Churchill Downs Spring Meet opening day draws 162 entries.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Horses are back at Churchill Downs and they are ready to run. Saturday’s Opening Day program of the 2020 Spring Meet has an average field size of 11.3 horses for the action-packed 11-race program, which includes the return of champion Monomoy Girl in the featured fourth race, a conditioned allowance event at one-mile on the main track with a purse of $85,000. “It’s been a long time coming but we are thrilled for (Monomoy Girl) to return to the races,” trainer Brad Cox said. “She’s been working great down at Keeneland since late March and we’re looking forward to this first step back.”
Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl has been on the sidelines since September after dealing with a minor hamstring pull and a bout of colic. Monomoy Girl capped her brilliant 3-year-old campaign with victories in the 2018 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI). She will be reunited with her regular pilot Florent Geroux for Saturday’s contest from post No. 2. Geroux has been aboard Monomoy Girl for her last three works at Keeneland including a swift five-furlong move in :59.40 last Saturday. First post Saturday is 1 p.m. (all times Eastern), with Race 4 headed to the gate at 2:32 p.m.
Some of racing’s biggest stars have aligned for the Spring Meet which includes many of the nation’s top jockeys led by Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez. Those jockeys will join several of Churchill Downs’ household names on Saturday’s card including Tyler Gaffalione, Geroux, James Graham, Brian Hernandez Jr., Chris Landeros, Julien Leparoux, Miguel Mena, Ricardo Santana Jr., and, of course, defending Spring Meet leading rider Corey Lanerie.
Other jockeys joining the fray are Rafael Bejarano, Manny Franco, Mitchell Murrill and Joe Talamo. A total of 47 jockeys are listed in Book 1 of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet Condition Book. Others include Irad Ortiz, Luiz Saez, Mike Smith and Drayden Van Dyke. The entire list of jockeys can be found on page 63 of the condition book: RACE 1003_Spring 2020 Condition Book 1_ForWeb_5-11-20.pdf.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is poised to defend his 2019 Spring Meet Leading Trainer title but several new names have been allotted stalls for the entirety of the Spring Meet including Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainers Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher. Other new names stabled at Churchill Downs include Jerry Hollendorfer and John Sadler.
The overnight for Saturday’s card will be uploaded to the following link on Tuesday afternoon: https://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/racing/overnights/. There were 124 horses that were entered in the body of each race with 38 on the also eligible list.
Churchill Downs Barns Are Filling Up
More than 320 horses have arrived on the backstretch of Churchill Downs and its adjacent property Trackside Louisville as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave.
Wednesday will mark the first day of ship-ins from Florida with approximately 500 horses expected to arrive over the next three days. Trainers such as Rusty Arnold, Chad Brown, Dale Romans and Ian Wilkes are all expected to arrive in the next three days.
The first day of training will begin on Wednesday at 5:30 a.m.
Churchill Downs Press Release
Photo: Jockey Florent Geroux celebrates Monomoy Girl’s victory in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks. Credit: Churchill Downs