Frank Stronach’s 5-year-old Ginger Punch heads a field packed with talent in the $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) day May 2. Facing the Eclipse Award winner will be grade I winner Lear’s Princess, grade II winner Kettleoneup, and blacktype winner Unforgotten.
The 1 1/16-mile Louisville has drawn a field of seven older fillies and mares. It will be the third start of the season for Ginger Punch, the champion older mare of 2007. This Bobby Frankel trainee kicked off the year with a six-length score in the Sunshine Millions Distaff after last year's win in the Emirates Airlines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. In her second start of the season, however, she finished a well-beaten third after setting the pace in the April 5 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park, back eight lengths behind Zenyatta and Brownie Points. Ginger Punch, a homebred daughter of Awesome Again
, is the 124-pound highweight in the Louisville with regular rider Rafael Bejarano in the irons.
Closest to Ginger Punch in terms of credentials is 2007 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) winner Lear’s Princess, whose determined victory over Rags to Riches in the fierce stretch run of that race halted the 2007 champion 3-year-old filly's four-race winning streak and dealt her a second career loss. Lear’s Princess has not won a race for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin since then. Her best finish was a tough loss by a nose to Dreaming of Anna in the Feb. 16 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs, while her worst came one race prior when she finished 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Her most recent start, in the March 15 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay, resulted in a fourth-place finish. Now the Lear Fan filly returns to dirt for West Point Stables. She carries 122 under Eibar Coa.
The grade II winner in this race is Tom Crouch’s homebred Kettleoneup, also assigned 122 pounds under jockey Calvin Borel. The Victory Gallop filly comes into the Louisville after finishing sixth in the Apple Blossom. Her most recent wins came in the two starts prior to that effort, when she first took the Nov. 22 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) and then won the Feb. 16 Pippin Stakes for trainer Michael Tomlinson.
Finally, trainer Dallas Stewart will send out Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, a 4-year-old daughter of Northern Afleet
whose claim to fame is a score in Delta Downs’ March 21 Goddess Stakes. She carries 120 pounds under Robby Albarado. Leah’s Secret, Silver Knockers, and Bayou’s Lassie complete the field.
$300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II, race 6, approximate post 2:10 p.m.), 1 1/16 miles for older fillies and mares, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Silver Knockers, 118, John Velazquez
2. Lear's Princess, 122, Eibar Coa
3. Kettleoneup, 122, Calvin Borel
4. Bayou's Lassie, 118, Kent Desormeaux
5. Unforgotten, 120, Robby Albarado
6. Leah's Secret, 118, Garrett K. Gomez
7. Ginger Punch, 124, Rafael Bejarano