How to bet the 2023 Cardinal Stakes

November 22nd, 2023

A field of seven fillies and mares will run nine furlongs on the Churchill Downs lawn in Thursday’s $300,000 Cardinal S. (G3). The Chad Brown-trained #7 Saffron Moon (2-1) has won three of her four lifetime tries on the turf including a fine allowance victory at Keeneland last time out. By Malibu Moon, the filly has had a difficult time stringing races together leading up to this spot, but she seems poised for a stakes breakthrough in her black-type debut. 

Cardinal Wagers:

$30 Win #7 Saffron Moon ($30)
$5 exacta key box 7 with 3,4 ($20)
$1 superfecta 7 with 3,4 with 2,3,4 with all ($16)

Saffron Moon has good tactical speed combined with a strong turn of foot, and drawing outside in the field seems ideal for the Kentucky-bred. Tyler Gaffalione inherits the ride atop the four-year-old. 

2022 Regret S. (G3) heroine #4 Walkathon (4-1) has raced herself back into shape with two tries off the long absence and figures to peak on this occasion. Twirling Candy four-year-old was perfect from three turf tries in 2022 and has shown improvement in a pair of outings this campaign for conditioner Ian Wilkes. If the filly stays in touch in the early going, then she will be dangerous in the lane with Julien Leparoux in the stirrups. 

#3 Lovely Princess (3-1), also by Twirling Candy, has never been worse than fourth on the turf and is a top-three must use in the affair. The dark bay Kentucky-bred owns a trio of stakes placings from five outings in 2023 including a clear second in the Keertana S. on the course in May. She possesses positional speed and dons a 3-2-1-0 mark at the distance, as well. Regular pilot Brian Hernandez Jr. will be in the silks atop the obvious contender. 

Euro import #2 Star Fortress (12-1) doesn’t appear to have a lot of form leading up to her U.S. debut for trainer Cherie DeVaux, but the Sea the Stars filly could be one to consider for the exotics at a nice price. The four-year-old will cut back in distance for her third run of the year, and I like that Luis Saez will be in the silks. She will be included in the lower rungs of the gimmicks.