Old rivalry is the story of the G3 Chicago Stakes, the feature at Churchill Downs on Saturday, with Sconsin and Bell’s The One locked at 2-2 in their own personal battle and taking on familiar faces Lady Rocket and Four Graces in what is a very tight, very competitive contest.
Grade 3, $200,000, 7f, 4yo+ fillies/mares
Something’s got to give in the Chicago, the main event at Churchill Downs on Saturday, in which two closely matched track specialist mares face off against each other for the fifth time.
The score is 2-2 between Sconsin and Bell’s The One, with Sconsin getting the upper hand in their most recent encounter in a stakes here over six furlongs in September, when she turned back Bell’s The One to win by a half-length.
Since then Sconsin has won again over that course and distance in the G3 Winning Colors, taking her record under the twin spires to five-for-eight including the 2020 G2 Eight Belles over today’s distance, although she may be best suited by six furlongs.
Bell’s The One, a four-time winner here, came out ahead on the pair’s previous encounter, again at Churchill Downs in a stakes over six and a half furlongs last June, getting the job done by three-quarters of a length. She has a superior body of work to Sconsin, with the 2020 G1 Derby City Distaff and three G2 scores to her name, although she comes here off a slightly disappointing effort in this year’s Derby City Distaff when a flat fourth.
On her previous start she was runner-up in the G1 Madison at Keeneland over seven furlongs, with Lady Rocket three and a half lengths away fourth, Four Graces a half-length back in fifth, and Kalypso a well-beaten eighth. On that performance she has excellent claims, but that last-time-out run creates a little doubt.
Lady Rocket subsequently found the mile of the G2 Ruffian at Belmont Park a step too far when fading late to finish third, and a return to sprinting could move this confirmed front-runner back up. Four Graces was a longshot runner-up in the Derby City Distaff – two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Bell’s The One – but she hasn’t got her head in front since July 2020, and has lost eight straight since then.
The intertwined formlines give bettors plenty to untangle, but one horse free of collateral form is the ex-French Pennybaker, who is bidding for a six-timer and is unbeaten since switching from turf. She won her last four starts in France at around today’s distance, signing off in a stakes, and then got it right first time Stateside in a mile stakes at Laurel Park when hauling off to score by six and three-quarter lengths.
The cutback won’t be an issue and although this is her Graded-stakes debut, she is upgrading so fast that there’s no knowing where her improvement will take her.
Bayerness has yet to make her breakthrough at Graded level but it may not take much longer given her progressive form, although it’s hard to read too much into her stakes win here over six furlongs against just two rivals last time out.
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds by JazzSports|
|Lady Rocket||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||+250|
|Bell’s the One||Corey J. Lanerie||+350|
|Four Graces||Julien R. Leparoux||+800|
Chicago Stakes Betting Pick
All seven runners have claims, but it’s worth taking a chance on PENNYBAKER, who has improved no end since switching from turf and is ready for this class hike.
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