Racing returns beneath the Twin Spires on Saturday as Churchill Downs begins a 26-day Spring Meet like no other.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay from its original opening day, April 25, along with the postponement of the meet’s iconic race – the Kentucky Derby (G1) – from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September. To receive clearance from state officials to conduct racing, the track had to develop strict protocols to combat spread of the coronavirus, including a no-spectators policy.
The Churchill backstretch just reopened Monday, but only for shippers from Fair Grounds. Among the trainers with horses settling in are Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Tom Amoss, and Al Stall.
The first weekend of racing will have a New Orleans plus Florida flavor, for horses who have been based in the Sunshine State are permitted to arrive Thursday through Saturday. Oaklawn horses are allowed onto the grounds starting Sunday. Finally, those coming from elsewhere in Kentucky and all other locales can be stabled as of May 20.
Highlighting the opening day card is the comeback of champion Monomoy Girl in a mile allowance, while Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner Four Wheel Drive might make an allowance appearance Sunday.
The first five stakes are all set for May 23, anchored by the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3) that now offers Kentucky Derby points on a 50-20-10-5 scale. Unbeaten Maxfield, Mr. Big News, and Major Fed are among the probables. The $100,000 Tepin is expected to attract Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Sharing.
A pair of Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” events highlight the June 27 closing day card. The $500,000 Stephen Foster (G2) furnishes an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (G2) is the corresponding Challenge race for the Distaff (G1).
Entries for the Saturday opener will be drawn Tuesday. Post time is 1 p.m. (ET) daily.
Churchill Downs At a Glance November 25
Take a look at how the Churchill Downs meet concluded in fall, for the full charts see this At a Glance Report on Brisnet.com.
- Avg. Winning Odds: 5.66 – 1
- Favorite Win%: 29%
- Favorite Itm%: 62%
|Pick 6 Jackpot||98,592.00|
|Super High Five||8,873.48|
Who’s HOT, Who’s NOT
Hot Trains and Jockeys to watch while racing returns this spring to Churchill Downs. Find the full list of cold Trainers and Jockeys on Brisnet.com.
|Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Odds||Winning Favorites||’18-‘ 19|
|Demeritte, Larry W.||4||2||1||0||10.38||0||13%|
|Desormeaux, J. Keith||5||2||1||1||10.28||1||14%|
|Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Ods||Winning Favorites||’18-‘ 19|
|Leparoux, Julien R.||20||8||2||3||4.53||3||15%|