July 4, 2022

Finley’sluckycharm seeks return to the winner’s circle in Thoroughbred Club of America

Finley'sluckycharm wins the Chicago Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 24, 2017, with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Saturday’s $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) at Keeneland is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, offering up a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) gate on November 4 at Del Mar, and Finley’sluckycharm will attempt to take full advantage of that all-fees paid slot.

The Bret Calhoun-trained four-year-old hasn’t competed much this year, showing only four starts, but captured three of those and just missed by a neck in her most recent effort. Finley’sluckycharm closed out her sophomore campaign in December with a half-length second in the La Brea Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park but didn’t reappear until showing up at Churchill Downs in April for a three-quarter length score in the Roxelana Stakes.

The Twirling Candy four-year-old followed her season-opening win with a 5 1/2-length victory in the Winning Colors Stakes (G3) and 2 1/4-length score in the Chicago Handicap (G3), also both at Churchill. Finley’sluckycharm shipped to Saratoga in her last outing and just missed by a neck on the wire of the Honorable Miss Handicap (G3) over a good track. The Kentucky-bred lass will attempt to rebound here under regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr.

Seven other distaffers stand in the way of Finley’sluckycharm and the winner’s circle, including Vertical Oak. That Steve Asmussen charge boasts an 8-3-1-1 record this season, including a last-out 5 1/4-length romp in the Prioress Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on September 3.

The Giant Oak sophomore is nigh unbeatable when she’s on her game, but is known to throw in subpar efforts as well, such as her fifth in the Test Stakes (G1) two back. Vertical Oak will be tough to deny if she’s on form, and gets Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons for this bout.

The lightly raced Bendable has yet to finish worse than third in her seven-race career for trainer Richard Mandella, even filling that spot in last year’s edition of this contest. That was the Horse Greeley four-year-old’s final race of 2016, and she’s returned to take the Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) and finish third in the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) in her only two starts this season. Javier Castellano has the call.

I’m a Looker also ran in last year’s Thoroughbred Club of America, finishing three parts of a length behind Bendable in fourth. The Henny Hughes five-year-old dead-heated for the win in the 2016 Winning Colors Stakes (G3) and closed out that campaign with a subpar seventh behind Finley’sluckycharm in the Dream Supreme Stakes on November 25.

That was also I’m a Looker’s final start for trainer Pat Dupuy, and thus far this season she’s run second in both the Saylorville Stakes and West Virginia Secretary of State Stakes for conditioner Brad Cox. Corey Lanerie, aboard for both those races, retains the mount.

Grace’s Treasure and Chalon complete the Thoroughbred Club of America field. The former earned her first stakes win via disqualification last out in the Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs. Chalon captured the Jersey Girl Stakes at Saratoga by 6 1/2 lengths, ran fourth in the Test and finished third in the Beverly J. Lewis Stakes in her past three.