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.

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.