April 18, 2019

Hot Springs puts unbeaten Churchill streak on line in Commonwealth Turf

Hot Springs scored in the Jerfferson Cup Stakes under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. at Churchill Downs on September 29, 2018 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

One week after hosting the most lucrative series of graded stakes on the calendar, Churchill Downs will showcase the country’s lone graded stakes of the weekend Saturday, the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf (G3) for three-year-olds.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has two of the seven entered in the 1 1/16-mile event, including potential race favorite Hot Springs, a one-length winner of the $100,000 Jefferson Cup during Churchill’s September meet.

Undefeated in three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course, Hot Springs’ prior graded stakes attempts resulted in a second in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park and a fourth in the Saranac (G3) at Saratoga.

Asmussen’s other entry is Reride, a multiple stakes winner on dirt who’s finished out of the money in his two previous turf stakes attempts.

March to the Arch, trained by Mark Casse, should be no worse than second choice in the wagering. Winner of the Toronto Cup at Woodbine three back, he was subsequently third in the Saranac and fourth in the Hill Prince (G2) at Belmont.

Trainer Mike Maker will be represented by the duo of Sniper Kitten and Year of the Kitten. After winning two of his first three outings, including the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury, Sniper Kitten finished up the track in the Secretariat (G1) and $200,000 Caesars at Indiana Grand.

Maker re-claimed Year of the Kitten for $50,000 at Belmont last time after losing him via the claim box for $40,000 two weeks earlier. A graduate over yielding ground at Churchill last November, his only subsequent victory was for a $40,000 tag at Saratoga.

The field is rounded out by the allowance-class Marzo and Zero Gravity.