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Aaron previews the 2023 Blame Stakes (G3) from Churchill Downs, then gives his top picks & long shots. Following his last-out allowance win at Keeneland, the John Ortiz-trained Barber Road steps back up to the stakes level. Will he sink or swim? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Lucky Seven Stable’s Rattle N Roll, who was victorious one week ago in the Pimlico Special (Grade III), is slated to return to Churchill Downs and face seven rivals entered in Saturday’s fourth running of the $225,000 Blame Stakes (GIII), the featured race on “Stephen Foster Preview Day.”
The 1 1/8-mile Blame can be used as a prep for the $1 million Stephen Foster (GI) that will be run four weeks later at Churchill Downs. The Blame was tabbed as Race 10 of 11 with a post time of 5:26 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 12:45 p.m.
Along with the Blame, the program also will feature the $225,000 Arlington Stakes (GIII), $225,000 Regret Stakes (GIII), $225,000 Shawnee Stakes (GIII), $225,000 Aristides Stakes (Listed) and $225,000 Audubon Stakes (Listed).
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Trained by Kenny McPeek, Rattle N Roll is a Grade I-winning son of Connect. Rattle N Roll was well meant as a 2-year-old following his victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland. At age 3, Rattle N Roll targeted the Road to the Kentucky Derby but did not qualify for the “Run for the Roses.” Following the first Saturday in May, Rattle N Roll tallied victories in the American Derby, St. Louis Derby and Oklahoma Derby (GIII).
Now a 4-year-old, Rattle N Roll began his campaign with a fourth-place finish in the New Orleans Classic (GII) at Fair Grounds but returned to the winner’s circle one month later at Keeneland in the Ben Ali Stakes (GIII). On Black Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico, Rattle N Roll scored in the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special when he rallied from eight lengths off the pace to defeat Speed Bias by a nose.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. was named on the seven-time winner Rattle N Roll for the Blame and will break from the rail.
The Top 4 finishers from the Ben Ali were entered in the Blame. Giddyup Stables and Tom Lambro’s Call Me Fast finished as the runner-up, only 1 ¼ length behind Rattle N Roll in the April 22 contest. The 4-year-old gelded son of Dialed In is a three-time winner and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux from post No. 4.
Call Me Fast crossed the line a half-length better than Sumaya U.S. Stables’ Pioneer of Medina. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt recorded his first graded stakes victory three months ago in the Mineshaft (GIII) at Fair Grounds. Pioneer of Medina will be ridden by Luis Saez, who was aboard the 4-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile in the Mineshaft, from post 7.
Lothenbach Stables’ five-time winner Happy American was defeated 4 ¾ lengths by Rattle N Roll in the Ben Ali. The 5-year-old gelded son of Runhappy tallied his lone graded stakes victory four months ago at Fair Grounds when he charged from 5 ½ lengths off the pace to win the Louisiana Stakes (GIII) under jockey James Graham. Trained by Neil Pessin, Happy American drew post 6 in the Blame and will once again have the riding services of Graham.
Another classy horse that entered in the Blame is Godolphin’s Santin, who won multiple Grade I races at Churchill Downs on the turf. Trained by Brendan Walsh, Santin scored a neck victory in the 2022 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs and returned to Grade I glory in the Arlington Million in mid-August beneath the Twin Spires. The Blame would be Santin’s first start on dirt with 12 prior races coming on turf or Tapeta. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will ride Santin out of post 5.
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