Of the eight entrants drawn for the $100,000 Aristides Stakes (gr. III), not only do all of them have one-turn wins at Churchill Downs, but six of them have stakes wins over the track. With all of them having an affinity for the surface, the six-furlong sprint should be a competitive affair.
The Aristides is the second of two graded stakes on Churchill’s June 4 card. The $100,000 Dogwood (gr. III) gets the stakes program started and it also drew a field of eight 3-year-old fillies going one mile.
The betting for the Aristides should be spread around, with four-time graded stakes winner Capt. Candyman Can the likely favorite, and other grade I winners Noble's Promise and Here Comes Ben both drawing significant attention. Those three are coming out of the May 7 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) where they finished fourth, fifth, and seventh, respectively in a competitive race that saw the top four finishers separated by a half-length and Noble’s Promise beaten only two lengths.
The Churchill Downs Stakes winner from 2010 is also back. Washington-bred Atta Boy Roy went wire-to-wire in an allowance race May 1 at Turf Paradise for his first win since being vanned off in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) in November.
Not to be forgotten is the defending Aristides champ, Riley Tucker, who won the 2010 edition by two lengths over Atta Boy Roy for his lone stakes victory.
And if that weren’t enough, last year’s The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial winner, Hurricane Ike, takes his crack for new trainer Jeffrey Thornbury. The 4-year-old Graeme Hall gelding seeks his first win since the Derby Trial.
The other two starters are Cash Refund, eighth in last year’s BC Sprint, and Good Lord—both of them entering off of allowance sprint wins at Churchill.
Rosemary A. Rauch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can took a two-length lead into the stretch in the Churchill Downs Stakes before being caught by a trio of late runners. The 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding won the Iroquois (gr. III) as a 2-year-old and the Hutcheson (gr. II), Bay Shore (gr. III), and Matt Winn Stakes as a 3-year-old. The Iroquois and Matt Winn were both at Churchill. His biggest triumph came in the 2009 NetJets King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I).
Capt. Candyman Can won a pair of minor stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream to start his 2011 campaign and his good form could wind up making him the post time favorite in the Aristides. Calvin Borel will keep the mount and they will break from post 3.
Noble’s Promise, owned Chasing Dreams Racing 2008 and trained by Ken McPeek, was fifth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) and won the Jimmy V. Stakes last fall at Churchill going six furlongs. The 4-year-old son of Cuvee, who scored his biggest win in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) as a juvenile, was making his season debut in the CD Stakes.
Marianne and Brandon Chase’s Here Comes Ben, who also was making his season debut in the CD Stakes, won the grade I Forego last summer at Saratoga for his fourth consecutive victory. Part of that win streak included the Kelly’s Landing Stakes at Churchill last June.
Post time for the Aristides is set for 5:29 p.m. EDT.
A half-hour prior to the Aristides is the Dogwood, and McPeek has a couple of chances in there as well. Craig B. Singer’s Salty Strike will enter off a dominating seven-length win in a May 20 optional claimer at Churchill. That was the first win in four starts this season for the Smart Strike filly, who also broke her maiden last year at Churchill.
McPeek’s other starter is Doug Branham’s Henny's Hurricane, who won a pair of races at the claiming level this spring at Keeneland. She was runner-up by a half-length in a one-mile allowance race May 12 at Churchill last out.
The 119-pound high weights are Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gran Lioness and William S. and Graydon Patterson’s Juanita. Gran Lioness won the Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March and was a tiring sixth last out in the Beaumont (gr. II) on the Keeneland Polytrack. Juanita, claimed for $25,000 in March at Gulfstream, scored in a one-mile starter handicap by three lengths at Churchill last month.
$100,000 Dogwood Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 4:59 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Might (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, A M Stall Jr.
2. Angelica Zapata (KY), M Pedroza, 117, R Pellegrini
3. Salty Strike (KY), M R Cruz 117, K G McPeek
4. Juanita (KY), J K Court, 119, M J Maker
5. Fantasy of Flight (KY), R Albarado, 117, J P Terranova II
6. Henny's Hurricane (KY), A Garcia, 117, K G McPeek
7. Holy Heavens (FL), S Bridgmohan, 117, B Chatters
8. Gran Lioness (KY), J Theriot, 119, W B Calhoun
$100,000 Aristides Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:29 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Here Comes Ben (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, C Lopresti
2. Riley Tucker (KY), K J Desormeaux, 118, S M Asmussen
3. Capt. Candyman Can (KY), C H Borel, 118, I R Wilkes
4. Hurricane Ike (FL), R Albarado, 118, J D Thornbury
5. Cash Refund (KY), S Bridgmohan, 118, S Margolis
6. Good Lord (FL), C J Lanerie, 118, F Kaelin
7. Atta Boy Roy (WA), J L Castanon, 118, V Lund
8. Noble's Promise (KY), A Garcia, 118, K G McPeek