Allowance races showcase depth of Churchill Downs spring meet

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 27th, 2020

The second full week of the Churchill Downs spring meet kicks off Thursday, and the depth of fields through the first seven racing programs has been remarkable. With only 16 stakes scheduled over the 24-day meet, many lucrative allowance races have turned into stakes-caliber events.

Monomoy Girl, the 2018 champion 3-year-old filly, is the most distinguished allowance performer, returning from an 18-month vacation to post a convincing win over stakes-experienced rivals on the May 16 opening-day program. The June 27 Fleur de Lis (G2) could be next for the Brad Cox-trained mare.

Let’s take a look at some other highlights from Churchill allowance races:

Frank’s Rockette and Echo Town posted allowance wins on Monday’s 10-race Memorial Day program.

A two-time Grade 1 runner-up last year, Frank’s Rockette opened 2020 with a seven-length romp in the Any Limit S. at Gulfstream Park and finished second in the April 4 Purple Martin at Oaklawn Park six weeks later. The classy Bill Mott trainee rolled to a 3 1/2-length decision at Churchill Downs, and Frank’s Rockette will have major 3-year-old filly sprint engagements in New York on her schedule this summer. Suncoast S. runner-up Turtle Trax wound up second in the $83,000 allowance.

Echo Town will point toward the Woody Stephens (G1) on the June 20 Belmont Stakes undercard following his wire-to-wire triumph as the odds-on favorite, confirming himself as an up-and-coming player in the 3-year-old sprint division for Steve Asmussen. Now 3-for-5 overall, the son Speightstown was exiting a head second in his stakes debut, the April 25 Bachelor S. at Oaklawn Park. Stakes victor Meru, unraced since a second in the Nashua (G3) last November, offered a solid bid to just miss second in the 6-furlong allowance.

On Sunday, May 24, Sister Hanan scored as the odds-on choice in an $81,000 conditioned turf allowance. The 4-year-old filly was exiting a third in her first stakes outing, the Feb. 29 Honey Fox (G3) at Gulfstream, and she’s probably headed back to stakes competition for Ben Colebrook.

Along with five stakes on the Saturday, May 23 program, a Grade 3-type field was assembled for the 5th race, an $88,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Graded winners Spooky Channel, Hembree, Just Howard, English Bee, Doctor Mounty, Mr. Misunderstood, Made You Look, Real Story, and Caribou Club were all in the starting gate, and Spooky Channel rallied fastest of all to prevail at 8-1, edging stakes victor Parlor by a neck.

Casual can set her sights on the June 20 Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park following a sharp allowance tally at Churchill on May 22. A chestnut daughter of Curlin, Casual improved to 2-for-2 posting a 1 1/4-length decision in the 7-furlong test, and the Asmussen-trained sophomore filly has earned commendable 97-96 Brisnet Speed ratings.

German stakes queen Malakeh opened her 5-year-old season by taking a turf allowance on May 22, scoring as the 5-2 favorite, and she will head back to stakes competition for Graham Motion. Grade 3 winner Hard Legacy finished less than a length back in third in the $85,000 race.

A close second in the Mrs. Revere (G2) last fall, Dalika showed her versatility while returning from a five-month layoff on May 21, posting a two-length win in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint. The 4-year-old filly won at distances up to 1 1/8 miles last season, and Al Stall Jr. will have options for Dalika’s next stakes appearance.

Winner of the Commonwealth Turf (G3) last November, Mr Dumas improved to 3-for-3 over Churchill’s turf by taking an $85,000 allowance on May 21. Stakes victor Ritzy A.P., who placed in the Del Mar H. (G2) and Eddie Read (G2) last summer, returned off the bench to finish second. Grade 2 scorer Casa Creed and stakes-winning favorite Front Run the Fed were third and fourth, respectively.

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