Churchill Downs has one of its final prep races before the 2022 Breeders Cup season with the G3 Dogwood Stakes on Saturday, with Echo Zulu opening the program as the favorite at 1-1 odds. But the three-year-old filly will have a competitive field of six other horses ready to try and steal a win in the Dogwood. So here's a look at your best bets for the Dogwood Stakes presented by horse racing writer Emmitt Davis.
North American Champion Trainer Steve Asmussen's Echo Zulu looks to take on the Dogwood Stakes following her most recent fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks. The three-year-old had an incredible season last year, winning the G1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, G1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont (A Breeders Cup Qualifier), and finally winning the NetJets Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar last year. Now the Fair Ground Oaks winner is making her first start since May, which is something to keep a look at but for being at even odds at 1-1; she is the best bet for the Dogwood Stakes.
Chasing Fireflies enters her first graded stakes race of life, sitting second in the program at 20-1 odds. The John Alexander Ortiz Trainee hasn't raced in a primary stakes race this year, making the Dogwood a rare win if Chasing Fireflies ends up in the winner's circle. But here's what I like about this three-year-old. Her most recent workout was strong, going five furlongs in 1.00.4, improving from her last time of 1.01.0. I don't see anything major coming from this three-year-old, but I could see her being a good bet for a high payout on your trifecta bid.
Todd Pletcher's Colorful Mischief makes her first ever stakes race start after a win this past August at Saratoga Racetrack in Saratoga Springs, New York. The three-year-old has raced well for non stakes races winning two of her last four races in her rookie season. But, one thing I don't like about this rookie is that she hasn't shown me anything that makes me confident compared to Echo Zulu. However, I would take note of her last workout, going four furlongs in 48.44 seconds which is good as it was an improvement from her previous workout before that. But, even though I don't have the Todd Pletcher trainee winning the Dogwood, Id consider her as a place or show depending on the final odds.
Wilton Stakes winner Tarabi looks to keep the winning streak going as she looks for her second win of the year and her third-lifetime win. The Cherie DeVaux trainee has had a good season, with a first-place finish and second-place finish in her two starts. However, as there isnt much to analyze in her current season, I want to look at her previous season. She ended the season finishing third, behind Dogwood runner and winner Echo Zulu, in the Grade 1 NetJets Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. However, she raced well in the Grade 2 Spinaway Stakes, coming in second right behind Leave No Trace. I'd consider that Echo Zulu has beaten her before when placing a bet on this three-year-old, and knowing that Echo Zulu has only lost one-lifetime start, I don't think the Dogwood will be one that she loses.
Rookie racer Gunning looks to race in her first ever graded stakes race following her third-place finish in the ungraded Runhappy Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park this past August. The Kenneth McPeek trainee has only raced in three races this year, finishing first, second, and third in her three starts. Now for a rookie season and not only having three starts this season but not much that draws me to bet on this horse. But you never know what's going to happen, and at 8-1, a win by this three-year-old would be a big payout.
Trainer Eddie Kenneally hopes to keep his win streak with Last Leaf alive as he enters her into the Dogwood Stakes. Last Leaf has had a great season, with four first-place finishes out of her last eight. However, the three-year-old has won the previous three races she's started, all being ungraded stakes. Last Leaf most recently ran alongside Gunning, an entry in the Dogwood Stakes, in the ungraded Runhappy Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park this past August, where she made a trip into the winner's circle. But, the three-year-old has had a difficult time in graded stakes action as she finished third in the G3 Foward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park and fourth in the G3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream. Now I wouldn't rule out the Game Face Stakes winner as she has been running great recently, but she is not my first pick for the Dogwood Stakes.
The second Steve Asmussen trainee Wicked Halo looks to face off against companion Echo Zulu in the Dogwood Stakes following her Priories Stakes win at Saratoga in the first week of September. Now Wicked Halo is the only real challenge that Echo Zulu has in the Dogwood as she sits at the program at 7-2 odds. However, this will be Wicked Halo's second start this month which is a quick turnaround for this three-year-old. But, I think Wicked Halo can give an excellent run to the favorite Echo Zulu in the Dogwood but will come up just short. Regardless she is in all of my bets other than a win and should be in yours too.
So there you have it, the best bets for the Dogwood Stakes. Like I said throughout the preview Echo Zulu stands clear as the top choice for the Dogwood, with Wicked Halo right behind. So here are my final wagers for the Dogwood Stakes.
WPS- Echo Zulu
PS- Wicked Halo
S- Colorful Mischief
Trifecta 1 7 3
Superfecta 1 7 3 4
Make sure to look out for some of the upcoming previews next week, as Belmont At The Big A has its premier meet day on October 1st. But, for now, best of luck to all.