How to Bet the Fleur de Lis Handicap
It could be difficult for handicappers to have any strong opinions regarding Saturday’s $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, but that could also mean that the odds on some of the main contenders will be enticing enough to make the risk of a less-confident play worthwhile.Nine fillies and mares have been entered in the nine-furlong race, and while I’ll count myself among those without a strong opinion of the field, I am drawn to the chances of #3 Blue Prize and believe she'll be a good price. Trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, the Argentinean-bred mare showed her affinity for this track and distance when winning the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) last November by 8 ½ lengths, earning an eye-catching 101 BRIS speed figure.
A repeat of that effort would make Blue Prize tough to beat in the Fleur de Lis, and her performance in the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico last month suggests that she’s still in good form. After tracking testing fractions over a sloppy, sealed track, Blue Prize seized command and drew off to a 2 ½-length lead passing the eighth pole, only to be caught in the final strides by the late-running Song of Spring. Notably, Blue Prize was the only pacesetter to hang around for a respectable finish; the first-, third-, and fourth-place finishers all closed from more than ten lengths off the early lead.
The return to Churchill Downs and a dry track should be ideal for Blue Prize, who will have the Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz in the saddle. I hope to see her work out a perfect trip stalking the pace before taking over and powering home to record another graded stakes victory.
#2 Mopotism, an experienced graded stakes winner, ships in from California for trainer Doug O’Neill and could find the Fleur de Lis field a bit more manageable after competing against the champions Unique Bella, Abel Tasman, and Forever Unbridled in her recent starts. The speedy #6 Awestruck, 2-for-2 this year against allowance company at Keeneland and Churchill, could be a threat on the front end, while #8 Apologynotaccepted ran second in this race last year and just missed after setting a quick pace in Keeneland’s Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) last time out.
Let’s combine these four fillies and mares in the exotics while emphasizing Blue Prize:
$4 exacta: 3 with 2,6,8 ($12) $2 exacta: 2,6,8 with 3 ($6) $2 trifecta: 3 with 2,6,8 with 2,6,8 ($12)