For a race that drew thirteen entrants, I’m surprised at how little early speed there appears to be in Saturday’s $100,000 Regret Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
The majority of the three-year-old fillies entered in this nine-furlong turf event have never shown any inclination to race on the lead. In fact, you can make a case that #11 Romantic Moment is the only true front-runner in this race, which makes the daughter of Flatter an interesting play.
Owned by Stuart S. Janney and trained by Shug McGaughey, Romantic Vision started her career sprinting on dirt with a couple of respectable efforts over the winter, but stepped up her game while stretching out to nine furlongs and switching to turf, breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park with a pace-tracking trip before winning a Keeneland allowance race in gate-to-wire fashion. She’s already won on both firm and yielding turf, and the runner-up at Keeneland—#6 Cash Out—had already proven her worth by placing in two graded stakes races.
The fact that Romantic Vision has already won twice going nine furlongs is appealing, and given the lack of speed in the Regret field, she should have every opportunity to secure a perfect position setting or stalking a slow pace with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz in the saddle. This looks like the perfect spot for her to make her graded stakes debut.
The late-running Cash Out is a logical candidate to finish in the exotics once again, considering that she’s run well in the past against the graded stakes winners Monomoy Girl, Rushing Fall, Andina Del Sur, and Thewayiam. Her 100 BRIS Late Pace rating from the Florida Oaks (gr. III) is also eye-catching.
But I’m just as interested in the chances of #1 Heavenly Love, who should be a bit of a price. Trained by Mark Casse, Heavenly Love has spent the majority of her career racing on dirt (she even won the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last fall), but her two turf efforts to date have been solid as well. She broke her maiden by five lengths sprinting six furlongs at Kentucky Downs, and in the one-mile Appalachian Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland two months ago, she was compromised by a very slow pace and fast finishing fractions, but was nevertheless beaten just four lengths against a very deep field that included Rushing Fall and Thewayiam. If Heavenly Love can work out a ground-saving trip from post one, the drop in class for the Regret could help her finish on the board.
Let’s use those three in the exotics with #8 Beyond Blame and #10 Kabella: