Churchill Downs finally gets underway for their spring meeting on Saturday with 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Monomoy Girl the headliner on the 11-race card.
The spring meeting was delayed by three weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Kentucky Derby (G1) pushed back until Sept, 5.
Churchill Downs will run from Thursday through Sunday until closing day on June 27.
The Brad Cox trained Monomoy Girl leads a field of seven fillies and mares going in the fourth race, a $80,000 optional claimer with a purse of $85,000.
“It’s been a long time coming but we are thrilled for (Monomoy Girl) to return to the races,” Cox said. “She’s been working great down at Keeneland since late March and we’re looking forward to this first step back.”
She has been on the sidelines since her win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs in November of 2018. She had a bout with colic and also suffered from a minor hamstring pull.
She has won nine of her 11 career starts with a pair of runner up finishes. She has won three of her four starts over the Churchill Downs main track. Florent Geroux is her regular rider and they will break from the two post as the 4-5 morning line favorite.
She faces several talented runners including the Steve Asmussen trained Talk Veuve to Me, who makes her first start since a seventh-place finish in the TCA (G2) at Keeneland last October. She ran second in the 2018 Acorn (G1) and won the Indiana Oaks (G3).
The mare has Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons and will break from the six post and is 7-2 on the morning line.
Lady Kate is also 7-2 on the morning line. The Eddie Kenneally trainee was fifth in the Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream Park in her most recent outing. Jose Ortiz has the call and will break from the seven post.
With racing shuttered in New York, the jockey colony at this meeting will be deep. Among those committed to ride include Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Joel Rosario, John Velazquez., Tyler Gaffalione, Ricardo Santana Jr, Joe Talamo, Rafael Bejarano and defending title holder Corey Lanerie.
Steve Asmussen won the training title last spring and will have plenty of competition including strings from Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher to contend with this year.
Churchill Downs Stakes Schedule
The stakes schedule throughout the meet features 16 stakes totaling $2,250,000:
Saturday, May 23: Grade III, $150,000 Matt Winn (3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles); $100,000 Blame (4-year-olds and up at one mile); $100,000 Shawnee (fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles); $100,000 War Chant (3-year-olds at one mile on turf); and $100,000 Tepin (3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf).
Saturday, May 30: Grade III, $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf) and Grade III, $100,000 Winning Colors (fillies and mares at six furlongs).
Saturday, June 6: $100,000 Aristides (Listed) (4-year-olds and up at six furlongs) and Grade III, $100,000 Dogwood (3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs).
Saturday, June 13: Grade III, $100,000 Louisville (4-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on turf).
Saturday, June 20: Grade II, $200,000 Wise Dan (4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf) and $100,000 Audubon (3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf).
Saturday, June 27: Grade II, $500,000 Stephen Foster (4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles); Grade II, $200,000 Fleur de Lis (fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles); Grade III, $100,000 Regret (3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf); and Grade III, $100,000 Bashford Manor (2-year-olds at six furlongs).