Uni was the champion of the turf mare division last year, but through the first nine months of 2020 she’d be hard-pressed to crack the top three in the division from her own barn. Such is the strength of the Chad Brown stable.
On Saturday, Uni will look to right the ship in the $350,000 First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, a race she won with an incredible late burst a year ago by 2 1/2 lengths before repeating in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The First Lady, however, serves as a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Filly and Mare Turf (G1).
Uni’s patented late run has been lacking in two starts this term, though in her defense the pace in both the Just a Game (G1) and Fourstardave H. (G1) were much slower than what she took advantage off last season. Unfortunately for Uni, the primary speed of the First Lady is stablemate Newspaperofrecord, who won for fun in the Just a Game (G1) and is looking to rebound from an upset loss to Beau Recall in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2).
Besides Uni, another looking to reverse form is Daddy Is a Legend. The Grade 3 heroine was a strong second to Got Stormy in the Matriarch (G1) to close out 2019, but was a non-factor over soft ground at Ellis Park in her belated season debut and then fifth of six behind Beau Recall at Churchill most recently.
Trainer Chad Brown is, unsurprisingly, loaded as well in the the most lucrative grass race on the card, the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Prep for the Nov. 7 Mile.
Although fourth in this event two years ago when trying older horses for the first time, Analyze It redeemed himself with a strong third in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile and only recently returned to action following a 20-month absence with a facile score in the Sept. 5 Red Bank (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Raging Bull captured the Shoemaker Mile (G1) in May before a narrow loss in the course-and-distance Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) on July 10, but was only fifth last time to the emergent Halladay. Lower on the rung of Brown trainees, but capable in the right conditions, are recent Tourist Mile scorer Flavius and Group 1 veteran Without Parole.
Besides the dangerous speed of Halladay, South American import Ivar is also heading in the right direction and had a right to weaken late in the Tourist Mile after contributing to a torrid pace. Farther up the track in that Kentucky Downs feature was Parlor, who missed by a nose to War of Will as a 24-1 shot in the Maker’s Mark Mile the race before.
Others of note are Casa Creed, third in the Fourstardave behind Halladay and Got Stormy, and 2019 Shadwell Turf Mile winner Bowies Hero, who will be a much bigger price than the 8-1 available last year given the competition.
After taking the Shakertown (G2) in July with a late rally, Leinster will look to sweep Keeneland’s major turf sprints this season in the $150,000 Woodford Stakes (G2) over 5 1/2 furlongs. Among those joining Leinster are Chaos Theory, who enters off a strong win in the Green Flash H. (G3) at Del Mar, plus divisional mainstays Extravagant Kid, Fast Boat, and Just Might.