June 13, 2024

Shirl’s Speight faces Brown trio in Turf Classic

Shirl's Speight wins the Maker's Mark Mile (Photo by Coady Photography)

Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) — Race 11 (5:27 p.m. ET)

A rising star of the infield wars, Shirl’s Speight, has been made the early 3-1 favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Charles Fipke homebred enters off three straight victories, including a photo-finish tally in the April 15 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland.

Trainer Chad Brown has won or shared in victory in each of the past three runnings of the nine-furlong test. He sends out a trio in Saturday’s renewal, including Group 3 winner Adhamo, who missed by a head to longshot Cavalry Charge in his U.S. debut, the Feb. 19 Fair Grounds (G3).

Tribhuvan went sour for Brown late last season, but enjoyed excellent form earlier in the year when taking the Fort Marcy (G3) and United Nations (G1), which sandwiched a second-place effort in the Manhattan (G1). Brown also relies on multiple graded winner Public Sector, fourth when favored in the Hollywood Derby (G1) when last seen in November.

Grade 1 veteran Ivar makes his first run since finishing third to Yibir in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in November, while the progressive Santin adds blinkers following second-place efforts in the Hollywood Derby and Muniz Memorial (G2) in two of his past three.

Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) — Race 5 (12:36 p.m. ET)

Chad Brown is also well represented in the $500,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), which kicks off the Derby Day stakes action.

In Italian, who’s won three of four starts, including the Honey Fox (G3) in early March, will fly the stable colors alongside French import Speak of the Devil, a multiple stakes winner who narrowly missed in Group 1s like the French 1000 Guineas and Prix Rothschild over the past two seasons.

Other contenders include Wakanaka, second to In Italian in the Honey Fox last time, and recent Jenny Wiley (G1) third Lady Speightspeare.

American Turf S. (G2) — Race 9 (3:40 p.m. ET)

One of the more competitive stakes of the weekend is the $500,000 American Turf S. (G2) for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. There are no obvious standouts among the field of 11, but quite a few promising sorts.

Sy Dog was installed the mild 7-2 morning line favorite off a recent victory in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland, but bettors are also likely to give a long look to multiple graded-placed Portfolio Company, Singletary S. runner-up Balnikhov, and Cutler Bay S. winner Main Event.

Others with useful graded form include Royal Spirit, Stolen Base, and Coinage.