09/12/2013 1:16PM

Churchill Downs: Devious Intent targets another favorite

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Last month at Ellis Park, Devious Intent upset heavily favored Groupie Doll in winning the Grade 3 Gardenia, with the comebacking Groupie Doll beaten a length in third.

Saturday, matched against five rivals in the $100,000, six-furlong Open Mind at Churchill Downs, Devious Intent aims for another upset, this time of likely favorite Burban, a Churchill Downs track specialist with 4-for-7 local record.

The task is again challenging, though Burban is not a champion like Groupie Doll. Unlike Groupie Doll, who hadn’t raced all year, Burban has been active in 2013, most recently finishing fifth behind some of the nation’s top female sprinters in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss on July 29 at Saratoga.

Devious Intent, on the board in five of six races this year, could still make a race of the Open Mind, being in the best form of her career. Besides her Gardenia triumph, she had previously closed to be second in the six-furlong Saylorville Stakes on June 28 at Prairie Meadows behind the classy Livi Makenzie after an awkward start.

“She seems like she’s pretty effective anywhere from six furlongs to a mile,” trainer Kellyn Gorder said. “I can’t really say what her best distance is. I felt she ran well when we ran her in Iowa.”

Devious Intent shows a favorable speed-figure pattern leading into the Open Mind, having run a career-best 92 Beyer in the Saylorville and then essentially matching that top with a 90 in the Gardenia.

Roberto Morales retains the mount on Devious Intent, a 4-year-old daughter of Dixie Union owned by TK Stables.

In addition to returning to her favorite racetrack, Burban has other factors in her favor. A front-runner, she faces a field largely void of short-distance speed, and even if a rival flashes unexpected quickness early, her draw on the outside in post 6 leaves her in position to sit just off the pace if needed under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Sweet Cassiopeia, one of four other stakes winners, was cross-entered against males in the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash on Saturday, but her trainer, Bill Connelly, said Thursday he was leaning toward running her in the Open Mind.

Football at the track

The annual in-state rivalry football game between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky is widely expected to lower ontrack attendance Saturday afternoon. Hoping to partially offset that loss, Churchill Downs is planning an ontrack “Big Game Watch Party,” televising the game on a 16-foot-by-20-foot screen and offering drink specials.