Glen Hill Farm’s Banned, a smashing winner of the American Turf (gr. IIT) in his most recent start, returns to Churchill Downs as the heavy favorite for the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) on June 18.
The Jefferson Cup is the first of two 3-year-old graded turf races on Churchill’s card, which is highlighted by the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I). The Jefferson Cup is at 1 1/16 miles, while the $125,000 Regret (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies is at 1 1/8 miles.
Banned, the 121-pound high weight, is scheduled to face seven in the Jefferson Cup, but the field will likely be reduced by one, as the only other stakes winner in the field, Great Mills, raced at Indiana Downs on June 15 and will likely be scratched.
Trained by Tom Proctor, Banned rolled to his third win in six starts in an emphatic 4 1/2-length victory in the American Turf on Kentucky Oaks Day. It was the first race of the year for the son of Kitten's Joy, who ran fifth last fall to Pluck in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) and started his season with a close third-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland.
Since the American Turf, the bay colt has worked four times on the Churchill Downs turf course. Jose Lezcano will have the mount this time.
Banned was bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is out of the Capote mare Cardinalli. He was bought for $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall 2009 yearling sale.
The pace in the Jefferson Cup could be set by Anthony Chok’s Dream Warrior, a wire-to-wire winner of a May 20 allowance race over the Churchill turf. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus is two-for-three since trainer Eddie Kenneally switched him to grass.
Another front-runner is likely to be Perregaux, an allowance winner at Fair Grounds for trainer Neil Howard back in December. Most recently, Perregaux missed by a half-length in his 3-year-old debut May 27 in a one-mile second-level allowance contest at Churchill.
A field of eight was entered in the Regret, including four-time stakes winner Kathmanblu. The daughter of Bluegrass Cat will be making her first start since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). She has won three of five starts on turf, including the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream back in January. Last November, Kathmanblu was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill.
Julien Leparoux will ride Kathmanblu for Ken McPeek, who brings a streak of three consecutive Churchill Downs stakes victories into Stephen Foster day. McPeek will also saddle Catesby Clay’s homebred Bizzy Caroline, a daughter of Afleet Alex who rides a pair of impressive allowance victories at Keeneland and Churchill into the Regret. Manoel Cruz will ride Bizzy Caroline from the inside post.
A major threat to the McPeek pair is Zayat Stable’s Diva Ash, the rapidly improving winner of the Edgewood Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day. The Dale Romans-trained daughter of Tapit, a winner of two of three starts this season, will be ridden by Robby Albarado.
Another filly turning to the grass after a run in the Kentucky Oaks is Right Time Racing’s Bouquet Booth, a solid fifth in the Oaks and winner on dirt of the Delta Downs Princess (gr. III) and Fair Grounds’ Silverbulletday. The Steve Margolis-trained daughter of Flower Alley will make her turf debut in the Regret and Shaun Bridgmohan will be in the saddle.
Other Regret contenders include Michael Tabor’s Excited, an easy winner of the $50,000 Hilltop at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard for Todd Pletcher, and Sovereign Stable’s Blushandbashful, third in the same race for trainer John Terranova II.
$100,000 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:55 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Live in Joy (KY), M R Cruz, 117, W M Catalano
2. Redboard (KY), L R Goncalves, 117, G W Simms
3. Dream Warrior (KY), C J Lanerie, 117, E Kenneally
4. Banned (KY), J Lezcano, 121, T F Proctor
5. Swagger Jack (VA), J Graham, 117, D Miller
6. Perregaux (KY), R Albarado, 117, N J Howard
7. Benergy (KY), J Castellano, 117, D L Romans
8. Great Mills (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, S M Asmussen
$125,000 Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 11, 5:55 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Bizzy Caroline (KY), M R Cruz, 116, K G McPeek
2. Diva Ash (KY), R Albarado, 116, D L Romans
3. Bouquet Booth (KY), S Bridgmohan, 118, S Margolis
4. Holidaysatthefarm (FL), J Lezcano, 116, T F Proctor
5. Kathmanblu (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, K G McPeek
6. Excited (KY), J Castellano, 116, T A Pletcher
7. Gaya (KY), J Graham, 118, T M Amoss
8. Blushandbashful (KY), F Lenclud, 116, J P Terranova II