05/03/2011 3:52PM

Churchill Downs: Unrivaled Belle, Blind Luck rematched in La Troienne


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If Unrivaled Belle is to record a repeat victory in the Grade, $300,000 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs, she will again have to defeat a Kentucky Oaks winner and reigning champion to do so.

Last year, Unrivaled Belle upset Rachel Alexandra by a head in the La Troienne, run at 1 1/16 miles over the main track. Rachel Alexandra was the 2009 Kentucky Oaks winner as well as that year’s champion 3-year-old filly and Horse of the Year. Friday, Unrivaled Belle will face off against Blind Luck, the 2010 Oaks winner and 3-year-old filly champion. Unrivaled Belle defeated Blind Luck in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

Neither filly got 2011 off to an auspicious start with Unrivaled Belle finishing third in the Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream and Blind Luck finishing second in a trio of graded stakes in Southern California. Both fillies should relish the return to Churchill Downs.

Bill Mott, the trainer of Unrivaled Belle, expected his mare would need her first race of the year.

“That should move her forward,’’ Mott said. “I think she’s doing as well as she was going into the last one and we were pleased with that.’’

Unrivaled Belle will break from post 8 under Kent Desormeaux while Blind Luck will break from post 7 under Garrett Gomez. Other contenders entered in the La Troienne include Ravi Son and Stage Magic, the one-two finishers from the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, and Absinthe Minded, who won the Bayakoa at Oaklawn before twice finishing third behind Havre de Grace in the Azeri and Apple Blossom.

Giant Oak heads Alysheba

Giant Oak, who was put up to first by the stewards in last year’s Grade 1 Clark Handicap here, returns to Churchill Downs, where he heads a competitive field of 11 entered in the Grade 3, $300,000 Alysheba Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Giant Oak, trained by Chris Block, won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park to begin his 5-year-olds season. In his most recent start, he finished third behind Mission Impazible in the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Mission Impazible is one of several contenders in this field that also includes Caracortado, who won the Sunshine Millions Turf, Wise Dan, a sprint stakes winner who tries two turns for the first time, and Equestrio, who defeated stablemate Dialed In, the Derby favorite, in a Gulfstream allowance.

Arienza should find Eight Belles easier

A one-time Kentucky Oaks candidate, Arienza should find the competition in the Grade 3, $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes more to her liking.

Arienza, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway out of the 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, won the first two starts of her career at Oaklawn before running a well-beaten second behind Joyful Victory in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn. Joyful Victory figures to be a heavy favorite in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks.

Arienza drew the rail in an 11-horse field that includes Forward Gal Stakes winner Pomeroys Pistol and recent allowance winners Holiday Flare and Victoria’s Wildcat.

Favorites draw outside in full American Turf

Air Support and Surrey Star, both coming off stakes victories in their last starts, will break from the two extreme outside post positions in the Grade 3, $200,000 American Turf for 3-year-olds, which drew a full field of 14.

Air Support, who won the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes by a nose at Keeneland in his last start, will leave from post 13 while Surrey Star, who won the Grade 3 La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita last out, drew post 14.

Great Mills, who led nearly ever jump in the Transylvania before getting nailed by Air Support, will break from post 2. Jakesam, who set the pace in the La Puente, will break from post 8.

Smart Sting seeks stakes score in Edgewood

Smart Sting, the 3-year-old daughter of champion turf mare Perfect Sting, puts her 2-for-2 mark on the line against nine rivals in the $100,000 Edgewood Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Smart Sting, owned and bred by Frank Stronach and trained by Roger Attfield, won her debut by a nose at Woodbine last October and a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream in March. The Edgewood will be her stakes debut. She breaks from post 5 under Javier Castellano.

My Phi Temper, who two races over soft ground at Fair Grounds earlier this year, Sassy’s Dream, Subpoena, and Bonita Star look to be the major threats.