Bradley Thoroughbreds, Whispering Oaks Farm, Team Hanley, Madaket Stables and Tim and Anna Cambron’s La Troienne (Grade I) winner She’s a Julie will clash with Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s two-time Grade I-winning mare Elate in Saturday’s 44th running of the $250,000 Fleur de Lis Presented by Budweiser (GI) at Churchill Downs.
For the fifth year in a row, the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event, which means the winner will be guaranteed a berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) on Nov. 2.
The Fleur de Lis – which means “Flower of the Lily” and honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s Flag – will be run as Race 7 at 9:12 p.m. (all times Eastern). It will be televised live on NBCSN from 8:30-10 p.m.
She’s a Julie, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, won her first Grade I in the La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. The classy filly by Elusive Quality has only one off-the-board finish in her last eight starts – a fourth-place effort in the Zia Park Oaks in November.
“I was so proud of her effort in the La Troienne,” Asmussen said. “It was a lot of fun winning that race with such a special filly to our barn and named after my wife.”
She’s a Julie (13-6-2-1—$878,130) will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. from post No. 2.
Chief among the competition to She’s a Julie in the Fleur de Lis will be five-time winner Elate. The 5-year-old mare by Medaglia d’Oro most recently finished third in the Apple Blossom (GI) and second in the Azeri (GII) at Oaklawn Park. Elate had a spectacular 3-year-old campaign with victories in the Alabama (GI) and Beldame (GI). Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Elate began her 4-year-old campaign with a 3 ¼-length score in the 1 ¼-mile Delaware Handicap (GII) and finished a neck behind Abel Tasman in the Personal Ensign (GI) before missing the remainder of 2018 with a minor injury to her left foreleg.
“She’s a horse that wants every bit of 1 1/8 miles,” Mott said. “Part of the reason why we wanted to run in the (Fleur de Lis) was because of the distance. I think she loves 1 1/8 miles and even up to 1 ¼ miles.”
Elate will break from post 3 under Jose Ortiz.
Also entered is Merriebelle Stable’s 2018 Fleur de Lis hero Blue Prize (ARG) (18-7-7-2—$1,112,753). Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, Blue Prize returned for her 6-year-old campaign with a third-place finish La Troienne following a fourth-place effort in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs. Blue Prize won last year’s Fleur de Lis by 1 ½ lengths to give her an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Javier Castellano has the call on Blue Prize from post 5.
The Fleur de Lis field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Skeptic (Brian Hernandez Jr., Rusty Arnold, 10-1); She’s a Julie (Santana, Asmussen, 2-1); Elate (Ortiz, Mott, 8-5); Go Google Yourself (Gabriel Saez, Paul McGee, 12-1); Blue Prize (ARG) (Castellano, Correas, 2-1); Auspicious Babe (Florent Geroux, Dallas Stewart, 15-1).
All horses will tote 120 pounds except She’s a Julie who will carry 124 lbs.