Winchell Thoroughbred's unbeaten Cuvee, a dominating winner of the Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, is the headliner in a battle of so far perfect 2-year-olds converging on Churchill Downs for $125,000-added Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III).
Trainer Steve Asmussen's son of Carson City will attempt to preserve his spotless record against five rivals that include a pair of unbeaten stakes winners in Dogwood Stable's Limehouse and Coast To Coast Racing Fund's Next Bandit.
The six-furlong Bashford Manor is the featured race on the closing day of Churchill Downs' 129th Spring Meet, which will also be the final day of racing at the historic track before the launch of the $95 million second phase of its $121 million renovation project. The Bashford Manor is scheduled as the 10th event on an 11-race card that wraps up the 52-day meet.
Cuvee has faced little resistance in his two starts this spring at Churchill Downs. He opened his career with a 6 1/4-length romp on Kentucky Oaks Day and dominated five rivals in his romp in the 5 1/2-furlong Kentucky Breeders' Cup on May 26. The strapping chestnut colt has matured so rapidly this spring that Asmussen has worked Cuvee in company with older stablemates.
"He's had harder works than he's had races so far," Asmussen said. "No disrespect intended, but we've rode him harder to the wire in the morning than he has in the afternoon."
Regular rider Lonnie Meche will ride Cuvee, who shares high weight of 121 pounds and has been made the even money morning line favorite.
Limehouse, a chestnut son of Grand Slam, has not competed since he upset stablemate Heckle in the Three Chimneys Juvenile on Kentucky Derby Day. Trainer Todd Pletcher scratched the colt from last week's Tremont Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Belmont Park, which was won by Heckle.
Regular jockey Robby Albarado will ride Limehouse, who will also pack 121 pounds and is listed as the 5-2 second choice in the Bashford Manor morning line.
The Texas-based Next Bandit, trained by Bret Calhoun, is a son of 1998 Bashford Manor winner Time Bandit who has fashioned his unbeaten record at Lone Star Park. He scored gate-to-wire wins in his two starts and will be ridden in his Churchill Downs debut by Eddie Martin, Jr.
Another major contender is Bustin' Out, a son of young sire Bianconi who is coming off a 5 1/4-length victory in a June 14 maiden race at Churchill Downs. Owned by Overbrook Farm, Bustin Out is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who has a record five victories in the historic race that was first run 1902.
Completing the field are a pair of horses that chased Cuvee in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup. Dreabon Copeland's runner-up First Money is a son of Lil's Lad trained by Bernie Flint. Exploit Lad, third in the race for owner Frank L. Jones, Jr., hails from the barn of Dale Romans, the leading trainer of the Spring Meet.
$125,000-added Bashford Manor (gr. III), 2 year-olds, 6 furlongs
Post/Horse (Weight), Jockey, ML Odds
1. Cuvee (121), Lonnie Meche. 1-1
2. Limehouse (121), Robby Albarado, 5-2
3. Bustin' Out (117), Cornelio Velasquez, 4-1
4. First Money (117), Dean Butler, 8-1
5. Exploit Lad (117), Shane Sellers, 15-1
6. Next Bandit (121), Eddie Martin, Jr., 8-1