Race Preview: Eight Belles Stakes - Churchill Downs, May 3, 2013

Matt Carter

April 30th, 2013

The lead up to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs is the Kentucky Oaks, but there are a lot of wagering opportunities in between the two major races. Over the next four days we will look at the Friday pick-4 at Churchill ending with the Oaks. First up is the Eight Belles Stakes.

The seven furlong Grade 3 race drew a full field of 14 and there are some top three-year-old fillies in the field, starting with the outside filly, Calistoga.

Calistoga did something that many Bill Mott trained horses don't do and that is win their debut. The Speightstown filly cruised in her debut then came back and blitzed allowance foes in early March. She has been given two months off after those big efforts and will get a nice stalking trip from the outside. She will need to step up her game if she is to defeat these fillies.

Fusaichiswonderful and Blueeyesintherein look like the main contenders to the favorite and coincidentally enough, drew next to each other in posts two and three. Fusaichiswonderful began her career in Puerto Rico winning all five of her starts. She then came to the U.S. and failed in her Gulfstream Park debut, but then showed the talent she showed south of the U.S. and won a small stakes race by almost six lengths. Blueeyesintherein is undefeated in three starts, two of them at Churchill Downs. She won the Grade 2 Debutante last November then took some time off and made a winning return at Oaklawn last month. Her running style fits the Eight Belles, which came up with a lot of early speed.

Two long shots to mention are Renee's Titan and Gold Medal Dancer, two closers that will be doing their best running late. Renee's Titan is 2-1-1-0 in dirt sprints, including a win over one of the Kentucky Oaks favorites, Beholder. Gold Medal Dancer is two-for-two for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. The last four years the winner of the Eight Belles has been an average of five and one-quarter lengths off the pace at the first call. These two fillies will definitely be at least that far back. A well timed ride will put them in the winners circle.

Post time for the Eight Belles is 3:02 ET. Tomorrow we will look at the Alysheba featuring Cyber Secret, Bourbon Courage and Take Charge Indy.