July 18, 2024

Wilbo seeks graded breakthrough in Aristides

Wilbo aims for his first graded score in the Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

With no Limousine Liberal or Whitmore standing in his way, Wilbo has a strong chance of breaking through at the graded level for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs, a six-furlong dash named in honor of the first Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

Second to Limousine Liberal in last year’s Aristides, Wilbo futilely chased Whitmore in both the Hot Springs and Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) in his two most recent starts at Oaklawn. With those rivals aiming for stakes in New York next week, Wilbo is a prime threat to improve his mark over Churchill’s main track to five wins in seven starts.

There figures to be plenty of pace to set up Wilbo’s rally. Smart Spree, who breaks from post 1, set the pace in the Count Fleet Sprint before weakening to fourth, his only loss in four starts at the Oaklawn meet. Chief Cicatriz, a two-time winner of the Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise, shortens up a furlong after running fifth in the Churchill Downs (G2) to Limousine Liberal.

Mr. Crow, who ran below expectations in his first two stakes attempts for Todd Pletcher last fall, returns to this level following a two-length allowance win May 1 for new trainer Ben Colebrook.

The supporting feature is the $75,000 Might Beau for older horses at five furlongs on the turf. Multiple graded winner Hogy figures to be a solid favorite over Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) runner-up Kid Perfect and the globetrotting veteran Long On Value, last seen running third to World Approval in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last September.

Morticia, the only filly in the field, was a five-time stakes winner last season and exits placings to Triple Chelsea in the Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland and Unbridled’s Sidney at Churchill.