Seeking a Prize Performance in the 2019 Fleur de Lis
Courtesy of J. Keeler Johnson of America's Best Racing
A cursory glance at the past performances for Saturday’s $250,000, Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs will reveal two runners who stand out as the top contenders: #2 She’s a Julie and #3 Elate.
These proven top-level winners need no introduction. She’s a Julie scored her signature win in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, while Elate has been among the leading fillies and mares in North America since 2017, when she swept to victories in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Beldame Invitational.
Thus, it’s understandable why She’s a Julie and Elate will probably be the favorites in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, which serves as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November. But could these classy contenders be vulnerable to an upset?
I don’t think it’s out of the question. She’s a Julie ran well in the La Troienne, wearing down Grade 1 winner Secret Spice despite being carried wide down the homestretch, but she’s yet to run particularly fast on the Beyer or Brisnet speed figure scales. Meanwhile, Elate is 0-for-2 this season and regressed when weakening to finish third in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap two months ago. She’ll need to bring a stronger effort if she’s going to win the Fleur de Lis.
That’s why I’m going to take a shot at a mild upset with #5 Blue Prize. This 6-year-old daughter of Pure Prize has cracked the trifecta in six of her seven starts at Churchill Downs, a record that includes a 1 ½-length score in the 2018 Fleur de Lis. Her lone out-of-the-money finish at Churchill Downs came when she finished fourth in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, beaten just 1 ½ lengths against a deep field.
Blue Prize was soundly defeated by She’s a Julie in the La Troienne, but that race marked Blue Prize’s 2019 debut, and she had every right to weaken after making a mid-race move to reach contention. Under the circumstances, her third-place finish wasn’t bad—it was certainly an improvement over her 2018 bow, when she faded to seventh in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes.
In addition to her Fleur de Lis triumph, Blue Prize boasts two other graded stakes victories at Churchill Downs, and she’ll have the four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle on Saturday. If Blue Prize brings her A-game in her second start of the season, I think she can step up and challenge She’s a Julie and Elate for supremacy. Blue Prize is already on par with She’s a Julie in terms of Beyer speed figures, and on the Brisnet scale she’s run faster on several occasions.
I recommend betting Blue Prize to win and keying her in exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta. We’ll be set for a nice score if she comes out on top, and even if she runs second or third behind the favorites, we should still walk away ahead of the game.
Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget
$4 to win on #5 Blue Prize
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $4 to win on 5
$1 exacta: 5 with 2,3 ($2)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $1 exacta: 5 with 2,3
$2 exacta: 2,3 with 5 ($4)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $2 exacta: 2,3 with 5
Wagering Strategy on a $25 Budget
$7 to win on #5 Blue Prize
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $10 to win on 5
$1 exacta: 2,3,5 with 2,3,5 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $1 exacta box: 2,3,5
$1 trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3 ($2)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $1 trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3
$2 trifecta: 2,3 with 5 with 2,3 ($4)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $2 trifecta: 2,3 with 5 with 2,3
$3 trifecta: 2,3 with 2,3 with 5 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 7th race, $3 trifecta: 2,3 with 2,3 with 5
Good luck, and enjoy the race!
For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to americasbestracing.net.
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