A year after his Horse of the Year, Bricks and Mortar, slogged to victory over wet ground, trainer Chad Brown will take three shots at winning a second consecutive $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1), a 9-furlong event that traditionally precedes the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Rockemperor is perhaps the barn’s best chance after the 4-year-old suffered photo-finish beats in the Charlie Whittingham (G2) and Manhattan (G1) over the summer, while the multiple Grade 2-placed Sacred Life seeks his first graded triumph following a four-length romp in the Oceanport S. at Monmouth Park last time.
The third member of the Brown cast, Digital Age, was largely disappointing following his impressive rally in last year’s American Turf (G2), but enters on a form upswing after starting in the allowance ranks to start his 4-year-old campaign.
Factor This rides in on a four-race win streak for Brad Cox, which includes Grade 2 scores in the Wise Dan and Muniz Memorial. He figures to show speed along with recent Bernard Baruch (G2) upsetter Somelikeithotbrown and the multiple stakes-winning Spectacular Gem.
Grade 1 veteran Bowies Hero is inconsistent but quick enough to be thereabouts, while Mr Dumas exits a second-place finish in the Baruch and is 3-for-4 over the Matt Winn turf.
Although she suffered a shocking loss on Kentucky Derby weekend last year at odds of 1-5, Newspaperofrecord might not disappoint in the $500,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) for trainer Chad Brown.
Coming off a long layoff when beaten in the Edgewood (G3) and ultimately 0-for-3 in an abbreviated campaign last term, Newspaperofrecord has been blazing in two starts this year, peaking with facile, front-running scores in the Intercontinental (G3) and Just a Game (G1), the latter against returning rival and 2019 winner of this race Beau Recall.
Most of the other leading candidates, including Beau Recall herself, are attempting to bounce back from recent losses. Juliet Foxtrot has placed three times in Grade 1 company since last fall and could prove the most serious threat. Daddy Is a Legend, La Signare, and She’sonthwarpath are all capable of being in the frame with their best run.
Smooth Like Strait seeks his second Churchill stakes win of the season, and third in a row, in the $500,000 American Turf Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles.
Based in California with Mike McCarthy, the Midnight Lute colt captured the War Chant S. during the Churchill spring meet and followed up last month with a 2 1/2-length score in the La Jolla H. (G3) at Del Mar as an odds-on choice. John Velazquez was aboard for the former victory and is back up Saturday.
Field Pass, a four-time stakes winner this season, was beaten just three lengths in the Saratoga Derby last out after a troubled beginning. A slow start as the favorite in the May 23 War Chant compromised his chances versus Smooth Like Strait, but the gray rallied for third in the final furlong.
Fancy Liquor has won or placed in all five starts and exits a neck victory in the Caesars S. at Indiana Grand.