Dueling Grounds Derby — Race 10 (6:25 p.m. ET)
Du Jour and Cellist both earned minor checks in the Belmont Derby (G1) and Saratoga Derby (G1), which were dominated by European invaders, earlier this summer. However, those colts will be facing only domestic rivals in the lucrative $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby, the opening-day feature at the six-day, all-turf meeting at Kentucky Downs on Sunday.
American Turf (G2) winner Du Jour checked in fourth in the July 10 Belmont Derby, one position behind Cellist, who had a three-quarters of a length margin on Du Jour. In the Aug. 7 Saratoga Derby, Cellist weakened to sixth after setting the pace, with third-place Du Jour out-finishing Cellist by three parts of a length.
Cellist, who captured the Audubon S. at Churchill Downs in late May, has a difficult task ahead as he’ll be asked to stay the 1 5/16 miles, longer than either of the New York races. His chances could also be hindered by the presence of Modern Science, another speed horses who narrowly missed in both the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury and the Dueling Grounds Derby Preview at Ellis Park.
Also exiting the two New York stakes is Palazzi, who finished closer to midpack in both. Yes This Time contested only the Saratoga Derby of the two, but was pinched back at the start and never got involved. However, the Kelly Breen trainee captured the Kent (G3) and English Channel S. in his prior two outings.
Royal Prince and Accredit weren’t beaten much in the stakes prep at Ellis, while Last Samurai is an intruging entry following a last-out allowance win on the grass at Colonial Downs.
The companion stakes for three-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks at 1 5/16 miles, features a rematch of Core Values, Adventuring, and Oliviaofthedesert, who occupied three of the top four slots in the Dueling Grounds Oaks Preview at Ellis Park last month.