You probably are aware that the undercards for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks feature a bevy of strong graded stakes. But you might not have paid a lot of attention to how the fields for those races are shaping up.
Here is the latest from Churchill Downs on the likely fields for graded stakes on the Derby and Oaks undercards, along with a handful of other graded stakes at Belmont and Santa Anita this weekend.
Friday – Churchill Downs
La Troienne (G1), 1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil followed up with a third-place finish in the Spinster (G1) last October before starting 2021 with a narrow win over Letruska in the Azeri (G2). After winning the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) last July, Paris Lights took time off and returned to win the Distaff Handicap (G3) in April. This would be the first race for Dunbar Road since her third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff behind Monomoy Girl and Valiance.
Alysheba (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 4-year-olds and up
Maxfield has East from his trip to California, where his third-place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) was the first loss of his career. Max Player is expected here in his first start since finishing 11th in the Saudi Cup (G1). In winning the New Orleans Classic (G2), Chess Chief beat two other expected starters – Roadster (fourth) and Sonneman (fifth). After an allowance win at Gulfstream, Attachment Rate returned to graded stakes company last out and finished third in the Commonwealth (G3).
Eight Belles (G2), 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies
Dayoutoftheoffice, winner of her first three before losing to Vequist in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, is slated to make her 2021 debut here. Sun Path's third-place finish in the Honeybee (G3) was her first graded-stakes effort. Abrogate is 3-for-4, the only blemish being a third-place finish in the Dixie Belle Stakes in February.
Edgewood (G2), 1 1/16 miles (turf) 3-year-old fillies
We'll see the first of Brad Cox's Aunt Pearl since she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to go 3-for-3 in her career. Todd Pletcher brings Jouster, who has finished first or second in her last four starts, and Zaajel, winner of the Forward Gal (G3) in January but sixth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last out.
Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2), 5 1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up
This would be the first start of the year for Diamond Oops. After winning this race last year, when it was on the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard, he scored in the Phoenix Stakes (G2) before a sixth-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and ninth in the Mr. Prospector (G3). Classy John's win in the Costa Rising last out was his first victory since the 2018 Louisiana Futurity.
Saturday – Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs Stakes (G1), 7 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up
Mind Control looks for his first win in more than a year; he was second in the Carter Handicap (G1) last out. This would be the second start of the year for Hog Creek Hustle, who finished sixth in the Commonwealth (G3) last out. After finishing ninth in the Phoenix Stakes (G2) on Oct. 2, Lexitonian got a break and returned to finish fourth in an allowance race at Gulfstream on March 28.
Turf Classic (G1), 1 1/8 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Colonel Liam has won three in a row: the Tropical Park Derby, the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and the Muniz Memorial last out. Ivar returns off his fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Mile. Before that, he won the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
Derby City Distaff (G1), 7 furlongs, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Gamine, winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and this year's Las Flores (G3), makes her second start of the year here. Her ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks is her only loss in eight starts. Bell's the One scored in this race last year (September edition) with a nose win over Serengeti Empress. Chilukki (G3) winner Finite followed that effort by coming in fourth in the La Brea (G1) and third in the Bayakoa (G3).
Distaff Turf Mile (G2), 1 mile (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Only three are lined up for this race so far. Got Stormy is coming off a win in the Honey Fox (G3) in Feb. 27 after finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Blowout had only three starts last year, finishing second in an allowance race, the Noble Damsel (G3) and the Matriarch (G1). This would be his first start this year.
Pat Day Mile (G2), 1 mile, 3-year-olds and up
Dream Shake was No. 18 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard before his connections opted to send him here instead. Jackie's Warrior was 4-for-4 in one-turn races before trying two turns with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a third in the Southwest (G3). Prevalence was another Derby hopeful, winning his first two starts before a sixth-place showing in the Wood Memorial (G2).
American Turf (G2), 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-old males
Fire At Will, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, hasn't scored in his two starts since; he was eighth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and third in the Transylvania (G3).
Other graded stakes – Saturday
Señorita Stakes (G3), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), 3-year-old fillies
Madone won her first three races before finishing eighth in the Breeder' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Closing Remarks' second-place finish in the Providencia (G3) followed a second in the listed China Doll stakes and a win in the black-type California Cup Oaks.
Sheepshead Bay (G3), Belmont, 1 3/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
My Sister Nat could make her first start since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Before that, she was in the money in her previous six starts, including a win in the Waya Stakes (G3). Magic Attitude won the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) in September before a third-place effort in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and her seventh-place finish in the Hillsborough (G2).
Westchester (G3), Belmont, 1 mile, 4-year-olds and up
Dr Post has been on the board in each of his six career starts, including a second-place finish behind Tiz The Law in last year's Belmont Stakes. Mr. Buff is 2-for-2 this year, with wins in the Jazil Stakes and Stymie Stakes.
Fort Marcy (G2), Belmont, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 4-year-olds
This race might not fill, stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes said. Field Pass has been on the board in his last five starts – all graded stakes – but his only win during that stretch came in the Ontario Derby (G3).
Ruffian (G2), Belmont, 1 mile, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up
Lady Kate will seek her first win since the Groupie Doll Stakes in August. She came in second to Monomoy Girl in last year's La Troienne (G1). Our Super Freak's runner-up effort in the Bayakoa (G3) also was a defeat by Monomoy Girl. Lake Avenue steps back into stakes company after two wins in a row.