friday, May 22 (purple) – Buckner Alternative, Male, Southern

Images of the Twin Spires will be shared each night on Churchill Downs’ social media handles along with a tribute to each school’s graduating class. If you are part of a Louisville-area graduating class that is not listed in the current schedule and would like to be included, please contact Tonya Abeln (tonya.abeln@kyderby.com) with your school’s name, spirit colors and official social media handle.

Brad Cox
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