The front-running Sugar Shake, who won the El Encino (gr. II) at Santa Anita prior to the Santa Maria, faces six rivals that include the formidable Indian Vale and Asi Siempre in the 1 1/16-mile main track test. Sugar Shake captured the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria on the lead by nearly two lengths over Ermine on Feb. 10. The 4-year-old Awesome Again filly will have David Flores back aboard for the Louisville and will carry top weight of 124 pounds.
That's two more than Martin Schwartz's Asi Siempre, who tuned up for Friday's race with a one-length win in the Doubledogdare (gr. III) at Keeneland April 18, her first start of the year for trainer Patrick Biancone. The 5-year-old El Prado mare also won the Spinster (gr. I) last fall on the Polytrack at Keeneland, one month before her second-place finish in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill. She was disqualified, however, and placed fourth. The Doubledogdare was her first effort since then. Garrett Gomez returns to ride the lifetime winner of $828,608 with seven wins in 17 starts..
Indian Vale, trained by Todd Pletcher, returned from a 10-month layoff March 31 to capture the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) on the Aqueduct inner track at nine furlongs. The 5-year-old A.P. Indy mare won a pair of graded stakes in 2005 but was sidelined for the entire 2006 season except for a fifth-place finish in the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) May 21. The Eugene Melnyk Canadian homebred has won six of eight lifetime and gains the services of jockey John Velazquez.
Lemons Forever, winless since taking last year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at odds of 47-1, attempts to break a six-race skid for trainer Dallas Stewart.
$300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 3:54 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Asi Siempre (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Baghdaria (KY), 118, Rafael Bejarano
3. Lemons Forever (KY, 118, Mark Guidry
4. Indian Vale (ON), 120, John R. Velazquez
5. Fiery Pursuit (KY), 118, Calvin H. Borel
6. Delicate Dynamite (KY), 120, Robby Albarado
7. Sugar Shake (KY), 124, David R. Flores