Jeff Hiles launched his training career just four years ago but the 41-year-old United States Marine Corp. veteran is poised to record his first stakes victory with 3-year-old filly Shesa Mystery in Saturday’s $275,000 Dogwood (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
Owned by John Gaynor’s Let It Ride Stables, Shesa Mystery enters Saturday’s seven-furlong Dogwood with a lifetime record of 5-2-1-0 with $84,332 in purse earnings. The chestnut filly by Verrazano broke her maiden four starts ago at Indiana Grand by 4 ¾ lengths and returned three weeks later to score a 2 ¾-length first-level allowance victory.
“We’re really excited about her in this spot,” Hiles said. “She’s coming into this race in great shape. (Carribean Caper) is a really nice filly for (trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) but if she can handle the shortened distance I think she’ll run a big effort.”
Shesa Mystery finished second two starts ago in the $225,000 Iowa Oaks (GIII) and enters Saturday’s affair with an enigmatic seventh-place finish in the $100,000 Pucker Up (GIII) over the turf.
Hiles is quietly having a solid year hitting at a 25% win-clip with 13 wins from 53 starters. His purse earnings of $313,761 are higher than his first three years of his training career combined.
Fans may recognize Hiles as the son of veteran Kentucky-based conditioner Rick Hiles. Prior to starting his career in 2018, Hiles served as the Churchill Downs-based assistant to Kenny McPeek.
Shesa Mystery is based at Highpointe Farm and Training Center which is located in La Grange, Ky., about 45 minutes northeast of Churchill Downs.
The Dogwood drew a compact field of seven 3-year-old fillies and was carded as Race 8 with a post time of 4:22 p.m. (all times Eastern). Saturday’s 11-race card features a stakes trio including the inaugural runnings of the $275,000 Bourbon Trail® and $275,000 Harrods Creek, both for 3-year-olds. First post is 12:45 p.m.
The complete Dogwood field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Coppelia (Martin Garcia, Phil Bauer, 15-1); Carribean Caper (Colby Hernandez, Stall, even-money); Li’l Tootsie (James Graham, Tom Amoss, 3-1); Malloy (Joe Talamo, Wayne Catalano, 10-1); Shesa Mystery (Miguel Mena, Hiles, 10-1); Patty H (Julien Leparoux, Mike Miceli, 7-2); and Someone Said So (Adam Beschizza, Coty Rosin, 15-1).
GUTIERREZ SPECIAL GUEST ON FRIDAY’S ‘INSIDE CHURCHILL DOWNS’ – Jockey Reylu Gutierrez, who recorded his first victory at Churchill Downs in Saturday’s $300,000 Pocahontas (Grade III), will be the special guest Friday on “Inside Churchill Downs.”
The one-hour horse racing program will air at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7 and be streamed online at www.espnlouisville.com. Gutierrez is scheduled to join hosts Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein at 6:15 p.m.
Gutierrez began his young career at Finger Lakes in 2017 following his graduation from SUNY Cortland earlier in the year. Prior to Friday’s racing at Churchill Downs, Gutierrez has recorded 356 wins from 2,809 starts with purse earnings of $12,995,904.
CHURCHILL DOWNS JOINS FORCES WITH NYRA, PARX FOR SATURDAY CROSS-COUNTRY PICK 5 – Churchill Downs will partner with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and Parx for an all-stakes cross-country Pick 5 Saturday.
The 50-cent based wager is hosted by NYRA and has a mandatory payout.
The bet begins at 4:44 p.m. (all times Eastern) and includes the $275,000 Harrods Creek from Churchill Downs along with the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (GI), $1 million Cotillion (GI) and $300,000 Gallant Bob (GII) from Parx and the $200,000 Athenia (GIII) from Belmont Park.
Wagering is available on www.TwinSpires.com and ADW’s throughout the country. Past performances can be found on Brisnet.com.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY’S HALF-SISTER FAMED SCHEDULED TO MAKE DEBUT SUNDAY – Godolphin’s 2-year-old homebred filly Famed, a half-sister to multiple Grade I-winning colt Essential Quality, is scheduled to make her career debut in Race 8 Sunday, a six-furlong maiden special weight contest at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Brad Cox, Famed is stabled a few stalls away from her accomplished half-brother Essential Quality. The daughter of Uncle Mo drew post No. 7 for her debut and will be ridden by Florent Geroux. She’s scheduled to face eight rivals as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
SUNDAY IS FAMILY ADVENTURE DAY – Sunday is Family Adventure Day presented by Kroger. Families are encouraged to bring the kids to Churchill Downs for a day of racing and family activities including inflatables, a petting zoo, stick horse races, face painting and more. Special happenings include a Churchill Charlie walk-around meet and greet, United States Tennis Association (USTA) tennis workshop; interaction with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Mobile Science Activity Center; exploring the game of golf with First Tee; and learning about FBI Louisville safety programs.
Tickets for adults and children age 3 and up are $10 when purchased online in advance at www.ChurchillDowns.com, and include unlimited access to all kid-friendly activities through 5 p.m. Churchill Downs is also offering a Family Four Pack that includes four Family Adventure Day reserved seat tickets: $36 (first-floor reserved) or $44 (third-floor reserved).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing continued Friday at Churchill Downs with a first post of 12:45 p.m. The 10-race program featured a $43,207 carryover in the 20-cent Derby City 6 that spanned Races 5-10. … Nominations to the $160,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes close Friday. To nominate, contact Assistant Racing Secretary and Stakes Coordinator Dan Bork at (502) 636-3806. … Fans who are unable to make it to Churchill Downs for the races can download and watch all the action on the Churchill Downs LIVE app. The Churchill Downs LIVE app is available free of charge on Amazon, Apple TV and Roku and features full access to the HD live stream of the Churchill Downs simulcast signal and three additional angles including the Saddling Paddock. ,,, For more information about racing this week at Churchill Downs and to purchase tickets, visit www.churchilldowns.com/tickets.