David Jacobson and Southern Equine Stable's 6-year-old gelded son of Salute the Sarge, winner in his most recent start of the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (gr. I) April 9 at Aqueduct, will face top West Coast sprinter Kobe's Back, who has won two graded stakes this year and is closing in on a million dollars in earnings.
Salutos Amigos, already a millionaire with more than $1.54 million in earnings, has been more at home in New York since shipping back east from California where he finished second Feb. 7 to Kobe's Back by a half-length in the six-furlong Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II). In his first start back at Aqueduct, he won the grade III Tom Fool Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths. In the Carter, he eked out a win by a head over Calculator, who has also been entered in the Churchill Downs Stakes. Cornelio Velasquez, who rode Salutos Amigos in the Carter, is back on board and will leave from post eight.
Also expected to draw support from bettors is Katherine Ball's grade I-placed Limousine Liberal, who is trained by Ben Colebrook. Limousine Liberal established a Keeneland track record for 6 1/2 furlongs in his 2016 debut April 9. Last year, he finished second in the NYRA.com King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I), which is run at the same distance as the Churchill Down Stakes. Luis Saez has the mount and will break from post five.
The field for the Churchill Downs, with riders and weights from the inside, is: Kobe's Back (Gary Stevens, 120 pounds), Squadron A (Corey Lanerie, 118), Calculator (Junior Alvarado, 118), Barbados (Florent Geroux, 118), Limousine Liberal (Saez, 118), Speightster (Jose Lezcano, 118), Holy Boss (Ricardo Santana Jr., 118), Salutos Amigos (Velasquez, 123) and Catalina Red (Javier Castellano, 118).