May 26, 2024

Grade 1 winners clash in Modesty; Caravel imposing in Unbridled Sidney

Shantisara wins the Hillsborough Stakes (Photo by SV Photography)

Friday’s trio of grass stakes for females on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill Downs doesn’t quite have the star power as the dirt stakes, but the two most lucrative ones have come up highly contentious and bettable.

The best among them is the $300,000 Modesty (G3) for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles. The field of nine is headed by Grade 1 veteran Shantisara, who exits a sharp win in the Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs, which followed a second-place run in the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3) at Gulfstream.

Trainer Chad Brown also sends out McKulick, one of the leading three-year-old turf fillies in the nation last term when notching the Belmont Oaks (G1) and Saratoga Oaks (G3). The daughter of Frankel has not been out since finishing an odds-on second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) in October.

Argentinean import Didia is undefeated in three U.S. appearances dating back to July, including stakes wins at Colonial Downs and Fair Grounds. Another to watch out for is New Year’s Eve, who handed McKulick a 2 3/4-length defeat in the Edgewood (G2) over the course on Derby weekend last year.

The 2023 edition of the $500,000 Edgewood, for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, looks a wide-open affair with 11 entered. Papilio enters off a neck victory over Cairo Consort in the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland, in which Heavenly Sunset weakened to third after setting the pace.

French import Revalita finished close behind both Papilio and Cairo Consort in the Herecomesthebride (G3) in her U.S. debut March 4 and joins fellow Chad Brown trainees Preliminary, a debut winner at Gulfstream, and Liguria, last seen taking the Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar in December.

Others of note include Florida Oaks (G3) heroine Mission of Joy and Flashy Gem, runner-up to Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Botanical in the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park.

The one apparent stickout on the turf Friday is Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Caravel, the early 4-5 favorite in the $300,000 Unbridled Sidney S. at 5 1/2 furlongs. The six-year-old gray returns to restricted company after notching the Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland by a head against the boys in her season debut April 8.