Limousine Liberal is seeking a rebound while Union Jackson makes his stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs. And connections are hoping to use the 6-furlong race as a springboard toward a Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) berth this fall.
The Aristides drew seven horses, including last-out William Walker winner Toews on Ice from the Bob Baffert stable and Alsvid, who exits runner-up finishes in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) and Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3). But they’ll have to get past the two likely favorites.
Limousine Liberal captured his career bow at Churchill Downs last June before a runner-up finish to eventual champion sprinter Runhappy in the King’s Bishop (G1) two starts later. The Ben Colebrook trainee just missed with a neck second in the Gallant Bob (G3) before concluding his sophomore campaign with an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
The Successful Appeal gelding established a new track record at Keeneland when opening 2016 with an allowance tally at 6 ½ furlongs but didn’t fire his best when weakening to sixth in the Churchill Downs (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Limousine Liberal is eligible to show much more on Saturday with new jockey Corey Lanerie.
Union Jackson finished second at 12-1 when making his career debut under the Twin Spires last September and has been an odds-on favorite in five straight starts since, winning four times. Conditioned by Steve Asmussen, who also trained sire Curlin, the 4yo colt exits a 4 ½-length allowance romp at Keeneland and Union Jackson will finally test stakes competition. Ricardo Santana Jr. returns to the saddle aboard the promising sprinter.
Rounding out the field is Grade 3 victor Barbados, who will try to turn things around following a last-place effort in the aforementioned Churchill Downs; stakes runner-up Schivarelli, who will make his first start since August; and Fair Grounds allowance scorer Grande Basin.
Limousine Liberal photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography