Zayat Stables LLC’s Indiana Oaks (Grade II) runner-up Emmzy landed the outside post in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies as she attempts to land her first stakes victory in Saturday night’s 41st running of the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes Presented by GE Appliances (listed) – the featured seven-furlong event at Churchill Downs during a special Downs After Dark nighttime racing program.
The 11-race evening program – the final nighttime card at Churchill Downs this year – also will include a marquee race for purebred Arabians: the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, a Grade I event over 1 ¼ miles for 3-years-old and up.
Emmzy, who was transferred from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to the care of locally-based high-percentage horseman Brad Cox earlier this month, could vie for favoritism in a competitive group of 3-year-old fillies.
The complete Dogwood field from the rail out (with jockeys): Gracie’s Treasure (Jesus Castanon); Wonderment (Calvin Borel); Marquee Miss (Channing Hill); One True Kiss (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Luna Azteca (Chris Landeros); Saharan (Corey Lanerie); Mines and Magic (Robby Albarado); and Emmzy (Brian Hernandez Jr.).
Emmzy (7-2-2-0—$126,861) will cut back in distance after running second to Family Tree in the $203,200 Indiana Oaks (GII) over 1 1/16 miles at Indiana Grand on July 16. The daughter of Eskendereya pressed the pace in the early stages of the Indiana Oaks and made a bid for the lead after six furlongs in 1:14.62. Emmzy and Family Tree broke clear of the field at the top of the stretch, but Family Tree, the winner of the Iowa Oaks (GIII) two weeks earlier, pulled away at the eighth pole and stopped the teletimer in 1:44.46.
Following the race, Emmzy returned to California, but she was shipped to Kentucky in early September and has recorded a pair of workouts for Cox at Churchill Downs.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s One True Kiss (14-2-1-4—$193,140), conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, enters the Dogwood after being seemingly overmatched in a pair of lucrative graded stakes events at Saratoga: the $500,000 Test (GI) on Aug. 6 (fifth beaten 6 ¼ lengths) and $300,000 Prioress (GII) on Sept. 4 (seventh beaten 4 ¼ lengths), respectively. Prior to those efforts, the daughter of Warrior’s Reward was a good third, beaten a neck, in the $150,000 Victory Ride (GIII) on July 9 at Belmont Park.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Mines and Magic (6-2-1-1—$103,806) tried the $301,725 Del Mar Oaks (GI) in her last start on Aug. 20. She finished seventh, beaten 3 ¼ lengths, that day in her turf debut. Previously, the Vicki Oliver trainee rallied for third in the Indiana Oaks after being bottled up behind the leaders until the top of the stretch. She shook loose late and closed to finish 3 ¼ lengths back of runner-up Emmzy.
Paul and Philip Tackett’s homebred Saharan (6-2-0-0—$113,350) will invade from New York in an attempt to land her first stakes victory fresh off a two-length win in a swift first-level allowance at Saratoga on Aug. 28. The daughter of Desert Party is trained by Jimmy Jerkens, who successfully raided the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) at Churchill Downs last fall.
Joe Ragsdale’s Marquee Miss (12-3-0-1—$195,059) and Magdalena Racing and Chris Sterbenz’s Wonderment (9-3-0-2—$199,910) hope to regain the form that saw them win stakes races earlier this year. The Ingrid Mason-trained Marquee Miss won the $100,000 Dixie Belle and $100,000 Martha Washington this winter at Oaklawn Park. Wonderment, a New York-bred campaigned by Kenny McPeek, scored a front-running victory in the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) over the Polytrack at Turfway Park in early April.
Bantry Farms LLC’s Grace’s Treasure (4-2-0-0—$47,500) and Mario Silva’s Luna Azteca (4-3-0-0—$34,678) complete the lineup. Grace’s Treasure, trained by Michael Ewing, won a first-level allowance at Indiana Grand on Aug. 10. The Kelly Von Hemel-trained Luna Azteca invades from Prairie Meadows following a brief freshening after winning a 3 ½-length allowance on July 10.
The Dogwood, won last year by LNJ Foxwood’s Super Majesty in a stakes record 1:23.02, will be run as Race 9 at 10:11 p.m. (all times Eastern) on an 11-race card that begins at 6 p.m.
The race after the Dogwood is the $100,000 President of the UAE Cup (GI), which will be run beneath Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires for a fourth time and the first time since 2014.
The 1 ¼-mile race attracted Quarter Moon Ranch LLC’s Paddys Day (22-15-5-0—$255,323), Arabian racing’s reigning Horse of the Year who was a five-length winner of the $51,000 Delaware Park Arabian Classic Handicap (GI) on Sept. 10, and Cre Run Enterprises LLC’s Thess Is Awesome (16-5-5-1—$132,381), who upset the champ in wire-to-wire fashion in the $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita in April. The latter is trained by Lynn Ashby, who collected her record eighth Darley Award last year as the sport’s champion trainer.
The complete field: Paddys Day (Calvin Borel); CV Lily De Cardonne (Didiel Osorio); Chndakasexpress (Declan Cannon); Lady Haha (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Thess Is Awesome (Travis Wales); Sand Victor (Corey Lanerie); RB Madymoiselle (Keiber Coa); F Sixteen (Jesus Castanon); and Sergeant Pepper MHF (Carlos Diaz).
Post time for the President of the UAE Cup, which goes as Race 10 of 11, is 10:42 p.m.
Presented by Stella Artois and Woodford Reserve, the theme for the lone Downs After Downs event at the 11-date September Meet is “Bourbon, Bets & Bow Ties.” The evening is an opportunity to celebrate the best of the south including bourbon, Thoroughbred racing and fashion. Track officials plan to infuse a contemporary, yet timeless Southern style into everything from food to music and décor.
An outstanding doubleheader of musical entertainment on the Plaza stage will be provided by Kentucky-born cellist and composer Ben Sollee (7:15-9 p.m.) and the incredibly-popular Louisville group Linkin’ Bridge (9:30-10:45 p.m.), who recently was a Top 10 finalist on the television series America’s Got Talent.
Admission gates open Saturday at 5 p.m. and the final race of the evening is scheduled for 11:10 p.m. General admission is $10 and reserved seat packages start at $25, which are available for purchase on www.ChurchillDowns.com.
Saturday’s National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for sunny skies with high near 90.