Churchill Downs Picks: Fleur de Lis Stakes 2024 Entries, Horses, Odds, and Predictions (2024)

Fleur de Lis Stakes 2024

While the Stephen Foster Stakes serves as the main event of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series at Churchill Downs this week, the Fleur de Lis Stakes puts six strong fillies and mares together in a Grade 2 scamper for a piece of the $500,000 prize purse. Post time is set for 4:25 p.m. ET on what should be an outstanding day of racing under the twin spires.

Here are the Fleur de Lis Stakes entries, odds, jockeys, and trainers:

PostHorseTrainerJockeyOdds
1Free Like a GirlC. Deville PomierC. Lanerie6-1
2Shotgun HottieC. DeVauxP. Lopez4-1
3TaxedR. MorseB. Hernandez Jr.5-1
4ScyllaW. MottJ. Castellano6-5
5OccultC. BrownI. Ortiz Jr.6-1
6XigeraP. BauerJ. Leparoux9-2

Accolades and accomplishments aplenty with this collection of female horses. This will be a 1 ⅛ mile gallop around Churchill and there are a ton of stakes wins among this group. There are also some excellent connections in this race and nobody in the field failed to hit the board in their last start, so everybody is in some kind of form.

Here are some notes on the horses:

1. Free Like a Girl (6-1; Deville Pomier/Lanerie): The daughter of El Deal and Flashy Prize is definitely a volume horse. This will be her 40th career start and her eighth start of 2024. She’s coming off of a place finish in the G1 La Troienne, where she was better than 2023 Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes winner Pretty Mischievous, but not better than winner Idiomatic. The 2023 Breeders’ Cup Distaff champ made the La Troienne her sixth straight win and ninth in 10 races.

So, Free Like a Girl ran very admirably in a loaded field. This is far and away her longest layoff of 2024, as trainer Chasey Deville Pomier gave her extra time coming off of that race on a muddy track on May 3. With the bad start, Corey Lanerie had to hit the gas early to catch up and Idiomatic dusted the rest of the field over the final furlong. A better start and Free Like a Girl has a shot at her first graded stakes win.

2. Shotgun Hottie (4-1; DeVaux/Lopez): It could be a big Saturday at Churchill for Cherie DeVaux, who has a horse I really like in the Stephen Foster Stakes named Pyrenees. Shotgun Hottie, one of many sired by Gun Runner, is coming off of a career-best effort on Preakness weekend in the Allaire Dupont Distaff at this same distance of 1 ⅛ miles.

Consistency is a huge issue. She won the Lady’s Secret and Molly Pitcher at Monmouth to finish her 2023 season before struggling out of the gate to open 2024. Rider Paco Lopez is having a solid season and I love what we saw from the horse and rider last month.

3. Taxed (5-1; Morse/Hernandez): The daughter of Collected and Yankee Union won the 2023 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, but there aren’t a whole lot of performances to get excited about otherwise. Obviously it has been a big season for rider Brian Hernandez Jr., but stakes races generally don’t go all that well for trainer Randy Morse and Taxed was sixth in her only G1 race last year at Saratoga in the Alabama Stakes.

Her two wins this year have been at six furlongs and a mile. Extra distance and extra talent don’t add up for her chances in my opinion.

4. Scylla (6-5; Mott/Castellano): The Tapit and Close Hatches connection worked in the Ohio Derby last weekend at Thistledown, as Bill Mott secured a winner with Batten Down in a race that was dramatically smaller than expected because of scratches. But, Close Hatches’ offspring have done well this year and any horse sired by Tapit is going to raise some eyebrows.

Her undefeated record at Churchill Downs is another checked box, along with an impressive win over Xigera and Wet Paint in the Shawnee Stakes on June 1. She’s never gone 1 ⅛ miles. The bloodline is clearly supportive of distance, as Close Hatches had no issues over a mile. Scylla’s 3-year-old season ended with maiden and allowance wins and she finished second and third to start 2024 before finding her stride. The distance is a tad worrisome, but the trend line and the bloodline quell those fears.

5. Occult (6-1; Brown/Ortiz): Interestingly, the Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz Jr. tandem probably stands out the most in this field, but Occult, the daughter of Into Mischief and Magical Feeling, is the least accomplished runner in the field. She is a two-time stakes winner with the Busanda in January 2023 and the Monmouth Oaks in July 2023, but she’s only raced once this season. It was a fairly weak Monmouth field for the Serena’s Song and she ran third.

Perhaps she’ll be more prepared with the 6.5-month layoff in the rearview mirror, but I don’t love her chances here.

6. Xigera (9-2; Bauer/Leparoux): The toughest horse to handicap in this race is Xigera. She was a total non-factor in her 2024 debut on more than a five-month layoff. She was much more competitive in the Shawnee Stakes as opposed to that La Troienne run. This is a horse that went 3-for-3 after making a full-time transition to dirt in the fall of last year. Her 3-for-3 included wins in the Seneca Overnight and Falls City right here in Louisville.

Recent workouts have been extremely promising and she draws the outside post where Julien Leparoux can run her to the front and dictate the pace. However, weather may also be a factor here. If summer storms settle in and create a wet and muddy track, Xigera could be in trouble, as she hated the mud and muck in the La Troienne. On the other hand, her father, Nyquist, was just fine with mud.

Fleur de Lis Stakes Picks

This is a tough race. You can talk yourself into all six of the horses, though some do stand out with stronger cases than others.

I’m worried about the distance and the start for Free Like a Girl with some early speed, so I’m out on her. I’m out on Occult and Taxed as well.

All in all, I find Shotgun Hottie and Xigera to be the most compelling for me, but I’ll include Scylla in an exotic for some protection. I also think there’s a chance somebody catches her over the final eighth of a mile, given that she’s never done that.

Using a hypothetical $50 bankroll:

$10 Win ($20)

2 Shotgun Hottie

6 Xigera

$5 Exacta Box ($30)

2/4/6

Churchill Downs Picks: Fleur de Lis Stakes 2024 Entries, Horses, Odds, and Predictions (2024)

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