Last November, trainer Jimmy Jerkens invaded Churchill Downs for the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) with Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) runner-up Effinex, and hopes to do the same Saturday night when he sends Saharan to the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes Presented by GE Appliances (listed), a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
Owned by Paul and Phillip Tackett, the daughter of Desert Party is in search of her first stakes win and comes to the race off a two-length allowance victory at Saratoga on Aug. 28 – her first win since breaking her maiden in the slop at Belmont Park in May.
Following her maiden win, Jerkens ran Saharan against stakes company on the Belmont Park lawn in the Soaring Softly and Wild Applause Stakes, both resulting in off-the-board efforts. Saharan’s older half-sister was dual graded stakes winner My Conquestadory, who made her career debut on the grass winning the Summer (GII) at Woodbine as a 2-year-old.
“(My Conquestadory) was a good filly on the turf so we figured that she would do the same,” Jerkens said by phone from his New York base. “But she was also by Artie Schiller so that probably had a lot to do with it. There aren’t many races like this one left, very few up in New York. We feel like this is a good opportunity to get her a big win.”
Jerkens believes that the Dogwood will have a fast pace upfront, which could be in favor of his filly.
“It looks like there’s going to be a pretty good pace up front,” Jerkens said. “We’re just hoping that this race sets up for her. A lot of horses in here have been running at a mile and a mile-and-a-sixteenth so they’ll be cutting back in distance and they might have some edge on us. The last race set up well for her though. She just sat off the pace and went by in mid-stretch and ran really well.”
Saharan breaks from post 6 and will have the riding services of jockey Corey Lanerie.
COX TO CROSS ENTER EMMZY IN REMINGTON PARK OAKS – Dogwood Stakes Presented by GE Appliances morning line favorite Emmzy will be cross-entered in Sunday’s $200,000 Remington Park Oaks, but is likely to stay home and run out of her own stall, according to trainer Brad Cox.
“We’re 60-40 that we’ll probably run here, but we’ll make a final decision later (Thursday) afternoon,” Cox said.
The Dogwood field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Gracie’s Treasure (Jesus Castanon, 10-1); Wonderment (Calvin Borel, 12-1); Marquee Miss (Channing Hill, 12-1); One True Kiss (Ricardo Santana Jr., 4-1); Luna Azteca (Chris Landeros, 12-1); Saharan (Corey Lanerie, 7-2); Mines and Magic (Robby Albarado, 3-1); and Emmzy (Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-2).
Saturday’s Dogwood 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.
ARABIAN HORSE OF THE YEAR PADDYS DAY HEADS PRESIDENT OF UAE CUP – Quarter Moon Ranch LLC’s Arabian racing’s Horse of the Year Paddys Day will attempt to add another big victory to his already-stacked résumé when he takes on a field of nine in Saturday evening’s $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (GI), which is run at 1 1/16 miles and will take place beneath Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires for a fourth time and the first time since 2014.
The ultra-consistent Texas-bred son of Burning Sand boats a lifetime record of 22-15-5-0—$255,323, which includes 10 stakes victories, the most recent of which came two starts ago in the $51,000 Delaware Park Arabian Classic Handicap (GI) on Sept. 10.
“He’s always been true to form,” said trainer Scott Powell, who has trained Arabians for 17 years. “If he’s lost a race it’s probably been my fault more so than his; he’s always proven that. It’s just a matter of keeping him happy and being patient. We’ve been patient with him and have never pushed him just to get a win. We’ve just been keeping him happy and it appears to be working well for us.”
Powell stressed how difficult it can be to keep a horse as consistent as Paddys Day, who has won over nine different surfaces and will race over the Churchill Downs main track for the first time in his career.
“It’s hard to do it and you can’t take it for granted,” Powell said. “We always have a concern going into each race and we never take it for granted. A lot of it is depending on how Paddy likes the track and obviously going into this race, we got (jockey Calvin) Borel on our horse so I’ll take our chances. The team is ready and we’ll give it hell. Whatever doesn’t go right, we’ll make the adjustments and get better for next time.”
Powell also has RB Madymoiselle entered in the President of the UAE Cup, who was second to her stable mate in the Delaware Park Arabian Classic Handicap.
“She’s coming into the race great and maybe she’ll pull off the upset, that would be okay to me,” Powell said.
The President of the UAE Cup field (with jockey and morning line odds): Paddys Day (Calvin Borel, 8-5); CV Lily De Cardonne (Didiel Osorio, 15-1); Chndakasexpress (Declan Cannon, 15-1); Lady Haha (Ricardo Santana Jr., 5-1); Thess Is Awesome (Travis Wales, 8-1); Sand Victor (Corey Lanerie, 2-1); RB Madymoiselle (Keiber Coa, 4-1); F Sixteen (Jesus Castanon, 8-1); and Sergeant Pepper MHF (Carlos Diaz, 20-1).
Post time for Saturday’s President of the UAE Cup, which goes as Race 10 of 11, is 10:42 p.m.
BOREL RETURNS TO WINNER’S CIRCLE FOLLOWING BRIEF RETIREMENT – Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Calvin Borel returned to the saddle following a brief hiatus on Aug. 27 at Ellis Park and nearly one month later rode his first winner aboard 22-1 longshot Playing a Joke in Sunday’s finale at Churchill Downs.
“It’s very exciting,” Borel, 49, said. “It’s just a race but it’s very exciting for me and to win for (trainer) Ron Moquett and the owners (Southern Springs Stables) for giving me the opportunity to come back and ride. I’m very happy to be back. It’s just a matter of getting the timing right and getting fit and everything. I got six seconds since I came back so they’re all running well but once you win a couple you get back in the rhythm.
“You never lose that energy. When you ride for years like I have you don’t forget. It’s like riding a bike. I just love the game; it’s something that you can never take away from me. I went a way for a little while but I really wasn’t ready to retire … I was far from it. I got a real good reception and the trainers have given me great opportunities to ride back. I’m just going to take things day-by-day and go from there.”
Borel credits trainer William “Buff” Bradley for helping him get back into the swing of things.
“We’ve been tight for a long time,” Borel said. “He’s always been good to me and helped me out along the way on the downside and I’m doing very well.”
DOWNS AFTER DARK SET FOR SATURDAY NIGHT; BEN SOLLEE, LINKIN’ BRIDGE TO PERFORM – Bourbon, Bets and Bow Ties is the theme for Saturday night’s Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Woodford Reserve – the final nighttime racing event of the year at Churchill Downs.
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 hit television series America’s Got Talent.
Other event highlights include special bourbon-infused dishes from local food trucks and craft cocktails from the pop-up Plaza Bourbon Bar, and interaction with famous prohibition-era Kentuckians courtesy of the Frazier History Museum.
Trouble with bow ties? Have your bow tie tied for you at the vineyard vines pop-up shop with bow tie tying stations in the Plaza. Guests can bring their own or shop for the latest vineyard vines bow tie designs and purchase one on-site.
Attendees also can get personalized wagering advice at the Wagering 101 tent near the Plaza and enter Bet or No Bet presented by Thorntons for the chance to place a $1,000 win bet on Races 6-9.
Admission gates open at 5 p.m. and the first of 11 races is 6 p.m. General admission is $10 and reserved seat packages start at $25. The final race of the evening is scheduled for 11:10 p.m. but the party continues until midnight.
Party For A Purpose will be held in the Grandstand Area to benefit the Forecastle Foundation. Attendees will be able to enjoy the sounds of local DJ Matt Anthony and internationally acclaimed Red Bull Thre3style World Champion DJ Hedspin, craft cocktails and a dance floor that overlooks the track. VIP Cabanna Access includes a full premium bar at $59 and General Party Access is $15.
Also available is the Original Makers Club Courtyard Lounge, where guests can enjoy the Sport of Kings trackside from the Section 119 Courtyard, live music, regionally-inspired small-plate style fare, beer, wine and Woodford Reserve cocktails. The ticket price is $150 and is limited to 275 guests.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Thursday’s eight-race card is the first of two Twilight Thursdays during the boutique 11-day September Meet. Fans can enjoy Thoroughbred racing and $1 beers after work in the Paddock Plaza on Thursdays, Sept. 22 and Sept. 29. Gates open at 4 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the first race is 5 p.m. on Twilight Thursdays, which feature $1 beer, live music (Josh Kauffman on Sept. 22 and BoogieJuice on Sept. 29), food trucks (Red Top Gourmet Hot Dogs, Holy Mole, Mark’s Feed Store, 502 Café and Pollo), and Betting 101 tips from resident handicappers in Churchill Downs’ Plaza from 5-8 p.m. … The 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot carryover for Thursday is $21,695. The sequence begins in Race 3 (5:58 p.m. ET). … … Churchill Downs Racing Club’s 2-year-old filly Dial Me is entered in Thursday’s seventh race, a first-level allowance over six furlongs. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee is 8-1 on the morning line. … Two-year-old filly Ginza, who is 8-1 on the morning line for her career debut in Thursday’s third race, is a full-sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Stephanie’s Kitten. The $43,000 race is for maiden 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf. She is owned by James Karp and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who needs six wins to reach 700 victories at Churchill Downs. … LNJ Foxwoods’ Freedom, trained by Steve Asmussen, is 7-2 on the morning line for her debut Thursday’s finale. The 2-year-old War Front filly is a half-sister to multiple Grade I-winner Hoppertunity.