June 24, 2024

Micheline returns to Kentucky Downs for Ladies Marathon

Micheline winning the 2020 Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs (Coady Photography)

Kentucky Downs brings the curtain down on Sunday with a trio of stakes for distaffers. Micheline tops the $550,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon, while sophomores take center stage in the $500,000 Music City S., and the $500,000 Ainsworth S. is for two-year-old fillies.

Ladies Marathon – Race 9 (5:50 p.m. ET)

Micheline returns to the scene of her richest victory in the 2020 Dueling Grounds Oaks, where she set the 1 5/16-mile course record. The Godolphin homebred maintained her high level of performance in her next two, when runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and the winner of her Mar. 6 reappearance in the Hillsborough (G2). Although unplaced in all three subsequent starts, Micheline didn’t have her ideal conditions. At the 1 5/16-mile distance on a quick surface, the Mike Stidham runner is poised to bounce back with hot-riding Joel Rosario in the irons.

Luck Money, third in last fall’s Dueling Grounds Oaks, reversed form with Micheline in the July 10 Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3). As Luck Money closed for second, Micheline floundered in seventh on the soft going at Delaware Park. While Micheline enters off the two-month holiday, Luck Money ran fourth in the Aug. 7 Glens Falls (G2) in the interim.

Grade 3 scorer Blame Debbie, who wired the June 13 Searching S. at Pimlico over Luck Money, has since finished fifth in both the Dick Memorial and the Dance Smartly (G2). Family Way placed third in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup versus males, while Go Big Blue Nation ships in off a sharp allowance tally at Del Mar.

European flavor comes courtesy of British-bred La Lune, the Pinnacle (G3) winner who makes her U.S. debut for Ed Vaughan, and Swedish stakes-placed Eesha My Flower, a Kentucky-bred repatriated in the barn of Ian Wilkes. Brazilian Group 1 veteran Naomi Broadway has yet to find her form for Paulo Lobo.

Stand Tall, fifth to Micheline here last year, missed narrowly to Family Way in a Churchill Downs allowance two back. Course-and-distance winners Three Flamingos and Joy of Treasure could show more back at this venue, while Pallas Athene hasn’t lived up to her pedigree.

Music City S. – Race 8 (5:15 p.m. ET)

Tobys Heart proved her one-turn flair when capturing last year’s Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga and the Apr. 9 Limestone Turf Sprint S. at Keeneland. Now shortening up after placings in the Tepin S. and Lake George (G3) over a route, the Brian Lynch pupil is the one to beat with Rosario in the 6 1/2-furlong Music City.

Tepin heroine Navratilova has turf sprint credentials herself, including thirds in the Limestone and in the Mamzelle S. at Churchill Downs. Familiar foe New Boss, the Mamzelle near-misser and third in the Tepin, has since aired in the off-the-turf Pea Patch S. at Ellis Park. Fourth in the Mamzelle was Wesley Ward’s Illegal Smile, just denied by a head in the Galway S. at Saratoga.

Saranya, who had been fourth to New Boss in the Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe Memorial at Fair Grounds, scored her stakes breakthrough at Canterbury last out. The Brad Cox trainee has yet to race at less than a mile, but as a half-sister to turf sprinter Francatelli by The Factor, Saranya is entitled to prosper. Multiple stakes winner Joy’s Rocket, runner-up to Tobys Heart in the Bolton Landing in her only turf try, returns from a seven-month layoff, and Puppymonkeybaby arrives from a 24-1 stakes upset at Colonial Downs.

Farsighted and Mischiefful (the also-eligible) were respectively second and third in the off-the-turf Coronation Cup. The stakes-placed pair of Risky Reward and Running Memories hope to step up, as do Alwayz Late, a troubled sixth in the Galway, and well-bred Saratoga maiden winner Pathetique.

Ainsworth S. – Race 7 (4:41 p.m. ET)

The 6 1/2-furlong Ainsworth lured a dozen juvenile fillies, plus one also-eligible. Mark Casse’s new European recruit, Cheerupsleepyjean, warrants respect after thirds in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot and Balanchine (G2) at the Curragh. Poppy Flower comes off a second to her Ward stablemate Chi Town Lady in the recent Bolton Landing, where Flip My Id was seventh. Others last seen at the Spa are turf sprint maiden winners Mystic Eyes, Lady Danae, and Take the Backroads, along with J L’s Rockette, who tries turf off a seventh in the Adirondack (G2).

Koala Princess romped in her Monmouth unveiling for Arnaud Delacour, and now picks up Rosario, while Townplace is likely better than her trailing effort in the Colleen S. on the Jersey shore. Cavalier Cupid has won two straight in restricted company at Colonial, including the Keswick S.