Before the inaugural Gun Runner S. and Untapable S. for aspiring Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1) candidates, Fair Grounds will stage four stakes on the terrific Sunday, Dec. 26 card.
Blushing K. D. S. – Race 5 (3 p.m. ET)
The stakes action begins with the $75,000 Blushing K. D. S. for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 grassy miles. Dowager (G3) vixen Summer in Saratoga, who won the Tom Benson Memorial S. here in March, meets several coming out of the Nov. 25 Joseph R. Peluso Memorial – eye-catching third Bellagamba, a Group 1 winner in her native Argentina; More Than Unusual, fifth as the Peluso favorite; sixth Curly Ruth; and ninth Catch a Bid. Also worth a look is well-bred Advocating, third in the non-black-type George Rosenberger Memorial at Delaware in her only prior turf route stakes.
Richard R. Scherer Memorial – Race 7 (4:02 p.m. ET)
Just Might, who racked up his seventh career stakes win in the Thanksgiving Classic, switches back to turf for the $75,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial. His leading rivals in the 5 1/2-furlong dash are Jim McKay Turf Sprint hero Firecrow, William Walker winner Field Day, and comebacker Manny Wah, who beat Just Might in the Jan. 16 Duncan F. Kenner over this course and distance. Other contenders include multiple Grade 3-placed Lucky Curlin; multiple stakes-placed The Connector, most recently third in a Claiming Crown turf sprint; multiple stakes veteran Grinning Tiger, now with Steve Asmussen; and Thanksgiving Classic third Pyron.
Tenacious S. – Race 8 (4:33 p.m. ET)
In the $100,000 Tenacious S. at 1 1/16 miles, Godolphin’s multiple Grade 3 veteran Shared Sense squares off with New Orleans Classic (G2) winner Chess Chief and Major Fed. Shared Sense brings the best current form, exiting a third to Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) conqueror Knicks Go in the Oct. 2 Lukas Classic (G3).
Chess Chief, eighth in the Clark (G1) last out, hopes that a return to Fair Grounds will bring out the best in this horse-for-the-course. Major Fed has likewise tended to do well here, as evidenced by his runner-up effort in a division of the 2020 Risen Star (G2).
Happy American makes his stakes debut off back-to-back allowance scores at Churchill Downs, while blueblood Big Dreaming and Little Menace romped at Turfway in their latest. Pirate’s Punch has gone off form since his career high in last year’s Salvator Mile (G3).
Buddy Diliberto Memorial – Race 9 (5:04 p.m. ET)
Recent Sycamore (G3) winner Spooky Channel shortens up for the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Defending champion Logical Myth, sixth in the Nov. 27 Bob F. Wright Memorial off a 3 1/2-month layoff, renews rivalry with the respective top four – Another Mystery, millionaire Pixelate, Monarchs Glen, and Forty Under.
Synthetic specialist Halo Again takes his first grass test, and Cavalry Charge steps up in class after winning three of his last four in allowance company. Note that Tenacious contender Big Dreaming is cross-entered in this spot.