Katherine Ball’s 4-year-old homebred Limousine Liberal will attempt to land his first career stakes win when he tackles six rivals, including defending champ Alsvid, in Saturday’s 28th running of the $100,000 Aristides (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
A competitive field of seven 3-year-olds and up were entered Wednesday for Saturday’s six-furlong sprint. The Aristides, named in honor of the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875, is one of two stakes events on Saturday’s 11-race program. Churchill Downs’ first race is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). The Aristides goes as Race 10 at approximately 5:21 p.m. and the inaugural $67,000-added Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes, a five-furlong sprint on the Matt Winn Turf Course, is the ninth race at approximately 4:51 p.m.
Limousine Liberal, trained by Lexington-based Ben Colebrook, has run fast against top competition but has yet to win a stakes event. A winner of three races and $254,220 in seven starts, the gelded son of Successful Appeal was second in last summer’s $500,000 King’s Bishop (GI) at Saratoga – won by 2015 champion sprinter Runhappy – and $300,000 Gallant Bob (GIII) at Parx before finishing 11th of 14 in the $1.375 million TwinSpires.com Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Keeneland.
Limousine Liberal’s 4-year-old debut at Keeneland on April 9 was magnificent as he set a clear pace and drew off in the stretch under a hand ride to score a 4 ½-length victory in 1:15.05, which was a 6 ½-furlong track record.
Four weeks later, Limousine Liberal set the pace in the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day – a swift :22.24 for the first quarter mile and :44.64 for the half – but faltered late down the lane and finished four lengths back of winner Catalina Red in sixth.
Three of Limousine Liberal’s Aristides rivals are stakes winners: nine-time stakes champ and millionaire Alsvid (41-13-11-7—$1,172,618); three-time stakes hero Barbados (13-4-3-1—$369,720), winner of last year’s Spectacular Bid and Hutcheson (GIII) at Gulfstream Park for trainer Mike Tomlinson; and the Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old Toews On Ice (8-4-1-2—$307,700), who won his fourth stakes event when capturing the William Walker on Opening Night of the Spring Meet.
Alsvid, who beat 2014 champion sprinter Work All Week by two lengths to win last year’s Aristides in 1:09.34 for James Rogers’ Black Hawk Stable and trainer Chris Hartman, returns to dirt after finishing second to Rocket Heat in the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Alsvid is seeking his first victory since winning the Aristides. He has four seconds and four thirds in an 11-race winless stretch.
The complete Aristides field from the rail out (with jockeys): Toews On Ice (Channing Hill), Barbados (Joe Rocco Jr.), Limousine Liberal (Corey Lanerie), Union Jackson (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Alsvid (Chris Landeros), Grande Basin (Miguel Mena) and Schivarelli (Robby Albarado). Toews On Ice will carry 118 pounds, while all others tote 120.
Stonestreet Stables’ immaculately-bred 4-year-old Union Jackson will test stakes-company for the first time after winning four of his first six starts for trainer Steve Asmussen, including a 4 ½-length romp in a conditioned allowance-optional claiming event at Keeneland on April 15.
Union Jackson’s sire Curlin was the 2007-08 Horse of the Year and winner of the 2008 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs. His dam Hot Dixie Chick broke her maiden at Churchill Downs by 5 ¾ lengths in 2009 before winning three consecutive stakes races, led by the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga.
The Eddie Kenneally-trained Schivarelli is scheduled for his first start in 306 days. Unraced since Aug. 3, the 5-year-old Florida-bred was runner-up to Viva Majorca in last June’s $67,750 Kelly’s Landing at Churchill Downs.
Grande Basin was supplemented to the race for $3,000 at the time of entry. The 4-year-old Louisiana-bred won three consecutive races at Fair Grounds this winter but was never a threat in a Keeneland allowance-optional claiming event in his first start for trainer Dallas Stewart.
A pair of $600,000-earners, nine-time Ohio-bred stakes winner Rivers Run Deep (26-12-7-3—$686,200) and five-time stakes winner Hogy (33-14-6-4—$687,412), are among 11 older horses entered in a deep first running of the Mighty Beau. The field (with jockeys): Rivers Run Deep (Albin Jimenez); Ray’swarrior (Landeros); Billy Two Hats (Jesus Castanon); Wilbo (Santana); Latent Revenge (Francisco Torres); Bucchero (Marcelino Pedroza Jr.); Made Bail (Jack Gilligan); Tiger Tank (Lanerie); Shadow Rock (Mena); Hogy (Rocco); and Bottle Rocket (Brian Hernandez Jr.).
Churchill Downs admission gates will open Saturday at 11:30 a.m. General Admission is $3, reserved seating is $10 and reserved dining packages are $38. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.