Not to be outdone by the boys in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on June 15, a quality-laden field including four grade I-winning fillies and mares take a shot at $300,000 in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) earlier on the card. Also on tap is the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $100,000 Northern Dancer Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile.
Heading the field for the Fleur de Lis is 121-pound highweight Spain, who became North America's all-time leading money-earning female after winning the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on Kentucky Derby weekend. Owned by Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp. and trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Spain earned $207,204 for her Louisville Breeders' Cup win on May 3, lifting her career mark to $3,304,244. The previous mark had been held by another Lukas-trained filly, Serena's Song, who earned $3,283,388.
Winner of the 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, Spain has won eight of 33 career starts. She's one-for-five this year, having placed in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) prior to her Louisville victory. The 5-year-old Spain, by Thunder Gulch, will be ridden by Jorge Chavez and break from post 4 in the eight-horse field.
Second in the weights at 119 is Sam-Son Farm's Dancethruthedawn, an impressive winner at Keeneland in her 2002 debut and a hard-luck second in her last start, a nose decision to Summer Colony in the Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap (gr. III). By Mr. Prospector out of champion and Broodmare of the Year Dance Smartly, Dancethruthedawn was champion 3-year-old filly in Canada last year off her victory over the boys in the Queen's Plate. Breaking from the rail, Dancethruthedawn is trained by Mark Frostad who has named Jerry Bailey to ride.
Forest Secrets and Pompeii are the other grade I winners appearing in the Fleur de Lis. A winner of the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont last year, Forest Secrets is one-for-three in 2002, winning the Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. Owned by Debby Oxley and trained by John Ward, Forest Secrets will tote 118 pounds and will be ridden by Pat Day. A 4-year-old by Forest Wildcat, Forest Secret finished fifth behind Spain in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last start. Pompeii, a WinStar Farm runner trained by Elliott Walden, won the Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga last August. In two starts this year, the Broad Brush mare finished fourth in the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Sportsman's Park and won a $62,400 allowance at Churchill Downs on May 26.
With Ability, the runaway winner of the Sixty Sails, carries 117 in the Fleur de Lis. The Edward Evans homebred also won the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct earlier this year.
Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II), $300,000, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares
PP Horse Weight Rider
1 Dancethruthedawn 119 Jerry Bailey
2 Minister's Baby 113 Jon Court
3 Forest Secrets 118 Pat Day
4 Spain 121 Jorge Chavez
5 With Ability 117 Javier Castellano
6 Gal On the Go 113 Craig Perret
7 Pompeii 117 Larry Melancon
8 Happily Unbridled 113 Larry Melancon
Team Valor and Dream With Me Stable's Stylestick, winner of the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 19, is the one to beat in the Regret Stakes. The daughter of Storm Cat won the Green River Stakes at Keeneland last year at two.
Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT), $150,000, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3-year-old fillies
PP Horse Rider
1 Peace River Lady Craig Perret
2 Personify Mark Guidry
3 Stylestick Pat Day
4 Trixie Wac Calvin Borel
5 Traci's Wild Jorge Chavez
6 Avec Toi Brice Blanc
7 Calzada Kid Lonnie Meche
8 Kathy KD Larry Melancon
9 Distant Valley Jerry Bailey
Danthebluegrassman, who made headlines by being a surprise entrant for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and then being scratched, makes his first start since an off-the-board effort in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in the Northern Dancer. It's no easy spot. Sky Terrace, winner of the one-mile Derby Trial (gr. III) is entered as is Stephentown, an impressive winner at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. One to watch is Shah Jehan, runner-up in his last start, the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico, to a nice, up-and-coming horse by the name of Sarava.
Northern Dancer Stakes, $100,000, 3-year-olds, one mile
PP Horse Rider
1 Stephentown Pat Day
2 Saturday Hero Willie Martinez
3 Folkestone Park Mark Guidry
4 Danthebluegrassman Jerry Bailey
5 Shah Jehan Jorge Chavez
6 Sky Terrace Craig Perret
7 Ide Be Spencers Jon Court