Winchell Thoroughbreds' Cuvee, a dazzling 6 1/2-length winner in his career debut at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, heads a field of six in the 5 1/2-furlong Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) Monday, the first graded stakes race of the year for American 2-year-olds. The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Carson City has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the $150,000 Churchill Downs feature. The Kentucky Breeders' Cup heads a 10-race Memorial Day card at Churchill Downs.
Asmussen currently ranks second in victories and third in earnings among U.S. trainers and the talented Cuvee figures to add significantly to those totals before the year is up. Asmussen expects the colt to do well in his first race in stakes company.
"We have quite a few 2-year-olds and he's the best of them, so definitely he's ahead of a decent lot already," Asmussen said. "He's a very professional young horse and takes everything extremely well."
Asmussen won the Kentucky Breeders' Cup last year with Heiligbrodt Racing's Posse, who won Churchill Downs' Matt Winn on May 10 and ranks among America's finest 3-year-old sprinters. "He's comparable to Posse -- he's just like that," said Asmussen. "Posse's a very talented horse who took everything in stride and we're along those same lines with Cuvee."
Asmussen's colt will be ridden by Lonnie Meche. All six entrants will carry 117 pounds.
Cuvee will not have to face any of the top three finishers from the Three Chimneys Juvenile, the Derby Day race that is Churchill Downs' first stakes race of the year for 2-year-olds. But his opposition includes Frank L. Jones, Jr's, Exploit Lad, a son of first-year sire Exploit who scored his first career victory in a five-furlong race at Churchill Downs on April 27. The colt is trained by Dale Romans and will be ridden by Jason Lumpkins.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will seek a record third Kentucky Breeders' Cup victory with Robert and Beverly Lewis Voladero, a winner in his lone start at Arlington Park.
The field includes a pair of supplemental entries: Keith Fayard's Toin and Boin and Dreabon Copeland's First Money. Both horses won their career debuts at Churchill Downs.
$150,000 Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III), 2-year-olds, 5 1/2 furlongs
Post/Horse (Weight) Jockey ML Odds
1. Voladero (117), Cornelio Velasquez, 5-1
2. Exploit Lad (117), Jason Lumpkins, 10-1
3. Another Freddy (117), Nathan Solomon, 10-1
4. First Money - s (117), Lonnie Meche, 7-2
5. Toin And Boin - s (117), Craig Perret, 5-2
6. Cuvee (117), Lonnie Meche, 7-5
s -- supplemental entry