A seasoned and accomplished field of older females is set for the May 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs, in which graded stakes winners Ballymore Lady, Dawn After Dawn, and Elusive Lady appear to be in top form.
The $200,000, one-mile contest on the turf is the eighth race on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) undercard, and is slated for 3:03 p.m.
Ballymore Lady, a 6-year-old daughter of War Chant —Basking, by Alydar will enter the race off a game third-place effort in the March 14 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs. Trained by Eddie Kenneally for Ron McCauley and Colin Purcell, she boasts a career record of 7-3-3 from 20 starts, which includes a victory in the Feb. 14 Endeavor Stakes (gr. IIIT), also at Tampa Bay Downs.
Ballymore Lady has won or placed in three out of her four previous starts at Churchill, including a second in last year’s Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT). Bred in Kentucky by Grapestock, the breeding arm of Tom Simon’s Vinery, Ballymore Lady will break from post seven in the Turf Mile with jockey Julien Leparoux in the irons.
Dawn After Dawn captured last year’s La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park, after which she experienced a six-race losing streak on synthetic tracks across the West Coast and Keeneland. The daughter of Successful Appeal returned to the top of her game after being switched to the turf this year and won back-to-back stakes contests at Santa Anita.
Trained by John Sadler for Dawn and Ike Thrash, Dawn After Dawn ran fourth last out in the April 12 Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT). She finished off the board in her two previous Churchill efforts, one of which was the 2007 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) behind eventual 3-year-old champion filly Rags to Riches. Rene Douglas will ride Dawn After Dawn for the first time in the Turf Mile. The pair will break from the outside post.
Elusive Lady is looking to end a recent streak of “seconditis” to earn her second graded stakes win and first on the turf. The daughter of Van Nistelrooy has narrowly missed victory in her last three races: the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and the Endeavour (gr. III) and Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. She finished three quarters of a length better than Ballymore Lady in the latter event.
Bred in Florida by Donald Ming, the gray or roan filly is conditioned by John Kimmel for Paul Bulmahn's Gold Mark Farm. Eibar Coa gets the riding assignment for Elusive Lady, who will break from post nine.
Rounding out the field for the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile are Zee Zee, winner of last year’s Edgewood Stakes on the Churchill turf; English-bred group III winner Visit; other stakes winners Lemon Chiffon, Tizaqueena, and Rasierra; stakes-placed Irish-breds Sugar Mint and Rustic Flame; and Stealin' Kisses, a Churchill allowance winner last year on the turf.
$200,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. II, Race 9, 3:03 p.m.), fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, one mile (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lemon Chiffon, 118, Mike Smith
2. Visit, 118, Garrett Gomez
3. Tizaqueena, 118, James Theriot
4. Rasierra, 118, John Velazquez
5. Zee Zee, 118, Kent Desormeaux
6. Sugar Mint, 118, Rafael Bejarano
7. Ballymore Lady, 118, Julien Leparoux
8. Stealin' Kisses, 118, Robby Albarado
9. Elusive Lady, 118, Eibar Coa
10. Rustic Flame, 118, Cory Lanerie
11. Dawn After Dawn, 118, Rene Douglas