Saturday is “Stephen Foster Preview Day” at Churchill Downs and the $225,000 Blame (G3) will feature eight horses prepping for a possible appearance in $1 million Stephen Foster (G1) on July 1. The 11-race program includes six stakes events, and the 1 1/8-mile Blame highlights three on the main track.
Blame (G3) – Race 10, 5:26 p.m. ET
Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll earned his sixth stakes tally with a nose score in the Pimlico Special (G3) on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard at Pimlico, and the four-year-old colt will wheel back 15 days later for the Blame. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Rattle N Roll has bankrolled more than $1.3 million in earnings, winning seven of 17 career starts, and the late-running chestnut tops a field of eight. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides.
Grade 3 victor Happy American, last seen finishing fourth to Rattle N Roll in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland on April 22, has shown an affinity for Churchill Downs, winning three of five starts. James Graham will be up on the confirmed closer for Neil Pessin. Multiple Grade 1 turf hero Santin will try to turn things around on the surface switch, opening the year with consecutive unplaced efforts on turf and synthetic.
Mineshaft (G3) winner Pioneer of Medina, most recently third in the Ben Ali for Todd Pletcher, figures to show speed with Luis Saez. Ben Ali runner-up Call Me Fast also possesses tactical ability, and Julien Leparoux retains the assignment on the four-year-old gelding for Mike Puhlich. Grade 3 winner Masqueparade will make his second start of the season for Al Stall Jr., and multiple Grade 2-placed Barber Road returns to stakes competition off an allowance win at Keeneland.
Aristides S. – Race 6, 3:18 p.m. ET
Bango logged his 10th win at Churchill Downs when easily taking the St Matthews Overnight S. on May 4, registering a 101 Brisnet Speed rating for the five-length decision, and the six-year-old will pursue a record-tying 11th victory under the Twin Spires in the $225,000 Aristides. If he proves best, Bango would equal Ready’s Rocket for the all-time win record.
Greg Foley conditions the seven-time stakes winner, and Bango will make a title defense in the six-furlong Aristides. John Velazquez picks up the assignment.
Grade 2 winner Gunite heads four rivals. The four-year-old colt notched his third win under the Twin Spries when recording a convincing win in the Harrods Creek S. last fall, and the Steve Asmussen-trained son of Gun Runner opened the year with a four-length romp in the King Cotton S. at Oaklawn Park. He exits a of placings overseas, finishing second to Elite Power in Saudi Arabia and a close third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), and Tyler Gaffalione guides the early/presser.
Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sibelius merits serious respect, capturing three consecutive stakes for Jeremiah O’ Dwyer, and Junior Alvarado has the call. Churchill Downs (G1) third-placer Tejano Twist and last-out allowance/optional claiming winner Strava complete the field.
Shawnee (G3) – Race 8, 4:22 p.m. ET
A prep for the $400,000 Fleur de Lis (G2), the $225,000 Shawnee (G3) drew eight runners, including Pauline’s Pearl, winner of the 2022 La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Asmussen-trained gray mare opened her five-year-old season with a win in January’s Houston Ladies Classic (G3), but Pauline’s Pearl will try to rebound from unplaced efforts in the Beholder Mile (G1) and May 5 La Troienne. Gaffalione will guide.
Idiomatic will receive support following a runner-up in the Ruffian (G2) at Belmont. The Bad Cox-trained four-year-old filly reeled off three straight at Turfway Park, including the Latonia S., before making her graded debut last time. Florent Geroux will be up.
Other contenders include Frost Point, who stretched her win streak to three when taking the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland on April 21, and Grade 3 winner Sixtythreecaliber.