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Shawnee, Blame stakes attract some top-quality horses

Marty McGeeMay 21, 2020

Dunbar Road wins the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Barbara D. LivingstonDunbar Road, winning last year’s Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, makes her first start of 2020 in the Shawnee Stakes on Saturday at Churchill Downs.Go to EntriesGo to PPsBet Now

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Older horses of the highly accomplished kind will take their turns in the Churchill Downs spotlight Saturday when a pair of $100,000 stakes further bolster an outstanding card anchored by the Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The Shawnee is for fillies and mares and the Blame is for their male counterparts. Both will be run over the main track as part of an all-stakes pick five (races 7-11). Here’s a rundown of each:

Dunbar Road, winner of the Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 2 Mother Goose last year at 3, figures as a solid favorite when she makes her seasonal debut in the 1 1/16-mile Shawnee. Jose Ortiz will be back aboard Dunbar Road when she breaks from post 4 in a field of eight.

The Quality Road filly got a short break after finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, returning to the work tab in late February at Chad Brown’s main winter base at the Palm Meadows training center. She arrived May 14 at Churchill, breezing a half-mile in 48 seconds three days later.

“She’s settled right in,” said Brown assistant Whit Beckman. “She’s getting over the surface very well. We expected a solid effort off the layoff and we’re very excited to get her started.”

If Dunbar Road isn’t quite ready, the first running of the Shawnee could go any number of ways. She’s a Julie (post 8, Ricardo Santana Jr.) is a second Grade 1 winner in this lineup, having won the La Troienne at Churchill last May, but she, too, has been away for an extended period, having last been seen finishing fourth in the Spinster at Keeneland last October.

One contender with recency is Vault (post 6, Joel Rosario), who stands to benefit substantially from an April 30 race at Oaklawn Park after sweeping her three prior starts.

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