Callwood Dancer Formidable in Cardinal
Three Chimneys’ Callwood Dancer, the lone grade II winner in a field of older fillies and mares, has the edge and will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs Nov. 15.
Also deserving of major consideration are the only other graded stakes winners in the field of 10–Lady Digby and Indescribable. Both 4-year-old fillies enter off respectable efforts in grade I company. The 1 1/8-mile Cardinal will be run on the Matt Winn Turf Course and go off as race 9 on the Churchill program.
Canadian-based Hall of Fame trainer Roger Atffield does not ship many horses to Louisville (He has just one career stakes winner at Churchill), but in Callwood Dancer he has a legitimate opportunity for a victory. The daughter of Danehill Dancer is in the midst of a very solid 4-year-old campaign, having produced a 3-2-0 record from six starts.
“I send horses to Keeneland quite a bit, but not so much Churchill for whatever reason,” said Atffield. “This particular filly is in very good shape and this spot makes a lot of sense."
Bred in Ireland by Quay Bloodstock, Callwood Dancer earned her first career graded stakes win May 31 in the $319,000 Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine, as she broke to an early lead and wired the field for 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Despite finishing runner-up in her last two starts, those efforts make her very formidable in the Cardinal.
On Sept. 7, the chestnut filly missed by only a length to J’ray in the Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT), but finished two lengths ahead of Forever Together, who went on to win the Emirates Airline $2-million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. Last out, Callwood Dancer was defeated 1 3/4 lengths by Folk Opera in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) Oct. 4, but was a head better than 2007 Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, who was second to Forever Together in the Breeders’ Cup.
“It’s unfortunate that she wasn’t Breeders’ Cup eligible and that she was in process of being sold,” Attfield said of Callwood Dancer, who was previously owned by Harlequin Ranches and will be making her first start for Three Chimneys. “She has had a very solid year and I believe she’ll improve even more next year. She’s very versatile and always runs her race.
“She’s coming into this race nicely. She should fit very well in here.”
Attfield said regular rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva would position Callwood Dancer where he sees fit and might even put her on or near the lead in a race that doesn’t seem to possess much early speed. She will break from post five.
On paper, Earle Mack’s Lady Digby also fits well in here, as the Grand Slam filly is 1-2-0 from four graded stakes efforts in 2008. Trained by Graham Motion, Lady Digby earned her first black-type win in April in the one-mile Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park, and two starts later took the All Along Stakes (gr. IIIT) by more than two lengths at Colonial Downs.
Last out, Lady Digby was a bit overmatched when finishing fifth to Forever Together in the Diana Handicap (gr. IT) at Saratoga. That start was on July 26 and she enters the Cardinal with three and half months off. Ramon Dominguez will ride.
Don Adam’s Indescribable has one victory in six starts this season, that coming in the Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III) May 26 on the Polytrack. Most recently, the Bill Mott trainee was fourth to Ginger Punch in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga. This will be her third career start on turf.
One more horse to consider is Runnymede Farm’s Meribel, who has only an allowance win to show for six starts this year, but has been beaten by some very good horses, including Dreaming of Anna, Carriage Trail, and Mauralakana. Helen Pitts trains the 5-year-old daughter of Peaks and Valleys.
$100,000 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:37 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
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