St. George Stable’s multiple Grade I winner Letruska, widely regarded as the nation’s top filly or mare, headlines a compact field of six in Saturday’s 46th running of the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.
The Fleur de Lis, at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up, is carded as Race 5 at 2:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). The first of 12 races will get underway at 12:45 p.m. The Fleur de Lis is one of seven stakes events on Saturday’s closing day program at Churchill Downs. The other stakes are the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.
The Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the $4 million Longines Distaff (GI) on Nov. 6 at Del Mar. The winner will receive an all entry fees paid berth to the season ending championship event.
Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska scored a front-running victory in the $500,000 Ogden Phipps (GI) earlier this month on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The 5-year-old Super Saver mare has 14 wins from 18 lifetime starts including a victory in the $1 million Apple Blossom (GI) in April where she re-rallied against multiple champion Monomoy Girl.
“She’s in a good condition to run,” Gutierrez said. “This is a very important race. We’re going step by step for now and this is next race we had in mind. I know it’s just 21 days from the (Ogden Phipps). When a horse wants to run and they’re ready to run, we have to let them run. She’s at Keeneland training and we’re looking forward to getting her to Churchill.”
Gutierrez, who was a top trainer in his home country of Mexico, has been primarily training in the U.S. in 2021. Letruska’s only blemish in her 5-year-old campaign was a runner-up effort to Shedaresthedevil in the $350,000 Azeri (GII).
Jose Ortiz has the mount in the Fleur de Lis from post position No. 6.
Among Letruska’s challengers in the Fleur de Lis is Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Grade II winner Envoutante. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Envoutante cruised to a 4 ¼-length victory in last month’s $150,000 Shawnee Stakes, the local prep for the Fleur de Lis on May 29.
Envoutante, a 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo, finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Letruska in the Azeri. Arguably the biggest win in Envoutante’s career was a six-length win in last year’s $200,000 Falls City (GII) at Churchill Downs.
Her regular pilot Brian Hernandez Jr. will be in the saddle from post 4.
Another top filly that entered the Fleur de Lis is Robert and Lawana Low’s $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Match Series (GIII) winner Spice Is Nice. The Curlin filly is a four-time winner for trainer Todd Pletcher. The regally-bred Spice Is Nice is out of Pletcher’s former Grade I-winning mare Dame Dorothy. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the mount from post 5.
Also entered in the Fleur de Lis is Kueber Racing, Barlar LLC, Madaket Stables and Little Red Feather Racing’s recent $200,000 Ruffian (GII) winner Vault. The Brad Cox trainee will attempt to get her first victory at 1 1/8 miles. The seven-time winning mare be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post 3.
The complete field for the Fleur de Lis from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Point of Honor (Javier Castellano, Shug McGaughey); Antoinette (Florent Geroux, Bill Mott); Vault (Gaffalione, Cox); Envoutante (Hernandez, McPeek); Spice Is Nice (Velazquez, Pletcher); Letruska (Ortiz, Gutierrez).