05/12/2011 12:39PM

Churchill Downs: Plenty of contenders, speed in Unbridled Sidney Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Well Deserved figures to be a strong contender in Saturday's Unbridled Sidney at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The favorite in the feature race last Saturday at Churchill Downs went off at 5-1. That might not be quite the case this Saturday, when a somewhat less prominent feature, the $63,000 Unbridled Sidney, is run at Churchill, but the depth and competitiveness of the five-furlong turf race suggests there is wagering value to be had.

Eleven filly-mare turf sprinters will follow the 137th Kentucky Derby by one week in a dimmer Churchill spotlight, and the only sure thing is that there is no standout. From Little Polka Dot in post 1 to Well Deserved in post 11, the field comes very well matched, with another half-dozen or so in between owning the right kind of credentials.

Well Deserved, off a sharp victory in a Keeneland allowance, looks as good as any. After shifting base from Southern California, the fleet filly showed a willingness to be rated from just off the pace, a tactic that could serve her well when breaking from the outside post Saturday in a speed-laden lineup.

“She ran just like she trained,” trainer Ronan Cunningham said. “It was an encouraging race. Hopefully, it sets us up for another big one at Churchill.”

Jesus Castanon, who guided front-running Shackleford to a fourth-place finish in the Derby, has the mount aboard Well Deserved.

Little Polka Dot, with Shaun Bridgmohan riding for Tom Amoss, has come to hand of late, winning at Fair Grounds and Mountaineer Park while showing effective speed in the process.

Others in with solid chances include Wild About Marie (post 2, Kent Desormeaux), a sharp runner-up in the recent Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland; Jocata (post 7, Calvin Borel), a winner of a recent comeback race at Oaklawn Park for the jockey’s brother, trainer Cecil Borel; Speedacious (post 8, Jamie Theriot), third in the Giant’s Causeway for the high-percentage Bret Calhoun barn; and Go for Jan (post 10, Julien Leparoux) whose two wins from just three tries over the local turf course cannot be discounted.

Ronny Werner, who trained Unbridled Sidney to set a turf-course record for five furlongs (55.54 seconds) six years ago at Churchill Downs, is represented Saturday with Celadon (post 3, Miguel Mena), who puts a three-race win streak at risk when making her stakes debut.

The Unbridled Sidney is carded as the 10th of 11 races on a Saturday card that starts at 12:45 p.m. Eastern. Two allowance sprints directly precede it, with Steve Asmussen liable to have the favorite in both with Kajiwara in race 8 and City Cool in race 9.