Saturday marks the kickoff to the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, with the Iroquois (G3) and Pocahontas (G2) being the main events on an 11-race program, but a couple of intriguing stakes races for distaffers will be offered on the undercard.
Mylady Curlin, a winner of five straight including three consecutive stakes, tops a field of nine entered in the $200,000 Locust Grove (G3) at 1 1/16 miles. One race earlier, Winning Colors (G3) heroine Honey Bunny and stakes winner Divine Queen highlight an eight-horse field in the $125,000 Open Mind at six furlongs.
Mylady Curlin captured a pair of allowance events before reeling off the Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3) at Pimlico, Mari Hulman George Memorial at Indiana Grand and Lady Jacqueline at Thistledown. The hard-hitting daughter of Curlin retains the services of Shaun Bridgmohan and is one of two in the field for Brad Cox.
Cox also sends out Iowa Distaff winner Moonlit Garden, who will try to bounce back after a third as the odds-on favorite in the August 11 Groupie Doll at Ellis Park. Florent Geroux rides the four-year-old filly. Other contenders include La Canada (G3) vixen and Delaware H. (G2) runner-up Escape Clause and Groupie Doll winner Go Google Yourself.
Honey Bunny and Divine Queen are horse-for-the-course specialists under the Twin Spires. Honey Bunny recorded a couple of impressive performances, including a 1 ½-length tally in the Winning Colors, before recording a fast-closing fourth behind Mia Mischief and Covfefe in the Roxelana during the spring/summer meet. Geroux rides for John Ortiz. Divine Queen enters with a three-for-four record at Churchill Downs, including a triumph in the 2018 Dogwood, and Calvin Borel has the call for Buff Bradley.
Inside Information (G2) winner America’s Tale, last seen finishing fourth in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland, and Roxelana runner-up Awestruck also merits respect in the Open Mind. Jose Ortiz and Irad Ortiz Jr. will pick up the mounts, respectively. Meadow Dance enters with a two-race win streak in tow for Cox and Winning Colors third-placer Upset Brewing add further depth to the competitive field.