War Dancer, winner of the 2013 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) and runner-up in last month's Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, is the 118-pound highweight in a field of eight older horses entered for the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) May 24 at Churchill Downs.
The Louisville Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile marathon over the Matt Winn Turf Course, will be run as the final race on a 10-race program at approximately 5:20 p.m. EDT.
Conditioned by two-time Louisville Handicap-winning trainer Kenny McPeek, War Dancer has banked $475,443 from three wins, three seconds and a third in 12 starts. Magdalena Racing and Diamond M Stables' 4-year-old son of War Front , who had the lead in the $250,000 Elkhorn with an eighth of a mile to go April 25 only to be caught in the final yards by Unitarian, will break from post position 2 under Alan Garcia.
Stella Perdomo's Forte Dei Marmi, who departs from the rail under Calvin Borel and 117 pounds, has won more races and money than any other Louisville Handicap entrant. The 8-year-old Selkirk gelding was a winner of three consecutive graded stakes in Canada last summer for trainer Roger Attfield including the grade I Northern Dancer Turf Stakes
Forte Dei Marmi earned a 2013 Sovereign Award as champion grass horse in Canada and boasts a career record of 35-10-1-5 worth $1,038,072 since his August 2008 debut. That Sept. 15 Northern Dancer last year was his most recent win, however, and he was seventh in the Elkhorn last time
Team Block's Chicago-based Suntracer, a three-time stakes winner conditioned by Chris Block, also will carry 117 pounds while breaking from the 6 hole under four-time Louisville Handicap-winning jockey Robby Albarado. The 6-year-old Illinois-bred son of Kitten's Joy seeks his first win since October 2012 when he took the $100,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne Racecourse, and he comes off a fourth in the 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn. Overall, his record is 31-6-6-3- for earnings of $577,087.
Another who merits consideration is Star Channel, a Florida-bred son of English Channel who races for trainer Eddie Kenneally and the partnership of Alastar Thoroughbred Company and Michael Valdes. The 5-year-old ridgling won the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes with a game closing run in January, but was fifth in his only start since then, the April 5 Tampa Turf Classic Stakes.
Completing the field are Catherine Zoc's allowance winner Formidable Heart, who gets blinkers from trainer Darrin Miller; Juddmonte Farms' homebred allowance winner Tattenham, sixth in the Elkhorn for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott last time out; Charles Fipke's homebred allowance winner Perfect Timber, eighth for Roger Attfield in a Keeneland allowance event; and Skychai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable, T. Raymond and J. Wagner's Moro Tap, seventh in his most recent outing, the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) when saddled by Mike Maker.
$100,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 10, approximate post 5:20 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Forte Dei Marmi (GB), C.H. Borel, 117, R L Attfield
2. War Dancer (KY), A. Garcia, 118, K G McPeek
3. Moro Tap (VA), R. Napravnik, 114, M J Maker
4. Perfect Timber (ON), J.L. Castanon, 114, R L Attfield
5. Tattenham (KY). S. Bridgmohan, 115, W I Mott
6. Suntracer (IL), R Albarado, 117, C M Block
7. Formidable Heart (KY), R. Santana, Jr., 114, D Miller
8. Star Channel (FL), C J Lanerie 115 E Kenneally
Equipment Changes: 7—Formidable Heart—Blinkers On