Could we have asked for a better way to kick off Derby weekend? Whew! Churchill Downs starts us up with six graded stakes races worth a total of $3 million — all as part of a thirteen-race card!
Adjust your alarm clocks, folks. First Post Time is Friday 10:30 AM ET / 7:30 AM PT.
Let's preview the high-level action to come.
The $400K Alysheba Stakes (G2) — 1 1/16th miles, Dirt, Four-year-olds and Upward. Post Time is 1:26 PM ET.
MAXFIELD heads this field of six competitors with a morning-line odds of 4-5. He'll try to redeem his first and only defeat in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1). He's been given nearly two months off and will break from post six. He's reunited with Jose Ortiz, who piloted him for his first three career victories.
ROADSTER is the second choice from the fifth-hole at 9-2. He's been reunited with trainer Bob Baffert and comes off a decent fourth place finish in the New Orleans Classic (G2), which was his first start in over a year. He'll be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. The 5-year-old horse by QUALITY ROAD turned in a sharp 5F workout on April 24th, going 59.8 as the fifth fastest of 68 works at that distance.
SONNEMAN at 5-1 is also in the mix for trainer Steve Asmussen. He's in the best form of his career, running his fastest speed figures in his last two races albeit in defeat. He's got 1 win and 1 second from 2 total starts at Churchill Downs.
Rounding out the field are: VISITANT, ATTACHMENT RATE, and CHESS CHIEF.
The $300K Edgewood Stakes (G2) — 1 1/16th miles, Turf, Fillies, Three-years-old. Post Time is 2:09 PM ET.
AUNT PEARL for trainer Brad Cox is the heavy morning-line favorite at 4-5. She makes her first start since her score in the Breeer's Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) back in November. Jockey Florent Geroux looks to guide her for her fourth consecutive victory. Note that she broke her maiden over this Churchill Downs turf course.
GIFT LIST is the 7-2 second choice from the Brian Lynch barn. She'll stretch out in distance while seeking her first U.S. victory after finishing second in the Appalachian Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. This marks her second start off a five and a half month layoff, so we can expect her to be sharper here. Javier Castalleno keeps the mount.
ZAAJEL is the third choice at 5-1 for trainer Todd Pletcher. She is reunited with jockey Luis Saez, who guided her to her first two victories. This will mark her first try on grass.
Rounding out the field are: POSTNUP, QUEEN OF THE GREEN, BARISTA, and LINE DANCING.
The $500K La Troienne Stakes (G1) — 1 1/16th miles, Dirt, Fillies and Mares, Four-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 3:03 PM ET.
Last year's Kentucky Oaks heroine, SHEDARESTHEDEVIL, is the 8-5 morning line favorite for this G1 event. She returned to the races stylishly in last month's Azeri Stakes, going on to defeat LETRUSKA, who would then come back and win the Apple Blossom Stakes (G1). SHEDARESTHEDEVIL will be tough to beat if she improves off her last race. She breaks from two-hole and goes for her 7th victory in 13 starts. Note that she has never finishing out of the money except once.
DUNBAR ROAD at 5-2 for trainer Chad Brown will try to give the top favorite a real run for her money. She'll be piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr. as she makes her comeback race since her 3rd place finish in the Breeder's Cup Distaff (G1) last November. Before we think her layoff is a problem, let's remember that she had won after a six-month layoff back in May of 2020, which happened to be over this Churchill Downs surface in question.
FINITE from post seven is pegged at 5-1 for trainer Steve Asmussen. She was last seen two months ago running third to MONOMOY GIRL in the Bayakoa (G3). A major positive for her is that she's undefeated in all three of her starts at Churchill Downs.
Rounding out the field are: ENVOUTANTE, BAJAN GIRL, PARIS LIGHTS, and SANENUS.
The $300K Eight Belles Stakes (G2) — 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies, Three-years-old. Post Time is 4:04 PM ET
DAYOUTOFTHEOFFICE for trainer Timothy Hamm is the 3-1 morning line favorite in this deep field of Fillies. She hasn't run since her second place finish in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) back in November. Prior to that, she strung together three consecutive wins, with one of them being the Frizette Stakes (G1). In preparation for this contest, race, she fired a 5F bullet work in :58 flat on April 23rd, the fastest of 26 works at that distance. She's ready to roll and gets a new rider om Gerardo Corrales.
KALYPSO breaks from the seven-hole for trainer Bob Baffert and is the 5-1 second choice. She makes her first start out of California, but enters with a super-consistent resume: she's hit the board in all seven lifetime starts. Jockey Joel Rosario is in the irons, who piloted her win in the Santa Ynez (G2), which was also at this seven furlong distance in question.
SOUPER SENSATIONAL is 6-1 from the Mark Casse stable. She gets some class relief from her two consecutive bouts with Kentucky Oaks favorites: TRAVEL COLUMN and CLAIRIERE. She cuts back to seven furlongs, where she's had success in while racing at Woodbine. To indicate her readiness, she turned in a sharp 4F workout on April 23 at Churchill Downs, going 47.8 as the 2nd fastest of 108 works at that distance.
Rounding out the field are: MAKE MISCHIEF, CANTATA, EUPHORIC, WINDMILL, SLUMBER PARTY, OBLIGATORY, LI'L TOOTSIE, ABROGATE, CARAMEL SWIRL.
The $250K Turf Sprint Stakes (G2) — 5 1/2 furlongs, Turf, Three-years-old and upward. Post Time is 4:55 PM ET.
FAST BOAT for trainer Joe Sharp is the 7-2 morning line favorite. He comes off a win in the Pulse Power Turf Sprint Stakes over at Sam Houston, and is 2 for 3 over this Churchill Downs turf. He's sharp as a tack — he fired two consecutive bullet works at Churchill Downs. The most recent one being 3F in :34.6 on April 26th, and a week earlier, 5F in :59.2. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride him for the first time.
SOMBEYAY at 4-1 is the West Coast shipper for trainer Peter Miller. He was last seen in the San Simeon Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita, where he lost by a neck to GREGORIAN CHANT in a brave effort. He keeps Flavien Prat aboard while he steps up in company for this event.
FIYA for trainer Thomas Albertrani will break from the three-hole at odds of 4-1. This 4-year-old Gelding has strung together five consecutive wins, and tied his fastest speed figure in his most recent start. He'll have to overcome his four month layoff, but at least he's already proved he can win off of a lengthy freshening.
Rounding out the field are: JOHNNY UNLEASHED, GUIDESMAN, FIYA, CLASSY JOHN, JUST MIGHT, AMBASSADOR LUNA, SMART REMARK, DIAMOND OOPS, and CAROTARI.
The $1,250,000 Kentucky Oaks (G1) — 1 1/8 miles, Dirt, Fillies, Three-years-old. Post Time is 5:51 PM ET.
MALATHAAT for trainer Todd Pletcher is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, to be ridden once again by jockey John Velazquez. The $1-million purchased daughter of CURLIN is a perfect 4-for-4, as she goes for her second G1 win, off a four-month layoff.
TRAVEL COLUMN is one of the second-choices at 3-1 for trainer Brad Cox. She's been squaring off with CLARIERE over her last three starts, winning 2 out of their 3 matchups. She's already a winner over this surface, having captured the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) back in November. In preparation for this event, she delivered a sharp 5F workout on April 23rd, going 1:00.4 as the 5th fastest of 50 works at that distance.
SEARCH RESULTS is the other 3-1 second-choice from the barn of Chad Brown. She comes off a clear-cut win in the Gazelle Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, which is run at this very distance in question. It's impressive that SEARCH RESULTS holds two consecutive triple-digit ESFs — contrasted with TRAVEL COLUMN and MALATHAAT whom neither have any. But CLARIERE, on the other hand, has at least one triple-digit ESF. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aims to guide this filly by Flatter to her fourth consecutive victory.
Rounding out the field are: PAULINE'S PEARL, MARACUJA, CLARIERE, CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, PASS THE CHAMPAGNE, AVA'S GRACE, MORAZ, COACH, WILL'S SECRET, COMPETITIVE SPEED, and MILLEFEUILL.