The trail to the 2011 Kentucky Derby opens Saturday with the 109th running of the 6-furlong $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Six of the past 11 editions of the Bashford Manor Stakes have been won by descendents of the Mr. Prospector sire line. Of the six juveniles entered in the Bashford Manor, four of them are descendents of Mr. Prospector: Gold For Cash, Saturday Dance, Lou Brissie and Thewayitusedtobe. Speed Demon and Kantharos are descendents of the Northern Dancer sire line.
Trainer Steve Asmussen hopes to claim his third Bashford Manor win with the 6-5 morning line favorite Kantharos. Amusssen previously won the Bashford Manor with Kodiak Kowboy in 2007 and Lunarpal in 2004.
With only one start to his credit, Kantharos comes into the race with an impressive 11 ¾ - length romp in the slop at Churchill Downs last May. Jockey Robby Albarado guided Kantharos to his maiden win and retains the mount.
Trainer Neil Howard’s Lou Brissie is the 7-5 morning line second-choice and should be tough in this spot. Undefeated in two starts, Lou Brissie comes into the race with a 1 ½ -length win in the 5-furlong Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (G3), earning a 99 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort.
Coincidentally, Limehouse, the sire of Lou Brissie, was also undefeated in two starts when he won the 2003 Bashford Manor Stakes by 4 ½ lengths with Albarado in the saddle. Albarado was also aboard Lou Brissie when he broke his maiden in April but he opted to ride Kantharos in today’s race. Corey Lanerie, who guided Kodiak Kowboy to his Bashford Manor win, will get the mount on Lou Brissie.
A couple of long shots that could add some spice to the exotics are Thewayitusedtobe (15-1) and Saturday Dance (15-1).
Trainer Rafael Flores ships Thewayitusedtobe in from a 3-length maiden win at Arlington Park on June 4. Sunday Break, the sire of Thewayitusedtobe, stands at stud in France and is the sire of Never On Sunday – a multiple group winner in France. The damsire, Double Honor, finished second to speedster Favorite Trick in the 1997 Bashford Manor Stakes.
I like the progression of Saturday Dance who comes into the Bashford Manor with a third-place finish at Keeneland in April and a second-place finish at Churchill Downs on June 19. In his last race, Saturday Dance was 5 ½ lengths back in fourth place going into the stretch and closed ground nicely to finish second – beaten 2 ½ lengths by Blue Right By.
With Roman Ruler as his sire and Lemon Drop Kid as the damsire, it’s only a matter of time before Saturday Dance breaks his maiden. Saturday Dance should like the added distance and with some racing luck he could be competitive in the Bashford Manor.