Merriebelle Stable’s Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) winner Blue Prize will return from a three-month layoff Saturday -- and eye something much bigger -- as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs.
“She’s been doing really well and working nearly every week since the Fleur de Lis,” trainer Ignacio Correas IV said. “We didn’t really know where to run her after the Fleur de Lis. We had thought about running in Saratoga but the weather was just so hot. She would’ve had to van 14 hours to and from New York and that was just too much in my opinion.
“We kept her in training in Kentucky and thought the Locust Grove would be a good race for her before the Breeders’ Cup. Our horses are here now at Churchill Downs and I think that’s good to get them used to the surface before the Breeders’ Cup.”
By winning the Fleur de Lis, Blue Prize was awarded an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3, also at Churchill Downs, but was not originally nominated to the race. The ownership group can nominate the 5-year-old mare before the pre-entry deadline on Oct. 22.
“This filly loves it here at Churchill Downs,” Correas said. “She’s just improved since we got her from Argentina and I think she’s getting better.”
The 1 1/16-mile Locust Grove, for fillies and mares 3-years-old, is carded as Race 9 on the 11-race program with a scheduled post time of 4:53 p.m. (all times Eastern).
The field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, assigned weight and morning line odds): Streamline (Chris Landeros, Brian Williamson, 123 pounds, 15-1); Champagne Problems (Calvin Borel, Ian Wilkes, 121, 4-1); Blue Prize (ARG) (Julien Leparoux, Correas, 123, 2-1); Dutch Parrot (Joe Rocco Jr., Will VanMeter, 121, 20-1); Pinch Hit (Shaun Bridgmohan, Brad Cox, 121, 4-1); Mannerly (Corey Lanerie, Brendan Walsh, 121, 5-1); Tiger Moth(Florent Geroux, Cox, 123, 10-1); Sailor’s Valentine (Brian Hernandez Jr., Eddie Kenneally, 121, 10-1); and Pacific Pink (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 121, 12-1).