The Derby/Oaks weekend of stakes competition at Churchill Downs kicks off on Thursday with the $100,000-added La Troienne (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies and the $100,000-added Mamzelle Stakes on the turf. Nine 3-year-old fillies – headed by four fillies that have placed in graded stakes races and an intriguing filly who makes her U.S. debut – have been entered in the 7 ½-furlong La Troienne.
The morning line favorite is Buckram Oak Farm's Aspen Tree, but the runner-up to Kentucky Oaks contender In the Gold in the Stonerside Beaumont (gr. II) at Keeneland has also been entered in Friday's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and could scratch from the La Troienne. The Carl Nafzger-trained daughter of Holy Bull has won one of six races, but dropped a narrow decision to La Troienne rival Punch Appeal in the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs and was third in the Bonnie Miss (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. Javier Castellano is scheduled to ride the 3-1 favorite. Helligbrodt Racing Stable's and Burning Day Farm's Punch Appeal leads the field in earnings with $400,840. The daughter of Successful Appeal has not raced since a third-place finish in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes at the Fair Grounds in January. The Pocahontas was one of six career wins for the Steve Asmussen-trained filly, who will be ridden in the La Troienne by John Velazquez. She's the 9-2 fourth choice.The co-second choices at 4-1 are Robert Adams' Hot Storm, winner of the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks at Santa Anita in January for trainer Dallas Stewart, and Seek A Star, an easy allowance winner at Keeneland in her most recent start for trainer John Ward, Jr. $100,000-added La Troienne Stakes (gr. III, 4:45 p.m.), 3-year-old fillies, 7 1/2 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Kota (FL), John McKee, 116, 8/1
2. Cool Spell (KY), Cornelio Velasquez, 116, 20/1
3. Hot Storm (FL), Jerry Bailey, 122, 4/1
4. Aspen Tree (KY), Javier Castellano, 116, 3/1
5. She's That Cat (KY), Orlando Mojica, 116, 20/1
6. Seek a Star (KY), Jorge Chavez, 116, 4/1
7. Our Kes (IRE), Rafael Bejarano, 118, 5/1
8. Culinary (KY), Robby Albarado, 122, 8/1
9. Punch Appeal (FL), John Velazquez, 122, 9/2In the five-furlong Mamzelle for fillies and mares, G.W.M. Farms' Anna Em looks to remain undefeated on the Matt Winn Turf Course.It will be the first race for the Tom Amoss-trained daughter of Our Emblem since finishing tenth in the Wildflower Stakes at Lone Star Park in October. She is listed as a 5-1 risk in the morning line odds for the race.
"She didn't run that well, and I felt like it was time to give her a break," said Amoss. "She's two for two here and the five-eighths distance is a big help, plus she's training well."
The early favorite is Carol and Charles Hammersmith's Miss Terrible, winner of the Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita for trainer Brad Ross. Jockey Alex Solis will ride the Argentine-bred daughter of Numerous who is the 3-1 morning line choice.
Dare To Dream Stable's 2004 Mamzelle winner Nicole's Dream will defend her title off a disappointing seventh-place finish in a Gulfstream Park allowance race that marked her only start of the year. The Larry Rivelli-trained daughter of Northern Trend has won 11 of 20 turf races and has been first or second in 12 of 17 at the Mamzelle distance. Eddie Martin, Jr. will ride. $100,000-added Mamzelle Stakes, fillies and mares 3 & up, 5 furlongs (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Hortense (CHI), Corey Lanerie, 121, 6/1
2. Anna Em (OH), Larry Melancon, 121, 5/1
3. Singit (KY), Brian Hernandez, Jr., 117, 8/1
4. Speedy Sonata (KY), Robby Albarado, 117, 9/2
5. High Speed Access (KY), Javier Castellano, 121, 10/1
6. Nicole's Dream (FL), Eddie Martin, Jr., 121, 4/1
7. Miss Terrible (ARG), Alex Solis, 117, 3/1
8. Mocha Queen (KY), Brice Blanc, 121, 8/1
9. Ms. Trick Or Treat (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 121, 20/1