2023 Hillsborough Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)
1. KALIFORNIA QUEEN (10-1) – A consistent check-getter in graded stakes, but obviously one of the lesser lights among turf fillies and mares in the powerful Brown stable; although she ran three strong races in defeat to close out 2021, her brief campaign last fall weren’t nearly as fine; career best likely needed here, but that’s doubtful based on her relative class.
2. SURPRISINGLY (5-1) – Except for the dull performance in a key edition of the Virginia Oaks, she’s shown up every time on the turf; her late kick to win the Endeavour (G3) last month was eye-catching as she still had loads of ground to make even into the last couple yards or so; lightly-raced Phipps homebred has a bright season and future ahead of her, but will have to take her game up a peg here, given the stronger depth of this field; wouldn’t be surprised if she did so, and perhaps at slightly better odds than backers got last time around.
3. TEMPLE CITY TERROR (6-1) – Veteran seven-year-old, who could be on her way to the breeding shed soon after selling for $600K at auction in November, completed her 2022 campaign on a high note with back-to-back wins in the Dowager (G3) and Long Island (G3); however, those two were at 1 3/8 miles and longer, which has basically been her sweet spot throughout her fine career; the shorter distance and apparent lack of pace at which to chase are potentially significant obstacles.
4. ROUGIR (7-2) – Multiple top-level winner can be excused her second flop on the Breeders’ Cup stage; her form last season was otherwise good as she had legit excuses at other times, mainly not handling the new Churchill turf and twice running into stablemates that were simply better than her in the New York (G1) and Diana (G1); ran well fresh in the Beaugay (G3) last spring and overcome a dawdling pace, which gives encouragement that she could possibly do it again here.
5. GAM’S MISSION (6-1) – Seemingly a huge fan of the turf at Churchill Downs, both old and new versions; was last seen in June taking the Mint Julep (G3) over Dalika, who went on to take the Beverly D. (G1) and a pair of G3s in the fall; obviously a tough spot in which to come back after such an extended spell, and hasn’t yet reproduced her best Louisville form elsewhere; projected lack of pace is another concern.
6. SHANTISARA (2-1) – A Grade 1 winner at three and an excellent second to eventual division champion (and stablemate) Regal Glory in the Jenny Wiley (G1) last April; she didn’t reappear after that until October, when she was likely short in a Breeders’ Cup weekend stakes at Keeneland, but was back in better form when a clear second best in the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3); deserving favorite here, but hardly invincible in a competitive test.
7. SCOTISH STAR (6-1) – Aside from the clunker as the favorite in the Suwannee River (G3), her form since arriving in the Pletcher barn has been commendable; terrific local debut here when nipped at the wire by Surprisingly in the Endeavour; she rated that day, but looks the leading candidate to set the pace in this one, which makes her potentially dangerous as few appear to have the speed to stick with her early; main drawback in that regard is this will be her longest test to date.