June 22, 2024

Arlington, Regret among Churchill turf stakes trio

Field Pass survived an inquiry into the start of the Audubon (Coady Photography)

Churchill Downs hosts a trio of turf stakes Saturday on its Stephen Foster Preview Day program, the highlight being the transplanted $200,000 Arlington S. (G3) for older horses over 1 1/16 miles.

One of the more dangerous runners in the field might be the one with the least stakes experience. Floriform, a Juddmonte homebred trained by Bill Mott has won three in a row against overnight company, and was beaten only two lengths by subsequent Grade 1 winner Shirl’s Speight in the Feb. 5 Tampa Bay (G3) two back.

There appears to be sufficient speed to set up a late rally from Floriform or others. Grade 2 winner Get Smokin led and faded to second in his title defense of the Tampa Bay prior to a last-out trip to Dubai, while recent Opening Verse S. winner Gray’s Fable also has early foot.

Multiple graded winner Field Pass enters off a third in the Henry S. Clark S. at Laurel in his return from a three-month break, while 2020 Louisville (G3) victor Admission Office returns from a layoff dating back to February 2021. The field is rounded out by Like the King, a Grade 3 scorer on Turfway’s synthetic surface last season.

The $200,000 Regret S. (G3), a nine-furlong test for three-year-old fillies, figures to have a heavy favorite in McKulick, runner-up in the May 6 Edgewood (G2) in her season debut for Chad Brown. Beside Herself has won twice in wire-to-wire fashion on the lawn for Todd Pletcher, while Bourbonette Oaks winner Candy Raid switches surfaces after running up the track in last month’s Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The finale on the program is the $200,000 Audubon S. for three-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles. It marks the turf debut of Major General, who captured the Iroquois (G3) last fall and was second best in the Lexington (G3) two back, both on the main track.

Stakes veterans in the field include Grand Sonata, who captured the Kitten’s Joy (G3) and was runner-up in the Transylvania (G3), and Red Run, unplaced twice since taking the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston. Other potential players include Smokin’ T, Speaking Scout, Kitodan, Tallahatchiebridge, Summer Anthem, and James Jones.