A pair of grass stakes for three-year-olds attracted overflow fields on Friday's Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill Downs. The Grade 2, $200,000 American Turf at 1 1/16 miles, features a wide-open cast of males, while Breeders' Cup heroine Stephanie's Kitten looks to be favored in the $150,000 Edgewood for fillies, also at 1 1/16 miles.
Howe Great, who goes for the same connections that won last year's Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, might have been favored under normal circumstances but might lose some support after drawing post 14 in the American Turf. However, the son of Hat Trick is undefeated in three attempts over grass, including the Grade 3 Palm Beach and the Kitten's Joy during the Gulfstream meet. Howe Great took a detour to Polytrack for his most recent start in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, but turned in only a modest rally to finish fifth.
Also stuck outside, to the immediate left of Howe Great in post 13, is Silver Max, who ran off with the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths last month. The front-runner will have to contend with other speed, notably Blueskiesnrainbows, a strong third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at 42-1, and Scatman, who placed in the Grade 2 Rebel and a Grade 3 Southwest division earlier this year.
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey will be represented by two sons of their 2004 American Turf winner and champion Kitten's Joy. Gung Ho was a stakes winner on grass at Louisiana Downs last autumn, and exits a third behind Dullahan and Hansen in the Blue Grass. Coalport, who placed in the Grade 3 Bourbon last October, snapped a four-race losing skid on April 13 by winning a Keeneland allowance by a definitive 1 1/4 lengths.
California invader Tones, who won the Buffle by a neck before losing by the same margin in the Pasadena, is also joined in the lineup by Transylvania runner-up Travel Advisory. Other notables include the undefeated Louisiana-bred Look at the Time, undefeated multiple stakes winner Flashy Dresser, Grade 3-placed Finnegans Wake, and Star Channel, a stakes winner at Tampa Bay Downs last out for Todd Pletcher.
Stephanie's Kitten, who captured the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill last November, is the one to beat in the Edgewood following a get-fit third in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in her three-year-old bow. The Wayne Catalano-trained miss, who captured the Grade 1 Alcibiades in October, could be bound for the Group 1 Coronation at Royal Ascot next month with a strong performance.
The main threats could come from Grade 3 Miesque winner More Than Love, who flopped on Polytrack in her most recent outing; Grade 2 Demoiselle winner Disposablepleasure, who ran fourth in her only previous attempt on turf, stakes winner Miz Ida; and allowance winners Dame Marie, Treasured Up and Run a Risk.
The Grade 3, $100,000 Eight Belles, a seven-furlong stakes for three-year-old fillies attracted a field of eight. Contested, who's won her last two starts at Santa Anita by a combined margin of 12 1/4 lengths for Bob Baffert, could be favored over multiple stakes winner Good Deed and Small Kitchen, a rough-trip fourth in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks last time after winning her first two starts by wide margins.