A rallying fourth in the October 7 First Lady (G1) at Keeneland, Dona Bruja brings a class edge to Saturday’s $100,000 Cardinal H. (G3) at Churchill Downs. The Group 1-winning Argentinean import captured her North American debut over the course, rolling to an impressive 1 ½-length tally in June’s Mint Julep (G3), and gave an excellent account of herself when recording a half-length second in the Beverly D (G1) at Arlington two starts previously.
Post position is the biggest concern as Dona Bruja will square off against 11 rivals from the far outside gate in the 1 1/8-mile turf test. The Ignacio Correas trainee has been installed as the 8-5 favorite on the morning line and Ricardo Santana Jr. will pick up the mount on the 5-year-old mare.
Linda is listed as the 9-2 second choice. The gray filly recorded a nice 2 ½-length tally in last year’s Mrs. Revere (G2) under the Twin Spires but did not go forward off it, dropping all six starts this year. The Ian Wilkes-trained 4-year-old will try to rebound from a third as the odds-on favorite in an October 13 allowance at Keeneland and regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. will be up.
Beauly, who finished one spot back of Linda when fourth in the Ladies Turf (G3) two starts ago, exits a decent fourth in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park and the English-bred daughter of Sea the Stars will add leading rider Corey Lanerie. Brendan Walsh trains the 4-year-old chestnut and Beauly is an early 5-1.
The trio of Fair Point, Res Ipsa and Tricky Escape come next at 8-1 on the morning line.
Fair Point enjoyed a fine season in 2016, recording four victories and three seconds from seven attempts, but the Grade 3 heroine is winless from six starts this year. She’ll try to turn things around for Shug McGaughey and Tyler Gaffalione takes over the reins.
Res Ipsa is unproven at the stakes level but steps back up in top form for Wilkes, posting allowance triumphs at Keeneland and Kentucky Downs in her last two outings. Julien Leparoux sticks with improving 4-year-old.
Tricky Escape registered a 107 BRIS Late Pace number posting a nice score in the Violet (G3) at Monmouth Park three starts back and the 4-year-old filly followed with a runner-up effort in the Ramsey Farm Stakes to Kitten’s Roar, who subsequently finished second in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine and easily captured the Goldikova (G2) at Del Mar on the Breeders’ Cup Saturday undercard. Tricky Escape is well drawn in post 2 and Chris DeCarlo has the call for Lynn Ashby.
Earlier on the program, Grade 2 winner Limousine Liberal tops a field of eight in the $80,000 Bet on Sunshine at 7-furlongs. Last seen finishing a neck third in the October 6 Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland, the 5-year-old gelding notched three consecutive stakes wins under the Twin Spires during the spring/summer meet and his 144.7 BRIS Prime Power number towers over rivals. Lanerie rides for Ben Colebrook.
Limousine Liberal’s main rivals include Le Ken, The Truth or Else and Uncontested.