Thanksgiving Brings Trio of Graded Stakes To The Table

Dalika winning the GI Beverly D. S. | Coady

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Horse racing fans will tuck in to a traditional helping of graded stakes on Thursday at both Churchill Downs and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Coast-to-coast Grade III gatherings include a dirt and turf race in the GIII Falls City S. and the GIII Cardinal S. before swinging out west to the Jimmy Durante Turf Course for the GIII Red Carpet S.

Into Mischief's Played Hard the Favorite in Falls City

With only six drawn for the Falls City under the Twin Spires, there is no question that trainer Phil Bauer has the upper hand with deserving favorite Played Hard (Into Mischief). Once again, the daughter of the Spendthrift super sire commands respect after winning the GIII Locust Grove S. on track Sept. 17, and the 4-year-old filly followed that with a third-place effort against the formidable 'TDN Rising Star' Malathaat (Curlin) and consistent Army Wife (Declaration of War) in the GI Juddmonte Spinster S. at Keeneland Oct. 9. If she rates well and gets a fast main track, look for her to overwhelm this bunch. Her bloodline sports a strong sire, but her dam Well Lived (Tiznow) not only has a Horse of the Year in her background, but her full-brother Well Armed was a multiple Grade I winner.

Sodbusters Take to the Matt Winn

The Matt Winn Turf Course is back in action in November after a controversial summer and fall. Is the new grass ready? The question will dog its path. A staple this time of year is the GIII Cardinal S. Not to be missed, this field of 10 includes older females that will be contesting the nine furlongs. The Al Stall, Jr. trainee Dalika (Ger) (Pastorius {Ger}) is the only millionaire earner in the bunch, and with over 30 starts to her credit, she comes to Churchill from Keeneland after running sixth on Nov. 5. in the one-mile Fall Harvest S., presented by Mint Gaming Hall. Stretching out back out to the nine-furlong distance seems to be in her favor. The last time she took to this course, she won the Aug. 13 GI Beverly D S., rallying past Princess Grace (Karakontie {Jpn}) just before the wire.

Others that will oppose her include the morning-line favorite at 9-5, the Godolphin homebred Adventuring (Pioneerof the Nile). Well-bred for the turf being out of champion Questing (GB) (Hard Spun), the 4-year-old filly was most recently seen in the GI E.P. Taylor S. at Woodbine Oct. 8. where she lost the lead in the stretch and was ultimately moved up a place after the DQ of Moira (Ghostzapper). Controlling the fractions up front will be a key to her success. A longer shot on the board that is worth a look is Eddie Kenneally's 5-year-old mare Curly Ruth (Curlin). Her tactical ability could be an asset in a race like this, especially if the pace falls apart. Out of Rutherienne (Pulpit), she will be looking to improve on a poor showing against the talented Bleecker Street (Quality Road) in the GIII Modesty S. on the May 6 Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Green Rolled Out for the Red Carpet

An 11-furlong turf test will challenge this collection of fillies and one mare. The spinster in this lot is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners's Sister Otoole (Amira's Prince {Ire}), a 5-year-old out of O' Toole. Trained by Graham Motion, her experience over the course of 18 starts, including running third last time out to Temple City Terror (Temple City) in the GIII Rood and Riddle Dowager S., gives her a distinct advantage over this field as the 5-2 morning-line favorite.

Opposing her is a 4-year-old filly by American Pharoah that has contested races at six different tracks over the past year. Scarabea was under the care of Jack Sisterson, but now the Calumet homebred makes the move to Eoin Harty's barn. Routing on the turf against some solid competition, she will need to take a step forward after running fifth in the GI Rodeo Drive S. at Santa Anita Oct. 8.

One other entry to scrutinize is Mark Glatt's Bellstreet Bridie (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}), a 3-year-old filly who makes her stateside debut here. She has nine starts under her belt this year for trainer Michael Bell, but the major question she has to answer is class. Making her stakes debut, she will have to raise her game significantly for her new outfit.

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