Secret Status and Saudi Poetry will continue their rivalry in Saturday's 27th running of the $300,000-added, Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. The pair last tangled in the grade II Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap on Kentucky Oaks Day 2001, where Saudi Poetry pulled the upset and Secret Status finished two lengths back in sixth.
Secret Status, a homebred daughter of A.P. Indy owned by William S. Farish, James Elkins, and Temple Webber, Jr., won the Mother Goose (gr. I) along with the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at three.
Trainer Neil Howard believes her flat effort came about because Secret Status did not have enough time to rest between a sharp allowance win at Keeneland on April 13 and her setback on May 4.
Saudi Poetry, $1.7-million yearling purchase by The Thoroughbred Corp. of Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia scored her first graded stakes victory for trainer Bob Baffert in her 14-1 upset in the Louisville Breeders' Cup.
Other major contenders in the Fleur de Lis include Bordelaise, the 3-1 second choice in the morning line who upset Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Spain in November's Falls City (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, and Dreams Gallore, the runner-up in the 1999 Kentucky Oaks and winner of that year's Mother Goose (gr. I). The latter will be coupled in an entry with On A Soapbox as both horses are owned by Gary Tanaka.
The field for the Fleur de Lis, in post position order, includes: Maltese Superb, 111, Lonnie Meche; Dreams Gallore, 113, Donnie Meche; On A Soapbox, 112, Larry Melancon; Royal Fair, 113, Calvin Borel; Saudi Poetry, 114, Espinoza; Forgiving Monarch, 109, Jon Court; Bordelaise, 115, Jerry Bailey; Asher, 112, Robby Albarado; and Secret Status, 119, Pat Day.