July 18, 2024

River City headlines three-stakes Sunday card at Churchill

Set Piece, with Florent Geroux up, wins the 2021 Wise Dan Stakes (Photo by Jamie Newell/TwinSpires)

While temperatures will be cooling significantly in Kentucky this weekend, the open stakes action will be doing the opposite at Churchill Downs. The Louisville track’s Sunday card is highlighted by three stakes, including the $300,000 River City H. (G3) for older horses on the turf.

The likely favorite in the nine-furlong River City is multiple Grade 2 winner Set Piece, who has a pair of graded stakes wins at Pimlico from six starts this season. A four-time winner over the old Churchill turf, Set Piece’s only try over the newly renovated course was a fourth-place finish in the Arlington Million (G1) on Aug. 13, a day when speed held well in two turf stakes while closers like Set Piece were at a disadvantage.

Trained by Brad Cox, Set Piece enters off of a fourth-place effort in Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland.

Grade 1 veteran In Love enters off his best finish of the season, a runner-up effort in a conditioned allowance at Keeneland for trainer Paulo Lobo. Grade 3 winner Pixelate has also seen limited action this year, but won a three-way-photo for the place in the Oct. 9 Knickerbocker (G3) at Aqueduct when last seen.

Like Set Piece, Cellist was never a factor in the Arlington Million, but he was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the Sycamore (G3) last time and has winning experience over the new Churchill course when taking the Louisville (G3) back in May.

A competitive group of 10 older sprinters will dash six furlongs in the $300,000 Bet On Sunshine S. earlier in the card. Sibelius looks to bounce back from a fourth-place finish as the favorite in last month’s Phoenix (G2), but others to watch for include horse-for-the-course Bango, 2021 Bet On Sunshine runner-up Mucho, and Miles Ahead, photo-finish winner of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society S. on Sept. 17.

Joyful Cadence might prove the filly to catch in the $300,000 Dream Supreme S. for fillies and mares at six furlongs, though allowance winner Palm Cottage has speed as well and is significantly better than what she showed in a Grade 2 at Keeneland last month.

The back class of the field is Sconsin, but the Include mare’s form has slid since her win in the Winning Colors (G3) in late June. Club Car has settled for minor awards mostly this year, and was notably second in this event last year to local star Bell’s the One.