An overflow field of 15 has been entered to go 1 1/8 miles on the turf at Churchill Downs Thursday in the Thanksgiving Day co-feature, the $100,000 River City Handicap (G3).
Shotgun Kowboy has racked up five stakes wins during his four years on track, including the 2015 Oklahoma Derby (G3), and the hard-knocking gelding goes here off a 5 1/4-length victory in the Oklahoma Classics Cup at Remington Park on October 20. Bred, owned and trained by C. R. Trout, the five-year-old dark bay will be making his Churchill debut but gets James Graham in the irons as he tries for a second straight stakes score.
A number in this field have already faced off this year, including Applicator, War Correspondent, Kasaqui, Thatcher Street and Coco Mon.
Thatcher Street is the defending champion of the River City, having captured last year’s running by a half-length for trainer Ian Wilkes. The six-year-old gelding hasn’t found the winner’s circle in six starts since, but there’s no doubt of his love for Churchill (9-4-2-2). His only unplaced run under the Twin Spires came when seventh in the June 17 Wise Dan Stakes (G2), but he rebounded in his last pair with a head second in the Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs and a third-placing in a Keeneland allowance. Chris Landeros was aboard for both of those and retains the mount.
Kasaqui has recorded three wins from 16 starts in the United States since shipping up from South America, and one of those three came over Churchill’s turf in the Wise Dan. The seven-year-old gray is not a model of consistency, doing well for a few starts before throwing in a subpar effort. He followed the Wise Dan with a nice third in the Arlington Handicap (G3) but finished ninth, though only beaten 3 1/4 lengths, in the Arlington Million (G1) next out. He missed by a neck in that top-level race last year, and enters the River City off a fourth behind Coco Mon in an allowance at Keeneland on October 26. Ricardo Santana Jr. will be aboard for the first time Thursday.
Applicator goes here off a head second in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer over the course on November 12. Prior to that, the Mikhail Yanakov-trained gelding was well-beaten in an allowance and the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), both at Keeneland. The four-year-old captured the Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs and was a close third in the Les Ahrens Memorial at Arlington Park before those two lackluster efforts, and gets Calvin Borel in the irons for this go around.
War Correspondent, third in the 2015 and 2017 editions of the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), skipped the summer months entirely this year. After taking Gulfstream’s Miami Mile Stakes (G3) by a length over Applicator on April 29, the Christophe Clement-conditioned seven-year-old wouldn’t be seen in competition again until finishing third last out in the Presque Isle Mile Stakes on September 17. Julien Leparoux has the call here.
Coco Mon ran sixth in the 2016 River City but beat Thatcher Street last out by 4 3/4 lengths and a neck in an allowance at Keeneland on October 26. Brazilian Group 1 winner Some in Tieme drew off for a three-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile Louisville Handicap (G3) two back over the course. Multiple Grade 1-placed stakes scorer Shining Copper was third in the Tourist Mile behind Applicator but turned around and wired an allowance at Keeneland by 3 1/4 lengths last out. Brazilian Group 1 hero Vettori Kin makes his U.S. debut in this contest. Any one of these could pull off the win on Thursday.
Completing the River City field are Grade 3 runner-up Team Colors, lightly raced four-year-old Turf Titan, Zulu Alpha, Christian C and Revved Up. Recent maiden winner Gostisbehere needs a defection to draw in from the also-eligible list.