March 3, 2024

Sophomores the focus in four Churchill stakes

Taxed rolled to a new career high in the Black-Eyed Susan (Photo by Jim Duley/Maryland Jockey Club)

Four stakes will be held at Churchill Downs on Saturday, nominally headed by the $300,000 Dogwood (G3) for three-year-old fillies over seven furlongs.

The least exposed of the nine fillies in the Dogwood figure to attract the most attention. The Dallas Stewart-trained Alexa Lou makes her stakes debut with a 2-for-3 record, including a narrow allowance win at Ellis Park on Aug. 26 following a layoff of more than nine months. Alexa Lou is a daughter of Speightstown and out of a full sister to Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra.

Yesternight has won two of four starts for Lindsay Schultz, and was most recently second in the Cathryn Sophia S. at Parx where she failed to stay the one mile and 70 yards. The cutback in distance figures to be to her benefit.

The speedy Lady Radler was a convincing winner of the Goldfinch S. at Prairie Meadows in her last start on dirt, while stakes veteran Twice as Sweet enjoyed good summer form at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Ellis.

A more high-profile sophomore filly competing on the card is Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner Taxed, who will look to get back on the winning track in the $175,000 Seneca Overnight S. over 1 1/16 miles. Following her win at Pimlico, Taxed finished second to Defining Purpose in a too-short Indiana Oaks (G3) and then was placed sixth in a dull performance over 1 1/4 miles in the Alabama (G1), a race in which she generated considerable pre-race interest from bettors.

Fun and Feisty will look to rediscover the form that carried her to an impressive win in the 2022 Pocahontas (G3), while Godolphin homebred Poblano looks a threat coming off a belated 9 1/4-length maiden win at Ellis in her third career start.

Trainer Brad Cox has two serious contenders in the $300,000 Bourbon Trail S. for three-year-olds over 1 3/16 miles. Slip Mahoney enters off a head loss in the St. Louis Derby over a muddy strip, while Manciata d’Oro will get his first serious class test after starting his career 3-for-3 in Indiana.

Big Data comes in off a victory in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, while Oscar Eclipse recently defeated allowance foes at Ellis by nearly seven lengths. The wild card in the field is Shirl’s Bee, who returns from a seven-month spell having finished first and second in two starts last winter in Dubai. The latter was a runner-up finish in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3).

The $300,000 Harrods Creek S., a seven-furlong dash for three-year-olds, features the progressive Saratoga allowance scorers Everso Mischievous and Mount Up. Ellis Park Derby third Loyal Company and Bouncer are other potential win candidates.