Willmott Stable's consistent Aud, who turned in perhaps her career-best performance last fall at Churchill Downs, looms as a narrow favorite in an overflow field of 13 entered in Saturday's $150,000-added Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares on the grass.
Only 12 horses will run in the 1 1/8-mile race on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Aud, a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Wild Again trained by Louisville native Tony Reinstedler, just missed an upset on the Churchill Downs grass a year ago. She finished a neck shy of catching Hoh Buzzard in the $150,000-added Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies. She has only one win in eight races in 2004, but Reinstedler sees a big effort coming in the Cardinal.
"She's been very productive all year," he said. ""She always tries hard and runs her race. I feel like she's the type of filly that, every time you lead her over, she gives you 110 percent."
Aud lost by a nose to Humanita in the $150,000 Dowager at Keeneland last time out, but Reinstedler believes the 1 1/2 mile distance of that race was a bit long for her. Her lone win of the year came in the Yellow Rose Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park, when she finished second and was elevated to the top spot following the disqualification of My Misty Princess. Aud also ran well in runner-up finishes this year in the Beaugay (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct and the Modesty (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park.
With a career record of 5-5-0 in 19 races and earnings of $378,022, Aud will carry 115 pounds as the 3-1 morning line favorite. Brice Blanc will be in the saddle.
Andrena Van Doren's Shaconage is the co-second choice at 4-1 after wins on the Churchill Downs turf in the Argent Mortgage Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) and the Locust Grove (gr. IIIT). The 4-year-old El Prado filly, who is trained by Mitch Shirota, has been assigned 118 pounds and will be ridden by Joe Johnson.
William A. Sorokolit, Sr.'s Canadian invader Classic Stamp will compete at Churchill for the first time in the Cardinal. The Cliff Hopmans, Jr. trainee is coming off a close third-place finish in the E.P. Taylor Can-I) at her home track at Woodbine. Pat Day will ride the 119-pound high weight, who is also listed at 4-1 in the morning line odds.
$150,000-added Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
Post/Horse (Weight), Jockey, ML Odds
1. Classic Stamp (119), Pat Day, 4-1
2. Beret (117), Dean Sarvis, 15-1
3. Shaconage (118), Joe Johnson, 4-1
4. Beatiful Bets (113), Dan Coa, 30-1
5. May Gator (117), Jose Martinez, Jr., 15-1
6. Aud (115), Brice Blanc, 3-1
7. Finery (115), John McKee, 8-1
8. Chance Dance (116), Brian Hernandez, Jr., 15-1
9. Nannycam (113), Bill Troilo, 15-1
10. On The Bus (115), Eddie Martin, Jr., 8-1
11. Noisette (114), Larry Melancon, 8-1
12. Angela's Love (114), Tammy Fox, 20-1
13. Ocean Silk (114), Dan Coa, 10-1