Ten things you should know about the 2020 Fleur de Lis Stakes

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Fillies and mares star in Saturday’s Fleur de Lis Stakes, one of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge races at Churchill Downs. Champion and current No.-1 ranked older horse in the country Midnight Bisou is among the horses squaring off in the 1 1/8-mile race.

NBC Sports will broadcast the Fleur de Lis as part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” schedule. Watch the Fleur de Lis Stakes and the Stephen Foster Stakes from Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 27 from 5 to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Find 10 fun facts about the race below:

1. This year is the 45th running of the Fleur de Lis, which was inaugurated in 1975.

2. The betting favorite has won the race each of the last three years, but prior to that was a four-year stretch of the favorite losing. This year’s favorite will undoubtedly be Midnight Bisou in her first start since a second-place finish in the Saudi Cup.

3. The Fleur de Lis is named for the symbol traditionally representing French royalty, as Churchill Downs’ home city of Louisville is named for the French king Louis XVI and includes a fleur de lis on its flag.

4. Just one Longines Kentucky Oaks winner has triumphed in the Fleur de Lis: Rachel AlexandraSerengeti Empress will attempt to join that lofty club this year after winning the 2019 Oaks.

5. Three trainers will be competing for their first Fleur de Lis win on SaturdayPaul McGee (trainer of contender Go Google Yourself), Charles LoPresti (Red Dane), and Richard Baltas (Motion Emotion). The other four trainers have all won the race before.

6. Horses will be competing for more than just their share of a $200,000 purse: The Fleur de Lis is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, earning the winner an expenses-paid berth in the race this fall at Keeneland.

7. The race has been contested on an off track (anything other than fast) just five times in its history. This year could be the fourth as there is currently a potential for thunderstorms in Saturday’s forecast.

8. Horses bred in Argentina (Blue Prize, 2018) and Chile (Infinidad, 1987, and Quilma, 1993) have won the race, but no European-bred ever has. Italy-bred Red Dane will try this year.

9. Four horses won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff the same year they ran in the Fleur de Lis: Escena (1998), Royal Delta (2012), Forever Unbridled (2017), and Blue Prize (2019).

10. No horse has won the race at longer odds than 44-1 Stoneleigh’s Hope in 1989. The filly earned her backers $90.60 for a $2 win bet.

Watch the Fleur de Lis Stakes and the Stephen Foster Stakes from Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 27 from 5 to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Bob Baffert wins record 16th Del Mar Futurity with Cave Rock

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Cave Rock won the $302,000 Del Mar Futurity by 5 1/4 lengths, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 16th victory in the Grade 1 race in which he finished 1-2.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Cave Rock ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 on closing day at the seaside track north of San Diego. He lowered the old mark of 1:21.29 set by Declan’s Moon in 2004.

Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainers’ title with 19 wins each at the 31-day summer meet. It was Baffert’s eighth title at Del Mar, but his first since 2003.

Hernandez won the jockeys’ title.

Havnameltdown, also trained by Baffert, finished second in the race for 2-year-olds. Skinner was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.

Longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman own the first and second-place finishers.

Cave Rock paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 favorite. He earned $180,000 for the win.