July 20, 2024

Juveniles take center stage on Churchill Downs’ closing day

Ten City breaks his maiden at Keeneland under Robby Albarado on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 (c) Keeneland/Coady Photography

Friday is the final day of Churchill Downs’ 2017 spring meet, and the 11-race card will be highlighted by three stakes, two of which are for juveniles.

The $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) drew a field of six maiden winners who will all be making their stakes debut in this spot.

Ten City tops the field off a seven-length romp in his racing bow at Keeneland on April 19. The Kenny McPeek trainee earned a 98 BRIS Speed rating for that effort and is first in BRIS Prime Power (134.6) against this bunch. Robby Albarado will be aboard the Run Away and Hide colt, who will be getting Lasix added for the first time.

“I had a chance to watch Ten City (at Keeneland this spring) and he showed talented on day one,” John Nichols, Churchill Downs’ official clocker, said of Ten City. “He was better than his company from the gate up there; he went (four furlongs in) :47 or something from the gate in hand and looked like a freak the way he won that day at Keeneland. He was on the outside and he just drew off. Robby (Albarado) just took him in hand late. He seems like a pretty nice colt, really.”

Copper Bullet is not far behind Ten City, earning a 93 BRIS Speed rating when breaking his maiden by eight lengths under the Twin Spires on May 25. That was the Steve Asmussen-trained bay’s second race following a runner-up effort at Keeneland on April 26. Florent Geroux held the reins both times and returns for this six-furlong affair.

“He actually looks like a three-year-old,” Nichols praised Copper Bullet. “He’s just a big, good-looking, strapping colt. He’s got a lot of size to him. He’s one I think that might kind of like the grass down the line but the way he won his second start here…he cleared that easy and the rider (Florent Geroux) just really never asked him.

“He’s come back and trained well since. He’s been working head-and-head the last three weeks with She’s a Julie, who Asmussen is putting in the Debutante; she’s a nice filly – probably his best at this time of the year right now.”

Hardworkcleanlivin and Mo Diddley both took their maiden debuts, the former at Lone Star Park on May 5 and the latter 13 days later at Churchill Downs. Danny Pish saddles Hardworkcleanlivin while Mo Diddley goes for trainer Mark Casse here. Channing Hill and Corey Lanerie have the respective calls.

“Mo Diddley was kind of workman-like first-time out,” Nichols said. “He broke a step slow first time out in the outside hole which is one place I kind of don’t like to be with two-year-olds because they can break to the daylight. But he broke slow that day and rushed up on them, was wide and kind of grinded it out.

“He’s come back and worked great three times since then. They worked him with Summer Luck on June 2 (half-mile in :47.60) and he held his own with her; she’s a stakes-type filly. On June 11 (bullet five furlongs in :59.40) and June 22 (half-mile in :48), he was heads up with Conquest Typhoon, who is an older stakes horse. The horse seems like he’s coming into the Bashford Manor well.”

Figjam scored a 4 3/4-length maiden score in his second outing at Presque Isle Downs after running seventh at Keeneland in his racing debut. The Wayne Rice pupil gets his third jockey from as many starts when Sophie Doyle is given a leg up on Friday. Rice also sends out I’m Corfu in this spot off a 2 3/4-length maiden victory at Presque Isle Downs in the gelding’s fourth try. Arienne Cox will be aboard.

Friday’s “Downs After Dark” card also showcases two-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes. Thirteen entered the six-furlong contest, including eight who were first-out winners.

Among that group is Sunny Skies, a McPeek-trained daughter of Animal Kingdom who broke her maiden by nine lengths at Keeneland on April 27. Albarado takes the mount on the chestnut lass, who gets Lasix for the first time in this spot.

She’s a Julie captured her career debut under the Twin Spires on May 26 by 5 1/4 lengths for Asmussen. Geroux was aboard that day and stays in the saddle here. Patrona Margarita and Lady O’Toole also got their first wins at Churchill for trainers Bret Calhoun and Brad Cox, respectively. The former gets Chris Landeros back in the irons on Friday while Lady O’Toole keeps Lanerie in the pilot’s seat.

Amberspatriot broke her maiden at Keeneland on April 19 and returned last out to just miss by a neck in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes against both boys and girls. Waki Patriot also brings stakes experience into the Debutante. The chestnut miss finished fourth in the Kentucky Juvenile and enters this spot off a third-placing in the Astoria Stakes. The John Hancock-trained pair will have Paco Lopez and Jon Court aboard, respectively.

The $70,000 Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes is the penultimate race of the spring meet and attracted a full field of 14 to go seven furlongs. Headlining the group is Limousine Liberal, who captured the Aristides Stakes (G3) and Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) in his past pair.

Also of note in the race is The Player, who returns off a near year-long break having last been seen running a close second to Cupid in last July’s Indiana Derby (G2).

Churchill Downs’ closing week is billed as “Sunset Stretch” and features twilight racing on Wednesday and Thursday as well as the “Downs After Dark” Friday card. Wednesday’s eight-race card and Thursday’s nine-race program have first posts of 5 p.m. (ET).

The theme for Downs After Dark is “Downs Does the Decades,” and guests are encouraged to dress to their favorite decade’s attire.