June 23, 2024

Rematches on tap in Churchill Downs, Derby City Distaff; Jack Christopher returns in Pat Day Mile

Jackie's Warrior returns triumphant in the Count Fleet Sprint (Coady Photography)

Churchill Downs S. (G1) — Race 10 (4:31 p.m. ET)

Jackie’s Warrior didn’t run his best race last November in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but Aloha West did. Their next opportunity to rise to the occasion simultaneously occurs Saturday in the $750,000 Churchill Downs S. (G1) over seven furlongs.

Jackie’s Warrior, the 1-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar, retreated through the stretch after setting a pressured pace and exited the race with a knee chip. Aloha West capitalized, catching Dr. Schivel in the final jump to secure his first career stakes victory. Despite the loss, Jackie’s Warrior earned a plurality of votes as champion male sprinter, with Aloha West second in the balloting.

The rematch over the racetrack will mark Aloha West’s first start since the Breeders’ Cup. Jackie’s Warrior made a successful comeback three weeks ago, winning the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) over a sloppy Oaklawn strip by three parts of a length. The latter is 2-for-2 at Churchill, including a gutsy photo-finish score in the Pat Day Mile (G2) on last year’s Kentucky Derby Day program.

The Churchill Downs is more than just a two-horse affair. Prevalence enters off two consecutive wins, including a 2 1/4-length score in the Commonwealth (G3) over the Keeneland slop. Cezanne has two sharp graded sprint stakes wins to his credit in California, and ran Fulsome to a neck when stretching out around two turns in last month’s Oaklawn Mile (G3). Reinvestment Risk was a clear second in the Carter H. (G1) last month to Speaker’s Corner, one of the leading one-turn specialists in the country.

Derby City Distaff (G1) — Race 8 (2:48 p.m. ET)

Bell’s the One will be aiming for her second win in the $750,000 Derby City Distaff (G1) over seven furlongs, having won the race when it was contested on the pandemic-delayed Kentucky Derby card in September 2020.

The Neil Pessin-trained mare has four wins and three seconds from eight starts over the Churchill strip, her one modest run occurring in this race a year ago when she finished fourth behind Gamine and two others, all of whom won their next starts.

Bell’s the One exits a second-place finish behind Just One Time in the April 9 Madison (G1) at Keeneland. Just One Time is 2-for-2 since joining the Brad Cox stable, and kicked off her campaign with a rallying score over Four Graces in the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream. Also exiting the Madison are Grade 1 winner Kimari and Lady Rocket, who romped in the Go for Wand H. (G3) at Aqueduct two back.

Edgeway, who split champions Ce Ce and Gamine when finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) last fall, enters off a seven-length win in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita. Another leading contender is three-time graded winner Obligatory, who captured the Eight Belles (G2) and Chilukki (G3) at Churchill last season.

Pat Day Mile (G2) — Race 7 (1:56 p.m. ET)

Jack Christopher, dynamite winner of the Champagne (G1) last fall, makes his long-anticipated return to action in the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2). The Chad Brown trainee was a late withdrawal from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in November and his aspirations for the classics ended early in the winter as he dealt with shin issues.

Most of Jack Christopher’s 11 rivals are turning back in distance after failing to make headway in various Kentucky Derby (G1) preps. Among these are Doppelganger, O CaptainMajor General, and Pappacap.