A field of nine will try the Churchill Downs turf Friday in the $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT), the race immediately preceding the headliner on the day, the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Fred F. Bradley's homebred maiden Brass Hat, ridden by Jason Lumpkins, took command in the stretch and rolled to an easy 3 3/4-length victory over a suspect field of 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park.
Trainer Nick Zito and jockey Jerry Bailey, the connections for even-money favorite Birdstone who drew the rail for the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, will also join forces Saturday with El Prado Rob, who drew the rail for the Rushaway Stakes on the undercard.
The "NPZ" saddlecloths of Nick Zito whizzed by one after another Saturday morning, as Zito sent out virtually his entire 3-year-old force for five-furlong breezes at Palm Meadows training center, in preparation for their upcoming preps.
Read the Footnotes, winner of the Nashua (gr. III) and Remsen Stakes (gr. II), makes his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), where he takes on Calder-based stakes horses Second of June, Silver Wagon, Sir Oscar, and Broadway View.
Barbara Cesare's Second of June grabbed command on the far turn and drew away from favored Silver Wagon in the stretch to record a convincing 2 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
This is the first in a series of early looks at next year's 3-year-olds and where they might stack up on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Right now, it is Nick Zito, Richard Mandella, and Todd Pletcher who have the numbers.
The knock on Cuvee is that he has a sprint pedigree, but so far, the longer the distance for the standout chestnut colt, the bigger his margin of victory. The Verne Winchell-bred Carson City colt drew off to win Sunday's $200,000 Belmont Futurity (gr.I) for 2-year-olds by 8 1/4 lengths.
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