Trainer Fausto Gutierrez turned Churchill Downs’ Spring Meet closing day from impressive to electric when he told the Daily Racing Form on Sunday that his star mare, Letruska, will run the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Stakes.
That turns the already-deep, 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis into a Grade 1-worthy Grade 2 event. Especially when the field already included three other fillies or mares coming in off of wins. Spice is Nice captured the Grade 3 Allaire Dupont at Pimlico. Vault took the Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont Park and Envoutante the Listed Shawnee Stakes. Before that, Envoutante was second in the Grade 1 La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.
All of a sudden the G2 Fleur de Lis at #ChurchillDowns next Saturday is a monster race as Fausto Gutierrez just confirmed that Letruska, the current filly-mare divison leader, will start with @jose93_ortiz in to ride. Envoutante, Point of Honor, Spice Is Nice also go.
— Marty McGee (@DRFMcGee) June 20, 2021
Along with that comes Point of Honor, who finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November.
Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the winner of this race gets an all-expenses-paid spot in that Nov. 6 race at Del Mar. And, after Letruska won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on the Belmont Stakes undercard, Gutierrez said that’s the ultimate target for the 5-year-old daughter of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
Letruska going for win No. 4 in 2021
This is what you call “a reasonable goal.” This season, Letruska is 3-for-4 will all three of her victories coming in stakes races. The last two came in Grade 1s against several of North America’s best fillies and mares.
In the first of those, April’s Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, Letruska took on two reigning Champions: Champion Older Mare Monomoy Girl and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Swiss Skydiver. Letruska and Monomoy Girl engaged in a memorable stretch run, with Letruska prevailing by a nose.
In the Ogden Phipps, 6/5 favorite Letruska turned away a challenge from 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, one of the hottest fillies in the country. She won by nearly three lengths.
First six career wins came in Mexico
Letruska began her 2021 campaign winning the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Park. Her only loss in those four races came in March’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park to Shedaresthedevil. Envoutante finished fourth, only 2 ¾ lengths back.
Letruska won 14 races in 19 career starts, the first six of which came in Mexico. She’s already banked $1,121,400 in those 19 starts.
The Fleur de Lis is one of four graded stakes on Churchill Downs’ Saturday finale. It shares the spotlight with the Grade 2 Stephen Foster, the Grade 2 Wise Dan, and the Grade 3 Bashford Manor. There’s also the Listed Kelly’s Landing Stakes starring one-time Derby contender Art Collector, who makes his 2021 debut.