Dona Bruja can get back on track in Cardinal Handicap

The Grade III, $100,000 Cardinal Handicap is the feature on an 11-race Saturday card at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/8-mile turf heat drew a field of 12 fillies and mares looking to add to their career résumés. Post time for the Cardinal, the 10th race of the day, is 5:24 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#12 DONA BRUJA (8-5, morning-line favorite) gets a rider upgrade to Ricardo Santana Jr. as she drops in class today. She won consecutive Grade IIIs, including Churchill’s Mint Julep Stakes, in her first two stateside starts before two straight Grade I tries. DONA BRUJA was not disgraced in the Beverly D (second) and First Lady (fourth) but seems better-suited to this level. She has a tricky post to overcome but has nearly the entire homestretch to get situated and possesses decent tactical speed. As long as Santana can save some ground DONA BRUJA will have to be dealt with late.

#11 RES IPSA (8-1) seeks her first stakes score as she steps up off consecutive allowance wins. Her latest effort came at Keeneland, where she dispatched an accomplished field that featured #9 LINDA, who also appears here. Due to that result, it seems unlikely that her 8-1 odds will hold relative to LINDA’s 9-2 morning-line price. RES IPSA has yet to go 1 1/8-miles but won over this course at a similar 1 1/16-miles this June. RES IPSA has always done well at Churchill (4-2-0-2) and retains Julien Leparoux. Look for him to work out a good stalking trip from this outside post.

LINDA has dropped each of her last six starts but won the Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes here last fall. She’s placed in five of her last six races, all stakes, so she’s tough to leave off the tickets. Brian Hernandez Jr, as usual, will have the assignment.

The play: $4 exacta 12/9,11, $2 exacta 11/9,12 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Julien Leparoux rides in just five of the 11 scheduled races at Churchill this Saturday but has quality mounts that make up for the lack of quantity. He’ll ride the favorite in Races 4 and 8 before climbing aboard RES IPSA in the Cardinal Handicap.

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