November 29, 2021

Like the King back on turf for the Audubon

Like The King
Like The King wins the Jeff Ruby Steaks (Photo by Coady Photography)

Audubon S. — Race 5 (2:45 p.m. ET)

Like the King might have run to his odds in the Kentucky Derby (G1) earlier this month, but more will be expected by bettors on Saturday when the Palace Malice colt tries the turf a second time in the $150,000 Audubon S. over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs.

Qualifying for the Derby with a one-length score in the March 27 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, Like the King was sent away at 49-1 in the Derby. Bumped leaving post 2, the Wesley Ward trainee fell back early and improved position only modestly over the course of the mile and a quarter, finishing 12th of 19.

Although he’s been most productive over Turfway’s synthetic Tapeta surface, Like the King broke his maiden by a wide margin in his only previous turf try, at Belterra Park in Ohio, last September.

Several alumni from the American Turf (G2), held on Derby Day, are also in the Audubon field. Hidden Enemy fared best of the quartet, finishing fourth, with Palazzi and Royal Prince not far behind. The latter two have both won stakes on the grass.

Godolphin homebred Cave Hill exits a win in the Rushaway S. at Turfway after earning minor awards in pair of stakes appearances on the turf. Cellist, a son of champion Big Blue Kitten, and out of a full sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Optimizer, is an intriguing stakes newcomer for trainer Rusty Arnold.

Regret S. (G3) — Race 8 (4:22 p.m. ET)

Spanish Loveaffair will be hoping for better luck than she’s had of late in the $150,000 Regret S. (G3), a nine-furlong grass test for three-year-old fillies.

Although officially unplaced in both starts this year, Spanish Loveaffair was comfortably first across the wire in the Feb. 27 Herecomesthebride (G3), only to be disqualified to fourth for interference approaching the far turn. Last time, the Mark Casse trainee was caught behind a slow pace in the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland and wound up trailing the field of six in a dull effort.

Barista and Line Dancing out-finished Breeders’ Cup winner Aunt Pearl when placing second and third, respectively, in the April 30 Edgewood (G2) at big odds. The Grade 3-placed Oyster Box is another looking for a better run after flattening out when bidding into a slow pace last time in the Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct.

Gam’s Mission, runner-up to Aunt Pearl in her debut last fall, produced a strong turn of foot to narrowly score in her last two starts and is a potential danger in her stakes debut.

Douglas Park S. — Race 11 (5:58 p.m. ET)

Set Piece will look to make it two wins in a row at the spring meet in the $110,000 Douglas Park S., a 1 1/16-mile grass test which caps the 11-race program. The Juddmonte homebred was a rallying winner of the one-mile Opening Verse S. during Derby Week, and will again be re-opposed by the speedy Gray’s Fable, who previously captured the Appleton (G3) before retreating to third in the Opening Verse.

Also in the lineup are the stakes-winning Ramsey Solution, who is unbeaten in two starts over the Matt Winn turf, and the Grade 1-placed Parlor, who’ll be making his first start since November.