A well-matched field of 12 grass specialists including the ultra-consistent mare Stephanie’s Kitten in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) and the 2015 debuts of Judy the Beauty and Bayern highlight a delicious Saturday appetizer leading up to the 141st running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs.
Saturday’s 13-race program begins at 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) and will be highlighted by the Kentucky Derby that goes as the day’s 11th race at 6:44 p.m.
The race preceding the Kentucky Derby will be the 28th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic that attracted a field of 12 for the 1 1/8-mile test. Post time for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is 4:44 p.m.
Topping the field is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Stephanie’s Kitten. Trained by Chad Brown, Stephanie’s Kitten is a three-time Grade I winner and earner of $2,724,104 with a record of 20-9-3-4.
Runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) to close out 2014, Stephanie’s Kitten started 2015 with a victory in the Hillsborough (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs in March. At Churchill Downs, Stephanie’s Kitten has won all three of her starts: the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) in 2011, the Edgewood in 2012 and last year’s Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII).
Stephanie’s Kitten will be ridden by John Velazquez and break from post position eight.
Other top contenders include Finnegans Wake, Seek Again and Jack Milton.
Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch’s Finnegans Wake is trained by Peter Miller. Finnegans Wake strung together consecutive Grade II wins in the Hollywood Turf Cup, San Gabriel and San Marcos before finishing second in the San Luis Rey (GII) in his most recent start.
Victor Espinoza, who will ride probable morning-line favorite American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby, has the mount and will break from post position five.
Returning for a second run in the race is Juddmonte Farms’ Seek Again. Trained by Bill Mott and to be ridden by Joel Rosario, Seek Again came within a head of upsetting reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in last year’s race.
Unraced since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI), Seek Again will break from post position nine.
Jack Milton is owned by Gary Barber and trained by Todd Pletcher. In his most recent start, he won the Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) at Keeneland. Javier Castellano returns to ride and will break from post position seven.
The field for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic with jockeys and weights from the hedge out is: Optimizer (Corey Lanerie, 120), Sky Captain (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120), Umgiyo (AUS) (Florent Geroux, 118), Scrumpdilicious (Joe Rocco Jr., 118), Finnegans Wake (Espinoza, 120), Coalport (Miguel Mena, 120), Jack Milton (Castellano, 124), Stephanie’s Kitten (Velazquez, 115), Seek Again (Rosario, 118), Chocolate Ride (Joe Talamo, 120), Slumber (GB) (Irad Ortiz Jr., 118) and Grand Arch (Rafael Hernandez, 118).
Source: Churchill Downs