Bashford Manor, Debutante highlight finale of Churchill spring meet

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 29th, 2016

The sun will set, literally and figuratively, on the Churchill Downs Spring Meet Saturday as the final session of racing at the Louisville track until September will be contested under the lights.

Barring a hit on Thursday or Friday, the possibility of a mandatory payout in the Single Six figures to keep bettors up late and the money flowing Saturday night. In addition to that financial attraction, the "Downs After Dark" program features two traditional stakes for juveniles, the $100,000 Bashford Manor (G3) and the $100,000 Debutante, both over six furlongs.

All but one of the nine Bashford Manor hopefuls exit maiden wins. The Steve Asmussen-trained Tip Tap Tapizar might prove the quickest of the bunch following a 3 1/4-length score going five panels on June 11, though Recruiting Ready was even more visually impressive graduating at Pimlico by more than 10 lengths in late May. Others with early speed are U S Officer, a three-length debut winner at Lone Star, and the Illinois-bred Riv, who won comfortably by more than four lengths against open company at Arlington.

Expected to make late moves are Capt. Grider, who was up in time to win on debut at Keeneland two months ago, and Classic Empire, a Mark Casse-trained son of Pioneerof the Nile that relished the slop Derby Week.

The Debutante, for fillies, is similarly wide open. Country Candy invades from Lone Start after a 9 1/2-length win going 4 1/2 furlongs, but waiting for her will be local maiden breakers Maximum Edge, Tricky One, Pretty City Dancer, and Like a Hurricane. China Grove and Anna's Bandit, graduates at Keeneland and Laurel, respectively, both exit placings in the $197,000 Astoria at Belmont.

The final stakes of the evening will be the $67,000 Kelly's Landing, a seven-furlong dash for older horses that features recent Aristides (G3) winner Alsvid and Island Town, who makes his belated four-year-old debut after capturing the Matt Winn (G3) and Smarty Jones (G3) last term.

(Coady Photography)