Multiple Grade 3 queen Keertana will take on boys for the first time in her 25-race career when she lines up in the gate of Saturday's $100,000 Grade 3 Louisville at Churchill Downs. The dark bay mare will break from post 4 under jockey Jose Lezcano in the field of 10 while going 1 1/2 miles in her second straight race.
The Tom Proctor trainee first tried 12 furlongs on April 28 at Keeneland, where she pulled off a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Bewitch over yielding ground. The five-year-old has plenty of experience winning on firm turf as well, taking Grade 3 The Very One at Gulfstream in February and last year's Grade 3 Glens Falls at Saratoga, and loves the Matt Winn Turf Course. She just missed by a half-length when third in last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf under the Twin Spires, and also placed third in the Grade 3 Mint Julep last June.
Keertana has captured three of her four starts this season, with her only loss once again coming as a third, this time in the Grade 3 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs in March. She'll tote the second highest weight in the Louisville field when Lezcano weighs in at 117 pounds.
Only one horse has been assigned more than Keertana, and that contender is recent Grade 2 Elkhorn victor Musketier, who will carry 122 pounds including jockey Jesus Castanon. The gray only raced three times in 2010, taking that year's edition of the Elkhorn as well as placing in the Grade 3 Sycamore. The Roger Attfield veteran has already run that many times this season, placing in both the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida and Grade 3 Pan American to start his nine-year-old campaign. Musketier will be trying Churchill's turf for the first time in this spot, but has already proven his ability at winning over 1 1/2 miles.
Looking to defend his title in the Louisville will be Free Fighter, who has been well-beaten his two tries so far this year. The chestnut gelding hasn't won since taking this race a year ago but will be getting the services of Churchill veteran rider Calvin Borel this time around.
Also entered are Elkhorn fourth Simmard, who captured an allowance/optional claimer two back; Guys Reward, placed in the Grade 2 American Turf, Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf and Grade 3 Transylvania last year; and Elkhorn sixth-placer Bearpath, second in the 2010 Louisville following a seventh-place run in the Elkhorn.