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Six fillies and mares are set to battle this Saturday night in the $250,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs on the track’s second biggest card of the year.
Two horses headline this year’s event, starting with the La Troienne Stakes (G1) winner She’s a Julie, who has won two straight stakes coming into this event. Her main competition will be the well-traveled Elate, who is still searching for her first win of 2019. The Bill Mott-trained mare has won multiple graded stakes races throughout her career, but she has only finished second and third in her two starts this year. Both losses came to the country’s current top older female, Midnight Bisou.
The winner of the Fleur de Lis Handicap will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Longines Distaff (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Fleur de Lis Handicap serves as the one of five stakes races on the card at Churchill Downs, all of which will be contested under the lights, with a special late post time on Saturday. The card will also feature the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2), which serves as a “Win and You’re In” for the Classic. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on June 29 at Gulfstream Park with the running of the Princess Rooney Handicap. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” event for the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Here’s a breakdown of the field:
#3 Elate – This horse needs no introduction to Breeders’ Cup followers. Two years ago, she was sent off as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff before finishing fourth to Forever Unbridled, losing by 4 1/2 lengths. Since then, she has recorded one victory in only four starts because of injury issues throughout the last two seasons. This year, she performed well in both of her starts at Oaklawn Park but has been unable to pick up a victory. This will be her third start off of a layoff.
#2 She’s a Julie – We’ll see if this improving filly can make it back-to-back-to-back graded stakes victories. Her year started with a dominating win in the Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park before conquering the La Troienne here on May 3 last time out. The combination of trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., has been hard to beat at this Churchill Downs this meet, which only adds to the positives for this filly.
#5 Blue Prize – When it comes to horses for courses, Blue Prize at Churchill Downs fits that bill better than anyone. The mare by Pure Prize has won 3 of her 7 career starts at this track, along with 2 seconds and 1 third. She is also the defending champion of this race, having won last year’s running by 1 1/2 lengths. Jockey Javier Castellano will be aboard for the first time in this contest.
#4 Go Google Yourself – After winning two allowance races in a row, Go Google Yourself moved up to the Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last time out, where she was a solid second. Her early speed makes her dangerous in a small field like this and this would be an enormous win for a resume that only seems to be missing a stakes victory.
#1 Skeptic – She will make her third start off the layoff, which is usually when you see a horse’s best performance. That would be positive progression after she romped in an allowance event at Churchill Downs last time out by 2 3/4 lengths. This filly has won 4 of 11 career starts and only finished off of the board 4 other times. Her tactical speed will be needed with this inside rail draw.
#6 Auspicious Babe – This filly will take another crack at stakes company after finishing third in an allowance event over this track last time out. The short field probably lured her connections into trying this event at a track where she usually runs her best races. In fact, all three of her career victories have come over the Churchill Downs oval. She has yet to win a stakes event.
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