Australian-bred Man of Illusion, third most recently in the Shakertown (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Friday's $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
The five-furlong Aegon, one of six stakes races on the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) card at Churchill, drew a full field of 12.
Trained by Patrick Biancone for a partnership that includes A.C. Cotter and DHK Investments, Man of Illusion made a strong impression in the 5 1/2-furlong Shakertown, also on the grass. He closed from sixth in the stretch in his United States debut to finish two lengths behind the upset winner, Aegon rival Atticus Kristy. Man of Illusion won five of eight in Australia, where John Wigginton trained him. The Shakertown was the first start for the 5-year-old bay son of Encosta de Lago since Mid-November. Julien Leparoux has the mount.
Seven-year-old gelding Mighty Beau, who won the Turf Sprint a year ago, tired in the Shakertown to finish ninth. To be ridden by Alex Solis, he is the 4-1 second choice. The Dale Romans-trained veteran of 44 starts (nine wins) leads the field with earnings of $532,409.
Garrett Gomez rides Atticus Kristy again after teaming with the 5-year-old Atticus
gelding to spring an 8-1 upset in the April 14 Shakertown. The winner of nine races in 29 starts, Atticus Kristy has been in strong form since last fall for trainer Merrill Scherer.
Chilean-bred Geronimo ships in from Southern California after being claimed for $80,000 in his last start by trainer Eric Guillot. The 7-year-old gelding captured the Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside turf course in October and has won 11 times and been in the money on 27 occasions in his 39-race career. $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 7, 3:04 p.m.), 3 & Up, 5 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. The Nth Degree (CO), Edgar S. Prado, 122, 6/1
2. Lion Andthe Lamb (KY), Russell A. Baze, 118, 30/1
3. Western Kind (FL), Rafael Bejarano, 122, 10/1
4. Geronimo (CHI), Victor Espinoza, 122, 5/1
5. Atticus Kristy (KY), Garrett K. Gomez, 124, 5/1
6. Social Probation (KY), Calvin H. Borel, 118, 30/1
7. Sgt. Bert (KY), Robby Albarado, 122, 15/1
8. Justice for Auston (KY), Rene R. Douglas, 118, 20/1
9. Man Of Illusion (AUS), Julien R. Leparoux, 118, 5/2
10. Parker Run (KY), Jesus Lopez Castanon, 118, 20/1
11. Rockhurst (IL), Mark Guidry, 122, 15/1
12. Mighty Beau (OK), Alex O. Solis, 122, 4/1