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William S Farish Jr’s Pool Play, the longest shot in the field of 11 older horses at 36-1, rallied from the back of the pack to beat Mission Impazible by a neck to win Saturday’s 30th running of the Grade I, $561,300 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi at Churchill Downs.
Much like Animal Kingdom who won Kentucky Derby 137 after racing exclusively on turf and synthetic racing surfaces, Pool Play excelled in his dirt debut, which came in the 6-year-old’s 28th career start. He clocked 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.52 over a surface that was upgraded to “fast” after overnight rain caused the track to be rated “sloppy” for most of the 12-race card.
Pool Play paid $75.20, which was third highest winning payoff in the 30th running of the race. Seek Gold ($185.40) was the largest in 2006, followed by Colonial Colony ($127.20) in ’04.
Locally-based jockey Miguel Mena, who notched the second Grade I win of his career, rode the winner for Canadian-based trainer Mark Casse, who has a string of horses at Churchill Downs with his son and assistant Norman. It was Casse’s fourth Churchill Downs stakes win and first since winning the 1988 WHAS-11 with One That Got Away – the same year he won the Spring Meet title with 29 victories.
Regal Ransom, the mild 9-2 favorite, broke alertly in the competitive cast and led the field through the first three quarters of a mile through fractions of :23.96, :48.74 and 1:13.37 with Worldly, Mission Impazible and Crown of Thorns in close pursuit. Pool Play was unhurried into stride and settled near the tail of field, only to be ahead of Giant Oak, the 9-2 second choice and 122-pound starting high weight. Pool Play commenced his rally with three furlongs to run as Mission Impazible grabbed the lead from a weakening Regal Ransom and went head-and-head with Duke of Mischief at the top of stretch. Pool Play circled nine-wide into the stretch, hit his best stride with a powerful late kick and just got up to nail Mission Impazible in the final strides.
"I was a little concerned early in the race because I felt like the fractions were a little soft,” Casse said. “I was also afraid that Miguel was going to have to go really wide, but he did a great job and only had to swing him out on the final turn. It was a great ride by him and the horse ran great.”
Pool Play, a Canadian-bred son of Silver Deputy who carried 116 pounds, rewarded his backers handsomely with mutuels of $75.20, $29.40 and $14.60. Mission Impazible, ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $8.40 and $5 with Apart under Julien Leparoux another 1 ¼ lengths back in third returning $4.40.
Duke of Mischief was another half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Giant Oak, Flat Out, Crown of Thorns, Worldly, Equestrio, El Caballo and Regal Ransom.
The $327,127 winner’s share of the Stephen Foster purse boosted Pool Play’s career earnings to $909,556 with a record of 6-6-5 from 28 starts. This was the third stakes win of the dark bay horse’s career, which began on July 5, 2008. His only other graded stakes win came in the Grade III Durham Cup at Woodbine in 2009. In his previous start, Pool Play finished second in the Grade II Elkhorn at Keeneland, 1 ¼ lengths behind Musketier-GER.
The Stephen Foster Handicap was one of five stakes races on a 12-race program sponsored by Abu Dhabi. Trainer Ken McPeek won the $138,500 Matt Winn Presented by Emirates Equestrian Federation (Grade III) with Scotus and the $138,135 Regret Presented by Ethiad Airways (GIII) with Bizzy Caroline. The 48-year-old conditioner has won the last five Churchill Downs graded stakes races that he’s entered. This month, he also won the Dogwood with Salty Strike, Aristides with Noble’s Promise and the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap with My Baby Baby – all Grade III events.
Also, Banned became the fifth horse in track history to complete the American Turf-Jefferson Cup double with a two-length triumph in the Grade III, $106,215 Jefferson Cup Presented by Abu Dhabi. The stakes parade began with T M Fred Texas becoming the first winner of an Arabian race at the world-famous home of the Kentucky Derby with a 9 ¼-length score in the Grade I, $52,500 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup.
Racing continues Sunday with a 10-race Father’s Day program that includes a Pick 6 carryover of $19,254 and a Super High 5 carryover of $13,407. The Pick 6 begins with Race 5 (post time 2:51 p.m. EDT) and the Super High 5 will take place during Race 10 (5:25 p.m.). First post is at 12:45 p.m.
STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP QUOTES
Mark Casse, trainer of Pool Play (winner): “I was a little concerned early in the race because I felt like the fractions were a little soft. I was also afraid that Miguel (Mena) was going to have to go really wide, but he did a great job and only had to swing him out on the final turn. It was a great ride by him and the horse ran great.”
On first race over dirt surface: “It all started when he was training at Palm Meadows over the dirt surface there and Norman (Casse) would call me and say, ‘Dad, this horse loves the dirt!’ We didn’t get to run him on the dirt down there (Gulfstream Park), but then we brought him here and started thinking about it again. He was working really well and I called (owner) Bill (Farish Jr.) and told him that we could go the grass route, but it’d be nice to see if he can run over the dirt because there is a little race they’ll run here in the fall for $5 million (Breeders’ Cup Classic).”
Where to go from here: “I’ll talk it over with Bill and we’ll discuss our options. I am not sure that he will like every dirt surface so we’ll have to talk it over. He is actually over at Royal Ascot right now and it’s a shame he isn’t here. I called him right after the race to tell him we won and he said, ‘You’re kidding!’”
Miguel Mena, jockey of Pool Play (winner): “The fractions were pretty soft so I didn’t want to get him too far back. I tried to save some ground with him and not go too wide. He was handling the track perfectly the whole time and turning for home I wheeled him out and he just exploded.
“This is probably the biggest win of my career. It is my second Grade I win (note: he previously won 2010 Grade I Test at Saratoga aboard Champagne d’Oro), but this time is more special because it’s at my home track, Churchill Downs. Louisville is my home and I’m very happy to win such a big race here.
“I am going to ride at Saratoga this summer and hopefully a win like this will help my business up there and get me some good horses.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Mission Impazible (runner-up): “It was a tough loss but a big effort.”
He had run poorly as the favorite in his previous start here in the Alysheba. Did you find any excuse for that effort and what convinced you to come back and try again in the Stephen Foster? “The horse has always trained pretty well at Churchill and we were kind of perplexed by his race. On that day the track was maybe a little dry and cuppy and he didn’t seem to love it, but he’s been training well and we’re looking for that Grade I with him, so we thought we’d give it another shot. We thought it would help if we got some rain leading into the race, then it was upgraded to fast (before the race). But it had some moisture in it, which I think helped him.”
Did you think you had it, or did you see Pool Play coming on the outside? “I knew it was going to be close. I thought we had a big shot and it was going to be close and that he would see that horse in time to kind of rally again. He got a good trip from the outside post and definitely ran his race.”
Where does Mission Impazible go now in this wide-open division? “I think we’ll probably take a look at the Whitney (at Saratoga) next and see how he comes out of it. We’ll take a look at that and go from there.”
Javier Castellano, jockey of Mission Impazible (runner-up): “He ran huge. It was a big race and a great performance. I’m so happy with the way he did it today. Unfortunately we lost the race by a bob, but I give all the credit to my horse. He’s a very nice horse and the way he traveled today made me so happy. He enjoyed when he got to the lead – he was just galloping. And when I asked him he took off. I thought I had it. I saw the horse (Pool Play) way outside, my horse never saw the other horse when he went by. I think he (Pool Play) surprised him. He’s a great horse and I think he belongs with this group. I think we can have a lot of fun with him.”
Al Stall Jr., trainer of Apart (third): “He’s shown us time and time again that he’s spotty, and that’s exactly what happened. Julien (Leparoux) said down the backside he wouldn’t trade places with anybody and it was great – he was as confident as he could be. Then Duke of Mischief came zooming on his outside and Julien said he just waited a little bit. He said maybe if he’d gone on and made him do it, he would have gone on. It looked like he was going to run in the middle of the pack, and he got beat a length, or a length and a quarter – whatever it was. He’s just done that to us. That’s why we always think maybe, maybe he’s going to turn the corner on us. There’s definitely something else there. There’s no question. He’s not cheating – he’s really just not there yet. Like I said, I’m thinking he’s ‘Deadsville’ and next thing he’s coming right back at ‘em.”
Julien Leparoux, jockey of Apart (third): “He ran great. It was the first time I had ridden him, so I didn’t know him that much. I thought I had so much horse, I could not wait to go. But when I asked him the other one (Duke of Mischief) came around me and kind of took my spot, and by the time he got going it was too late. I think if I would have asked him a little earlier he would have won it. I know him now, so next time he’ll be tough.”
David Fawkes, trainer of Duke of Mischief (fourth): “He ran his butt off all the way to the wire, he just finally got outrun a little bit. I’ve got no complaints. I really can’t complain. I’d love to win, but I got outrun.”
Joe Bravo, jockey of Duke of Mischief (fourth): “He ran great and he got everybody excited.”
Chris Block, trainer of Giant Oak (fifth): “He just flattened out. I don’t know. I’ll have to scope him and see if there’s an excuse.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, jockey of Giant Oak (fifth): “He was on the bridle early on. The winner was behind me and I thought he was in comfortable position, but I got spun a little wide around the second turn – but he was running. In the last part he kind of leveled out. He didn’t quite follow through with the run that he’s always given me. I had a good set-up for him, because obviously the winner came from behind me.”
The Breeders' Cup and Churchill Downs today introduced the official event logo for the 28th running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, to be held on November 4-5. The 2011 World Championships, consisting of 14 races and $26 million in purses over the two days, will be run at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby for a record eighth time.
Tickets for this year’s event are scheduled to go on sale to the general public in early June. Fans may register today at www.breederscup.com/tickets for a special pre-sale ticket opportunity in late May. Additional information on this year’s Championships is also available at the event website www.bcwc11.com.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs set all time marks for both attendance and wagering. A total of 114,353 fans came to Churchill over the two days and a record $173,339,131 was wagered worldwide. The event was climaxed by one of the greatest finishes in horse racing history as the 4-year-old Blame held off the remarkable 6-year-old mare Zenyatta by a head in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The 2011 event logo incorporates the Breeders' Cup elegant purple with the Thoroughbred mark in the center of the design. The graphic is combined with the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs shaded in silver on opposite sides of the logo. The center circle is enveloped by a silver outer ring. The words “World Championships” are placed in an arc over the top of the logo and “Louisville, Kentucky” under the circle. The words “November 4th and 5th” are inscribed on an alternate version.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. Total purses for this year’s two-day event at Churchill Downs, Nov. 4-5, are $26 million. The 2010 Breeders’ Cup delivered nearly $140 million in winning wagers to fans at betting locations around the globe. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and on YouTube.
Emotional Farewell to Popular Kentucky Derby Winner Mine That Bird Caps Churchill Downs' 2010 Fall Meet
The curtain dropped on the Churchill Downs Fall Meet on Sunday, Nov. 28 with a farewell salute to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who is heading home to New Mexico after retiring from his career on the track. Fittingly, the meet’s last race was run in the glow of the historic track’s new permanent lights after a 21-day meet highlighted by the return of the Breeders’ Cup and its unforgettable under-the-lights Classic showdown between Blame and Zenyatta, a host of spectacular performances by equine and human athletes and the introduction of “Downs After Dark” night racing for the first time during a Fall Meet at the legendary home of the Kentucky Derby.
Co-owners Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen were joined by trainer Chip Woolley and exercise rider Charlie Figueroa, who traveled from New Mexico for a ceremony in the regular winner’s circle following Sunday’s seventh race in which fans provided warm applause and affection for Mine That Bird, the tiny gelding who shocked the sports world when he won Derby 135 under jockey Calvin Borel at odds of 50-1 – the second-biggest upset in the history of America’s greatest race. Churchill Downs presented Mine That Bird with a special blanket bearing the official event logo of his Kentucky Derby, and track President Kevin Flanery presented the Derby winner a basket filled with apples, peppermints and equine treats and toys for his van ride back to New Mexico and a post-racetrack life in retirement at Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch.
The visit by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships was the record seventh to Churchill Downs, but its first as a two-day affair on Nov. 5 and 6. The result, in keeping with Breeders’ Cup tradition at Churchill Downs, resulted in record figures for both attendance and wagering for the Championships. The attendance over the two days was 114,353 – an increase of 18.5% over the previous year’s attendance at Santa Anita. The Championship Friday program, which included the first Breeders’ Cup races run under lights, attracted a crowd of 41,614 – an increase of nearly 11 percent over 2009. Saturday’s 11-race card attracted 72,739 fans. Two-day common-pool wagering on the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs totaled $163,619,784, an increase of 13% over the $144,599,205 wagered in 2009.
Along with the race for the ages in the Classic in which Blame edged previously unbeaten Zenyatta, the Breeders’ Cup also featured brilliant performance by French superstar Goldikova (IRE), who won her third consecutive running of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI), and a dominant victory in the Juvenile (GI) by Uncle Mo, who became the likely favorite for Kentucky Derby 137 with that win, and unbeaten Awesome Feather, who became an early contender for the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (GI) with her emphatic victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).
But the heroics in the Breeders’ Cup had to share the Fall Meet spotlight with a memorable running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 26 in which Morton Fink’s favored Successful Dan finished first by a head, but was disqualified to third as stewards awarded the win to the Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak. The roughly run 136th renewal of the Clark, a race that is as old as the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, resulted in three-day suspensions for jockeys Julien Leparoux, who rode Successful Dan, and Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard Demarcation, who was disqualified from fourth to 11th because of another incident in the race. Third-place finisher Redding Colliery was elevated to the runner-up spot.
Other dazzling equine performances included dominant performances by 2-year-old fillies. John C. Oxley’s unbeaten Dancinginherdreams, trained by Kentucky Derby and Oaks winner John Ward Jr., overcame traffic problems to win the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GII) by 5 ¼ lengths on the meet’s opening day on Oct. 31, and the Ken McPeek-trained Kathmanblu, a troubled third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII), won the $150,000-added Golden Rod (GII) by a resounding 8 ½ lengths. Her margin of victory was the largest since Silverbulletday capped a season that earned her an Eclipse Award as 2-year-old filly champion with a 10-length Golden Rod romp in 1998.
Tom Walters’ Santiva emerged as an early contender for the 2011 Kentucky Derby with a gritty victory in the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club as the Eddie Kenneally trainee turned back challenges from Iroquois (GIII) winner Astrology and Major Gain. The Kentucky Jockey Club was co-featured with the Golden Rod on the “Stars of Tomorrow II” racing program on Saturday, Nov. 27. That day also featured an impressive victory by WinStar Farm’s Brethren, a half-brother WinStar’s 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, in a one-mile allowance race. Super Saver used a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club on the “Stars of Tomorrow II” session a year earlier as a springboard to his success at Churchill Downs in this spring’s “Run for the Roses.”
The Fall Meet’s human races saw familiar faces atop the standings as the meet wound to a close on Sunday.
Julien Leparoux won his fourth consecutive Fall Meet riding title, completing the 21-day season with 28 victories. It marked the seventh leading rider title for Leparoux, who now has 450 victories at Churchill Downs, 12th best all time.
Marcelino Pedroza Jr., a 17-year-old native of Panama City, Panama, was the meet’s leading apprentice with nine victories.
Steve Asmussen won his fourth consecutive leading trainer title. Asmussen, fifth all time in victories at Churchill Downs with 394, saddled 16 winners during the meet. It was Asmussen’s fifth Fall Meet title and ninth overall.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey notched their fourth consecutive Fall Meet leading owner title by sending out six winners. The Ramseys, who topped the 300-victory mark all time during the meet, have won 17 leading owner titles (nine Fall, eight Spring) with 16 of them being outright crowns.
Chicago-based trainer Chris Block enjoyed a notable achievement during the meet as he won three stakes races – including a sweep of the Thanksgiving Weekend Clark Handicap with Giant Oak and Falls City Handicap with the 3-year-old filly Dundalk Dust – and each winner was bred in Illinois. Block also saddled Askbut I Won’ttell to win the Cardinal Handicap (GIII).
Racing throughout the 21-day session was marked by strong competitive fields, with overflow entries for many of the always popular Fall Meet races for 2-year-olds. Average field size for the meet’s races stood at 9.91 horses-per-race, which was flat when compared with the average from the 2009 Fall Meet.
Night racing at Churchill Downs, a resounding success during the Spring Meet in each of the past two years, made its debut on a chilly Friday evening on Nov. 19 before 15,583 fans – many of whom were clad in outfits in keeping with the evening’s “Mad About Plaid” theme. Continuing the pattern displayed by sessions of racing under the lights in the spring, attendance at the first Fall Meet “Downs After Dark” racing session reflected a 191 percent increase compared to the 5,363 fans who had been on hand for an afternoon program on the same day a year earlier.
"Our fans had many reasons to smile during our brief 21-day Fall Meet, thanks to memorable performances on the track and memorable moments during the return of Breeders’ Cup, our first look at ‘Downs After Dark’ night racing in the fall and longstanding traditions like our Thanksgiving Day celebration,” said Flanery. “We were generally pleased with our racing product and solid field sizes during this compact 21-day meet, but we remain very concerned about the prospects for Churchill Downs and Kentucky racing in 2011 and beyond. We’re facing growing pressure from race purses fed by slot machine revenues at tracks in neighboring states, especially Indiana. Pennsylvania’s success with slots-fed purses continues to lure Kentucky horses and horsemen, and the anticipated introduction of slot revenues to purses at New York tracks sometime in 2011 looms as a major competitive threat. So, while we’re pleased that horsemen found attractive races at Churchill Downs during this Fall Meet and that our purses could be increased briefly because of solid business levels, our concerns for the future of our track and Kentucky racing are in no way diminished because of those successes. The coming year could be one of the most challenging ever for Churchill Downs and Kentucky racing.”
Racing returns to Churchill Downs on Saturday, April 30, 2011, the opening day of the Spring Meet and the week leading up to the 137th of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. The April 30 session, highlighted by the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) – the final prep race for the Kentucky Derby – will be the first conducted under the lights as a “Downs After Dark” event.
ZENYATTA EXPERIENCE LEAVES LASTING IMPRESSION ON PENROD – Trainer Steve Penrod has been stabled at Churchill Downs for more than 20 years, most of the time in Barn 41.
He has seen a lot of top horses walk that shedrow, but nothing prepared him for last week when he shared his barn with Zenyatta.
“There have been a lot of horses here that people knew about like A.P. Indy, Fusaichi Pegasus and Sunday Silence, but I have never seen anything like that and I doubt we will ever see it again,” Penrod said. “It was just the right combination of the horse and the connections.”
Zenyatta arrived at Churchill Downs last Tuesday and returned to California on Sunday night after her runner-up finish to Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). Wherever she went, traffic came to a halt.
“I had no idea it would be like that until the first day she got here with the police escort and 200 to 300 people just waiting to see her,” Penrod said.
On Sunday, trainer John Shirreffs brought Zenyatta out for extended periods of time to graze near the fence that runs along Longfield Avenue so that people, both inside the track and those on Longfield, could see the mare.
“People were asking John if they could get their picture taken with Zenyatta,” Penrod said. “He told me that if he could have cut a hole in the fence, he would have let everybody in. She would do anything. The Mosses (owners Jerry and Ann Moss) were signing autographs and posters and so was John. It was incredible. People were coming out in taxis to see her.”
Another trainer who was stunned at the Sunday gathering was Tony Reinstedler.
“I came back to the barn about 4:30 to help Drew (Coontz) get his filly (Askbut I Won’ttell) ready for the Cardinal (Handicap), and I saw cars parked all along Longfield,” said Reinstedler, who was an assistant to Shug McGaughey when 1988 Juvenile champion and beaten 1989 Kentucky Derby favorite Easy Goer was in the barn. “Easy Goer was fan friendly, but I never saw anything like this.”
THERIOT SAVORS BREEDERS’ CUP RIDING DOUBLE – Jockey Jamie Theriot still was beaming Wednesday morning, four days removed from completing a Breeders’ Cup riding double over the weekend.
Have you come down yet?
“Nope, not yet,” said the 31-year-old Louisiana native, who earned his first Breeders’ Cup victory on Friday with Dubai Majesty’s 2 ¼-length victory in the Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) and came back the next day to win the Turf Sprint on Chamberlain Bridge by 1 ½ lengths.
"I have been fortunate enough to ride in these types of races and do well,” said Theriot, one of three riders to earn their initial Breeders’ Cup victories over the two-day Championships at Churchill Downs. “You work 363 days a year for days like that and then it is back to Ground Zero. There are a lot of people involved and it is great to be able to compete in the event.”
What made the victories even sweeter was that both horses were trained by Bret Calhoun.
“I have been riding for Bret for eight or nine years,” Theriot said. “To see people from Louisville do well was very gratifying.”
HOMEISTER ENJOYS FAST START TO EXTENDED CHURCHILL STAY – One rider who has gotten a fast start out of the gate at the meet is Rosemary Homeister Jr., who has notched four victories from just 13 mounts, including a riding double on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Florida native is riding at Churchill Downs on a full-time basis for the first time in her career that has been spent mostly at Florida and Mid-Atlantic region tracks.
“My agent Steve Elzey has my book at Tampa and he suggested I come to Kentucky after Delaware Park ended and ride the mini-meet before going to Florida,” Homeister said. “It’s a good opportunity and I’ve had a good start.”
Homeister’s first trip to Churchill Downs came in 2003 when she rode in the Kentucky Derby on Supah Blitz, who finished 13th behind Funny Cide after breaking from the No. 1 post position.
“I was on the one horse the other day and it felt like I was back at the Derby being the first one on the track,” Homeister said. “Churchill Downs is such a prestigious track. When I come back next spring for the Derby, I will feel like I have this track down pat.”
Also coming to Churchill Downs from Delaware Park is Irwin Rosendo, who also is represented by Elzey.
The Delaware Park meet ended Saturday and Rosendo will see his first local action Thursday when he is named on three mounts.
A 31-year-old native of Venezuela, Rosendo finished fourth in the rider standings at Delaware Park with 81 victories and previously has ridden at Tampa as well as at tracks in Ohio.
BARN TALK – The portable fencing around Barn 45 that served as one of the quarantine barns during the Breeders’ Cup is scheduled to begin coming down Wednesday according to track superintendent Butch Lehr. However, the fencing around Barn 42 will remain up.
“We are going to use it again next year, so we will just leave it up,” Lehr said. “There are gates, so horses can still to back there to graze and the horsemen like it because it will keep people back from their horses.”
The Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust’s Distinctive Dixie, coming off a four-month layoff, cruised to a 1 ½-length victory over Third Dawn to win the 25th running of the $171,900 Chilukki (GII) for fillies and mares on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, who won the Chilukki for a record-equaling fourth time, Distinctive Dixie stalked the pace set by Double Espresso through fractions of :23.21 and :46.47 down the backstretch straightway.
Leaving the far turn, Albarado swung Distinctive Dixie three wide and collared new leader Third Dawn at the head of the stretch and drew off for the victory. Distinctive Dixie covered the mile on a fast main track in 1:36.67.
Trained by Wally Dollase, Distinctive Dixie is a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of the Dixieland Band mare A Lady From Dixie. The victory was worth $100,183 and increased Distinctive Dixie’s bankroll to $383,154 with a career record of 5-6-3 in 18 starts. She has a record of 3-1-0 in six races at Churchill Downs.
Distinctive Dixie returned $16.40, $7.20 and $4.60. Third Dawn, ridden by Calvin Borel, returned $9.80 and $4.80 in finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of favored Always a Princess, who paid $3 to show under Martin Garcia. Completing the field in order were Bronx City Girl, Double Espresso, First Passage, Emmy Darling, Direct Line, Devil by Design, Be Fair and Taste’s Sis.
In the race preceding the Chilukki, Steven Michael Bell’s Aegean won the $88,300 Dream Supreme overnight stake for 3-year-old fillies by three-quarters of a length over Rapport.
Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Joel Rosario, Aegean ran her record to 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs having taken the Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) in April 2009 against males.
Aegean covered the six furlongs on a fast main track in 1:09.56. The victory was worth $52,558 and increased the winner’s career earnings to $217,283 with four victories in 11 starts.
Aegean returned $16.60, $7 and $4.60. Rapport, ridden by Martin Garcia, returned $5.20 and $3.60 with Happy Week rallying for third a neck back of Rapport under John Velazquez and paying $4 to show.
Racing resumes Sunday at 12:40 p.m. (all times Eastern) with an 11-race program highlighted by the 37th running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Post time for the Cardinal is 5:15 p.m.
POST RACE QUOTES
WALLACE DOLLASE (Trainer, Distinctive Dixie, winner) – “We have known for a long time she is so special. She likes this track and trained good over this track before the race. We felt like she was going to run a big race and she did. We are very pleased and very excited about this race. Robby (Albarado) rode a solid race and did a great job. It took us a little bit to get over a couple minor issues and she proved today she is in top form. She is a beautiful filly. It is a big thrill to win this race and we are excited to win on Breeders’ Cup day.”
Robby Albarado (jockey, Distinctive Dixie, winner): “I had a great trip. For a second there I got scared going into the turn, I got squeezed back and had to shuffle to the outside and once she got there so content and she came home nice. This is great. I love Churchill Downs and it’s nice to do well here.”
Jockey Garrett Gomez was shaken up in a spill Thursday afternoon at Churchill Downs when he was thrown from his mount, Indy Bouquet, in the sixth race, a one-mile event for maiden fillies and mares on the grass.
Gomez, who is named to ride in eight of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championship races at Churchill Downs this Friday and Saturday, including Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Blame in the $5 million Classic on Saturday, was conscious after the mishap and transported to Norton Audubon Hospital for observation.
Ron Anderson, Gomez’s agent, said the rider complained of discomfort in his right shoulder.
“They took an x-ray and the results came back negative,” Anderson said. “We are in the process of heading home now. Garrett is fine and in good spirits and he will ride Friday.
“Garrett said the filly warmed up good and everything looked fine. She just took a bad step. He said it had nothing to do with the course. It was just an unfortunate accident.”
Indy Bouquet, a 3-year-old filly who had two previous starts for WinStar Farm, sustained a compound fracture of the left front cannon bone and was euthanized.
Baffert Bids for Saturday Pre-Breeders' Cup Sweep with Always A Princess in Chilukki and Rapport in Dream Supreme
Arnold Zetcher’s Always a Princess, wire-to-wire winner of the Indiana Oaks (GII) in her most recent start, headlines a competitive field of 12 fillies and mares entered for the 25th running of the $150,000-added Chilukki (GII), the highlight of the undercard of Breeders’ Cup World Championships competition on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The Chilukki, run at one mile on the main track, will go as the third race on Saturday’s 11-race program that begins at 12:05 p.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the Chilukki is 1:15 p.m. and serves as the lead-in to eight Breeders’ Cup World Championship races.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Always a Princess is one of five graded stakes winner in the field for the Chilukki, which was won last year by Malibu Prayer. Malibu Prayer was nominated to the Chilukki, but will be occupied on Friday with an engagement in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI).
Always A Princess is unbeaten in two starts as a 3-year-old after showing much promise at two with a runner-up finish in the Oak Leaf (GI) over the synthetic Pro-Ride course at Oak Tree at Santa Anita and a fifth-place run behind She Be Wild in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) over the same track. She returned to competition with an allowance victory over older rivals at Del Mar in early September and then shipped to Hoosier Park to score her first stakes victory in the Indiana Oaks.
Martin Garcia, who was aboard for the Indiana Oaks win, has the call Saturday on Always a Princess, a solid 5-2 favorite in Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds. The daughter of Leroidesanimaux will break from post position three and carry top weight of 119 pounds.
Other major players in the Chilukki include the Doug O’Neill-trained California invader Emmy Darling, fifth to Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) favorite Zenyatta in the Ladies Secret (GI) at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Rafael Bejarano will ride the daughter of Graeme Hall, who is the 5-1 second choice in the race.
Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Third Dawn also travelled from California for the Chilukki for trainer John Sadler. The 4-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa makes just her third start of the year and has not run since a good third-place finish in the Milady Handicap (GII) at Hollywood Park in May. Calvin Borel will ride Third Dawn, who is the 6-1 third choice in Saturday’s race.
The field for the Chilukki, from the rail out, is as follows: First Passage (Garrett Gomez, 118 pounds), Bronx City Girl (Julien Leparoux, 115), Always a Princess (Garcia, 119), Direct Line (Tony Farina, 118), Emmy Darling (Bejarano, 118), Taste’s Sis (Larry Sterling Jr., 118), Be Fair (Rajiv Maragh, 118), Distinctive Dixie (Robby Albarado, 118), Third Dawn (Borel, 118), Devil by Design (Kent Desormeaux, 118), Double Espresso (Leandro Goncalves, 118) and Alpha Kitten (Joel Rosario, 118).
One race prior to the Chilukki will be the $85,000-added Dream Supreme, an overnight stakes event for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs on the main track. Post time for the Dream Supreme is the 12:35 p.m.
Heading the field of 11 is the Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s Rapport, wire-to-wire winner of the six-furlong Victory Ride (GIII) at Saratoga in August. The daughter of Songandaprayer is coming off a disappointing sixth-place run behind Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contender My Jen in the Gallant Bloom (GI) at Belmont Park.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Rapport is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Dream Supreme. She will break from the rail under Martin Garcia and carry top weight of 122 pounds.
Aclose second choice in the Dream Supreme at 3-1 is Gem Inc.’s Nicole H, a 10 ½-length winner in a six-furlong allowance race at Belmont Park in her most recent start. Ramon Dominguez will ride the daughter of Mr. Greeley, who is trained by Michael Hushion.
Other contenders include Wertheimer and Frere’s Happy Week (6-1), a daughter of Distorted Humor trained by Todd Pletcher, and Westrock Stable’s Tidal Pool (10-1), the third-place finisher to Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic favorite Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks (GI). John Velazquez will ride Happy Week, while Mike Smith has the call on Tidal Pool.
The field for the Dream Supreme, from the rail out, is as follows: Rapport (Garcia, 122 pounds), Nicole H (Dominguez, 116), Helen Belen (Robby Albarado, 116), Storming Suzy (Freddie Lenclud, 116), Wildcat Heiress (Corey Lanerie, 116), Aegean (Joel Rosario, 116), Tidal Pool (Smith, 116), Lou’s Angel (John McKee, 116), Happy Week (John Velazquez, 116), Fuzzy Britches (Calvin Borel, 116) and Magnificent Mia (Javier Castellano, 116).
Adele Dilschneider’s Apart, winner of the Super Derby (GII) at Louisiana Downs in his most recent start, heads a field of six 3-year-olds and up entered Tuesday for the 18th running of the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) to be run Friday on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships undercard at Churchill Downs.
The Ack Ack, at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, will go as the fourth race on Friday’s 10-race card and serve as the lead-in to six Breeders’ Cup World Championship races on the first day of the two-day championships.. First post time Friday is 2 p.m. (all times Eastern) with the Ack Ack scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Trained by Al Stall, Jr., the 3-year-old Apart broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his second start, but followed that victory with a pair of allowance wins at the Louisville track. A late summer break was followed by a victory in the Prelude at Louisiana Downs, the track’s major prep for the Super Derby, and the colt brings a two-race winning streak into the Ack Ack. Apart, who will break from post position one, will carry 117 pounds and be ridden by Garrett Gomez.
Apart, the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Ack Ack, shares the top weight in the race with Amerman Racing Stable’s defending Ack Ack champion Demarcation. Trained by Paul McGee, Demarcation was fifth in Churchill Downs’ Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap in his most recent start. Calvin Borel has the mount on Demarcation, the 5-2 second choice who will break from post position four.
Another major player in the Ack Ack is Robert LaPenta and Fred Brei’s Jackson Bend, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (GI), runner-up in the Wood Memorial (GI) and 12th to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). The Nick Zito trainee, a beaten favorite in the Pegasus (GIII) at the Meadowlands and the Star of Cozzene at Belmont Park in his last two starts, is the 4-1 third choice in the Ack Ack and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
The field for the Ack Ack, from the rail out, is as follows: Apart (Gomez, 117 pounds), Stream Cat (James Graham, 113), Silver Edition (Mike Smith, 114), Demarcation (Borel, 117), Colizeo (Ramon Dominguez, 115) and Jackson Bend (Castellano, 115).
Tne race prior to the Ack Ack, with a 3 p.m. post time, is the $85,000-added The Jimmy V “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up!” overnight stakes race for 3-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track. The Jimmy V drew a field of nine and features the return of Noble’s Promise.
Owned by Chasing Dreams Racing 2008, Noble’s Promise has not run since finishing fifth in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (GI) at Britain’s Royal Ascot meet in June that followed a fifth-place finish to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Ken McPeek, Noble’s Promise won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity last fall at Keeneland and is graded stakes-placed in three other races.
Julien Leparoux has the mount on Noble’s Promise, who will break from post position nine. The son of Cuvee, trained by Ken McPeek, is the 9-2 third choice in the Jimmy V morning line.
The 3-1 favorite for the Jimmy V is Robert and Lawana and Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet, runner-up to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile contender Thiskyhasnolimit in the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs in May and winner of the $100,000 Rumson at Monmouth Park. He is racing for the first time since July 4 when he finished last of six to Discreetly Mine in Monmouth’s Jersey Shore (GIII).
Shawn Bridgmohan will ride Cool Bullet for trainer Steve Margolis.
Also expected to attract fan support is Patti and Hal Earnhart’s Bulldogger, a son of Dixie Union with two wins in four starts for trainer Bob Baffert. Bulldogger, the 4-1 second choice, is coming off a sixth-place finish to Discreetly Mine in the Aug. 28 King’s Bishop (GI) at Saratoga. Martin Garcia will ride Bulldogger.
Noble’s Promise is one of two veterans of the 2010 Kentucky Derby in the Jimmy V field. Gold Mark Farm’s Backtalk, a Tom Amoss trainee who finished last of 20 in the Derby field, finished second in a Remington Park allowance race in his most recent start. Rafael Bejarano will ride the son of Smarty Jones, who is a 6-1 risk in the morning line.
The field for the Jimmy V, from the rail out, is as follows: Backtrack (James Graham), Cool Bullet (Shaun Bridgmohan), Don’t Put It Back (Larry Sterling Jr.), Don Tito (Joel Rosario), Latigo Shore (John Velazquez), Backtalk (Rafael Bejarano), Bulldogger (Martin Garcia), Close to the Edge (Ramon Dominguez) and Noble’s Promise (Leparoux). All starters will carry 116 pounds.
QUALITY ROAD, UNCLE MO HEAD SUNDAY WORKERS FROM PLETCHER CAMP – Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road, winner of the Woodward (Grade I) in his most recent outing and a major contender for Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), and Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo, the likely favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), headed a group of five horses from the powerful stable of trainer Todd Pletcher that turned in their final works for the two-day Championships on Sunday.
The versatile Quality Road, who also earned Grade I wins this year in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap, worked four furlongs in :48.60 in company with Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, who will run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Exercise rider Patty Krotenko was in the saddle as Quality Road covered the distance over a fast track in fractional splits of :12, :24.20 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02
Quality Road, running on the outside, finished about length in front of Aikenite, who was timed in :48.40 for his half-mile under veteran exercise rider Kevin Willey.
“I thought both horses worked very well,” said Pletcher. “Quality Road is obviously an exceptionally talented horse and does things very easily. I thought it was a good progressive work. He picked it up down the lane, galloped out well and seemed to get over the ground extremely well.”
Uncle Mo finished his preparations for the Juvenile by working four furlongs in company with his Repole stablemate Stay Thirsty and the colts finished together in :50.60. Uncle Mo, a son of Indian Charlie and a sizzling winner of the Champagne (GI) in his most recent start, worked on the outside of that duo under Horacio De Paz, while Krotenko was aboard Stay Thirsty as the pair worked in fractional times of :12.60, :25.40 and :37.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.60.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever worked them together, although they have both worked in company quite a bit,” Pletcher said. “We were not looking for a whole lot from either one. Stay Thirsty had a lot of his conditioning done at Belmont, and Uncle Mo obviously is running back 28 days, and ran a mile in 1:34-and-change 22 days ago (in the Champagne).
“I kind of let them get a little feel for the track. I thought it was a little slower than I wanted it to be, but it was the right kind of slow. They went each eighth a little faster than the previous one. I thought Uncle Mo galloped out particularly well. He was all the way back to the half-mile pole before he actually pulled up.”
The only other Pletcher trainee to work was Paul Pompa Jr.’s Rose Catherine, a 3-year-old filly who will take on males in the Turf Sprint. The daughter of Speightstown breezed four furlongs around the dogs on firm turf under De Paz in :49.60. She was very eager as she broke off for the move, covered her opening quarter in :26.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.40.
“She’s a superior work horse and would work as fast as a horse could possibly work if you allowed her to,” Pletcher said. “But when you’re going five-eighths on the grass, they need to be ready to roll and that’s her game. I thought she worked very well. Sometimes you have to be a little careful with her or she will do way too much, but we had a nice, quiet turf course. No one else was out there and she handled it real well.”
Pletcher had worked five horses on Saturday: Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Malibu Prayer (Ladies’ Classic), R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies), More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and Pluck (Juvenile Turf). He said all came out of their works well and appear ready for their Breeders’ Cup races on Friday..
"I thought for preparing 10 horses here for the Breeders’ Cup, all 10 works were right within the range of what we were looking for,” he said. “When you have horses that are fit and ready to go, you just want to keep them happy in their last breezes. I think we accomplished that.”
ESPOIR CITY WORKS FROM WIRE TO HALF-MILE POLE FOR CLASSIC – The Breeders’ Cup Classic hope from Japan, Espoir City (JPN), worked a half-mile after the renovation break in :49.60 with exercise rider Toshiyuki Abematsu up.
What made the work unusual was the 5-year-old horse worked from the wire to the half-mile pole.
"“That is how they usually do it with him in Japan and they wanted to keep him in his routine,” said Mikki Tsuge, West Coast Representative for the Japan Racing Association who has been serving as the connections’ liaison at Churchill Downs. “Toshiyuki said the work went very well and he handled the track fine.”
Fractions for the work were :13, :25.40, :37.60 and out five furlongs in 1:05.
Espoir City had worked a leisurely six furlongs in 1:18.20 last Sunday under jockey Tetsuzo Sato. Sato and trainer Akio Adachi are scheduled to return to Louisville from Japan on Monday afternoon.
MINE THAT BIRD GETS SHARPENER FROM GATE FOR DIRT MILE – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) had his final tuneup for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) by working three furlongs out of the gate in :37.40.
With Michael Baze up and starting on the inside of Derivative, Mine That Bird stepped the first quarter in :25 and galloped out a half-mile in :50.40.
“I just wanted to sharpen him up, and I think it worked,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “Fitness-wise, he is dead fit. But I still don’t know if I have him quick enough.”
Mine That Bird has been in Lukas’ care for five months but the lack of results have been frustrating to Lukas.
“Yes, it has been frustrating because he has been doing well physically,” Lukas said of the 4-year-old gelding who has not hit the board in three starts around two turns during the summer. “I think it is pretty much mental and I don’t know if his heart is in racing.”
Lukas, who won the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park with Cat Thief, was asked if he had handicapped this year’s Classic field. “It’s easy,” Lukas said. “Bet on the filly (Zenyatta) and go to the bank.”
BARN TALK – Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield (Classic) worked a half-mile after the break in :50 under Ceasar Garcia. Fractions were :13, :25.80, :38 and out five-eighths in 1:02.40. The move was the 27th fastest of 60 at the half-mile distance. Toby Sheets, the Steve Asmussen assistant who has been with Haynesfield “since Day One”, was happy with the work, the colt’s third at Churchill Downs since his wire-to-wire victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park. …
Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma (Ladies’ Classic) worked a half-mile before the renovation break in :50 under jockey Robby Albarado. Splits for the move, which has the 27th fastest of 60 at the distance, were :12.80, :25.40, :37.80 and out five furlongs in 1:04. Albarado has ridden Acoma three times in her 18-race career including a victory in the 2008 Dogwood (GIII) here. “She worked really well,” Albarado said. “This was just a maintenance move and she felt as good today as she did the last time I was on her (in the Locust Grove in July).” Acoma earned her spot in the Ladies’ Classic with a victory in the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 10. “She really turned around after her breeze on the Polytrack at Keeneland before the Spinster,” trainer David Carroll said. “She has been a different filly since that work. The key thing with her is how she is doing and she is doing very well.” …
Other works involving Breeders’ Cup horses were a trio from the barn of trainer Wesley Ward. Classic pre-entrant Pleasant Prince worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.60 in company with Aegean under jockey Jamie Theriot. Fractions were :12.60, :24.40, :36.40, :48.80 and out six furlongs in 1:15.80. Working on the turf around the “dogs” in company were Nina Fever (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Madman Diaries (Juvenile Turf). Nina Fever was on the inside and started a length in front of Madman Diaries with the duo finishing on even terms. Madman Diaries was clocked in 1:03.40 and Nina Fever in 1:03.60. Splits were :25.40, :39.40 and out six furlongs in 1:18.60. …
Also working on the turf was Keertana (Filly & Mare Turf) for trainer Tom Proctor. Keertana worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 with splits of :12.20, :25.20, :38.40 and out six furlongs in 1:18.
Going before the renovation break was Atoned (Marathon) for trainer Neil Howard. Atoned worked a half-mile in :49.60 with splits of :12, :24.20, :37 and out five-eighths in 1:03.20. Working after the break was Riveting Reason (Juvenile) under Joe Deegan. Riveting Reason covered five furlongs in 1:01.80 with splits of :12.20, :24, :35.80 and :49, and Jordy Y (Juvenile Fillies/Juvenile Fillies Turf) worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for trainer Wayne Catalano. …
Three horses that arrived early Saturday afternoon from Europe are scheduled to clear quarantine Monday morning and go to the track at 10 a.m. The trio consists of Arlington Million (GI) winner Debussy (IRE) (Turf) for trainer John Gosden, the undefeated Biondetti (Juvenile or Juvenile Turf) for trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and Delegator (GB) (Mile) for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
ROMANS, PLETCHER, SADLER HORSES TOP BUSY MORNING OF BREEDERS’ CUP WORKS SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – A beautiful, crisp autumn morning – complete with thick early frost on the turf course – greeted a crowd of Breeders’ Cup contenders from the prominent barns of Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans and John Sadler on a busy Saturday packed with works by Cup hopefuls.
The horses that will compete on Friday’s opening day of the first two-day renewal of the Championships at Churchill Downs turned in their final works for Pletcher, including his Ladies’ Classic (Grade I) duo of Cynthia DeBartolo’s Life At Ten and Edward Evans’ Malibu Prayer.
Life At Ten, working for the first time over the Churchill Downs surface, worked four furlongs in company with Colizeo, a 3-year-old colt who won the Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill Downs in June, covered the distance in :48.20. She started a length back of her workmate and was a head back on the outside of Colizeo at the finish.
Pletcher said Life At Ten often has company in her works.
“To make sure that Life At Ten gets a good honest work, we put her in company,” he said. “She generally does a little better in company and I thought this work went very smoothly.
“It was her first work here and I thought she got over the track very well.”
Malibu Prayer, on the other hand, won the Chilukki (GII) over the Churchill Downs last November. The winner of the Ruffian (GI) worked a half-mile in :49. Malibu Prayer covered her first quarter in :25 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.
“I thought Malibu Prayer was typical of herself, as she’s generally a very genuine work horse,” said Pletcher. “I had her going :48-and-change with a last quarter in :23-and-change, She had a good finish with a good gallop out and we’re very pleased with the way she was getting over the ground.”
Another Breeders’ Cup hope turning in her first work over the Churchill Downs track for Pletcher was E. Paul Robsham Stables, LLC’s R Heat Lightning, who is bound for Friday’s Juvenile Fillies (GI). The winner of Saratoga’s Spinaway (GI) breezed four furlongs in :48.40 and covered the distance in fractional splits of :12.40, :24 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in :1:01.60.
"I thought R Heat Lightning worked well, which she usually does,” Pletcher said. “She’s a very tricky filly to ride. She’s a little bit difficult going to the pole, but once she set off in her work I thought it was very smooth with a good finish and a good first eighth gallop-out. It was just what we were looking for.”
The most eventful moves of the morning for horses from the powerful Pletcher camp came on the Matt Winn Turf Course, where Bobby Flay’s More Than Real, bound for the the Juvenile Fillies Turf, worked in company with stablemate, Team Valor’s Pluck, a colt bound for the Juvenile Turf.
The pair hit the finish together in :49.80 over “firm” footing with the dogs up on the one-mile course, but the Pletcher duo found themselves outside of Arch Support, who is also pre-entered for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, in a three-way training move.
"It’s amazing that there were probably only four horses on the track and we managed to end up in company with another one,” Pletcher said. “But it seemed to go well. There was a little traffic to maneuver through and it kind of set More Than Real into the bridle a little bit and she was full of run throughout, and Pluck kind of got stuck out in the middle of the track. But I thought both horses very well.”
All in all, it was a satisfactory morning for Pletcher’s Friday Breeders’ Cup contenders, with works scheduled Sunday morning from the horses that will run in next Saturday’s Cup races. That group will include Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) contender Quality Road and Juvenile (GI) hopes Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty. Also slated to work are Aikenite (Dirt Mile) and Rose Catherine (Turf Sprint).
“For the most part, these are all fit horses,” said Pletcher. “They’re all running well and ready to go.”
Both of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) contenders trained by Romans – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado and Donald Dizney’s First Dude – worked five furlongs over their track on Saturday in their final major tune-ups for the big race.
First Dude, runner-up in the Preakness (GI) a close second to Classic rival Morning Line in the recent Pennsylvania Derby (GII), hit the track shortly after 7 a.m. (EDT) and covered the distance in 1:01.20 under former jockey Tammy Fox. He worked in fractional times of :11.80, :24, :36.20 and :48.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
Fox also was aboard Paddy O’Prado as the gray son of El Prado went to the track shortly after the mid-morning break for track maintenance. The move by the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and winner of Arlington Park’s Secretariat (GI) on turf was timed in 1:01. Paddy O’Prado’s internal fractions for were :12.40, :24.40, :35.60 and :48 and the gray colt galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
"Both of them worked just like we wanted,” Romans said. “They galloped out strong, and kept galloping out. The second eighth in the gallop-out was good. So it’s exactly what we were looking for with both of them. All the big work’s done. Now we just take it easy.”
The Louisville-born Romans knows both of his 3-year-olds are outsiders in a Classic in which pre-race talk has centered on the exploits of unbeaten reigning champion Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky. Romans is happy with the progress of his horses, who are still at home and waiting for the world to come to them for next Saturday’s race.
“It’s a good feeling – no more stress,” he said. “As long as everything’s good tomorrow, and we’re not expecting any problems, then we just coast from here.
“They are outsiders, but they are both horses who are doing great, they’re both horses that have proven they run well on this racetrack and that they’re maturing and getting better.”
Sadler sent three of his four Breeders’ Cup candidates out for works after the morning renovation break with the fourth, Sidney’s Candy (Mile), scheduled to work on the grass Monday morning.
First up for Sadler was Tell a Kelly (Juvenile Fillies) with Calvin Borel up. Tell a Kelly worked six furlongs in 1:15.60 with fractions of :12.80, :25.40, :37.60, :50, 1:02.60 and out seven furlongs in 1:30.40.
Switch (Filly & Mare Sprint) was next up under Lupillo Alferez, working five furlongs in 1:01 with fractions of :11.40, :34.60 and out six furlongs in 1:16.60.
Borel then brought Hurricane Ike (Dirt Mile) out for a six-furlong work in 1:12.60. Fractions were :13, :25, :37, :48.80 and out seven furlongs in 1:27.20.
“They were all fine,” Sadler said. “Tell a Kelly is not a big work horse. Switch’s work was actually six furlongs and I got her in 1:13 and change and Hurricane Ike looks like a horse for course here. I thought the track was a little slow this morning.”
Morning bullets for four and five furlongs were provided after the break by Champagne d’Oro (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Smiling Tiger (Sprint).
Southern Equine Stable and Mike Smith’s Champagne d’Oro worked a half-mile in :.47.40 under jockey Miguel Mena. Fractions were :24.40, :35.40 and out five-eighths in 1:00.80 for the best of 36 at the half-mile distance. “I really wanted to go in :45 and the last eighth in 10 and change,” trainer Eric Guillot said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “But the last eighth in :11 will have to do. We are ready.”
Smiling Tiger had a best of 41 five-furlong work under exercise rider Mario Urive in :58.40 in a move that came with some unexpected company.
Smiling Tiger started off about 10 lengths behind two sets of workers, a set for Ken McPeek that included fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Noble’s Promise and a set for Steve Hobby, including Telling, who was working for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Smiling Tiger went past the Hobby duo and then hooked the McPeek pair after three-eighths in :34.20 and finished on even terms with Noble’s Promise. Smiling Tiger galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.
Hobby was not happy with the morning developments.
“I wanted him to go in 1:02 or 1:03 and he didn’t need to eat all that dirt,” Hobby said of Telling, who was partnered by Greta Kuntzweiler and worked in company with Silent Money. “Fortunately, his last work at Delaware Park (on Oct. 23) was excellent.”
It marked the second consecutive year that Telling’s final pre-Breeders’ Cup work did not go as planned.
“I only worked him on the grass once and that was here last year before going out to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup,” Hobby said. “He got out there around the ‘dogs’ and just galloped and never worked.
Churchill Downs (GII) winner Atta Boy Roy (Sprint) worked a half-mile under Borel in :48.20 after the break, the fifth best of 36 at the distance. Fractions were :12, :24, :35.60 and out five furlongs in 1:02.60.
“I told him to go easy,” trainer Valorie Lund said of Borel. “Just start off even and finish.”
Atta Boy Roy is stabled at the nearby Trackside Training Center and Lund said she would bring the 5-year-old to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Red Desire (JPN) worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:00 under jockey Kent Desormeaux. Fractions were :12.80, :25, :36.20, :48 and out six furlongs in 1:13.40.
“She was fantastic getting over the ground, very smooth,” Desormeaux said of the filly who is cross-entered in the Filly & Mare Turf and Turf. “I am hoping she does very well this year so they can bring her back next year for the Classic.”
Among the turf workers Saturday was Arch Support (Juvenile Fillies Turf) who covered six furlongs in 1:18.60. Fractions on the work were :14.80, :27.40, :40.80 and :54.20.
“I thought it was excellent,” trainer Gary Contessa said. “She was like 50 feet out in the middle of the course and then she got hooked up with two Todd Pletcher horses (More Than Real and Pluck) who were working a half-mile and she held her own.”
Working before the break was new Churchill Downs arrival Rinterval (IRE), who covered a half-mile in :49. Fractions for the work were :12.20, :24.60 and out five furlongs in 1:03.40. It was Rinterval’s second work here since finishing sixth in the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) on Oct. 10 at Keeneland, where she is stabled.
"We left at 4 in the morning last week to come over and work,” trainer Eric Reed said. “We came over last night and will stay here. I just wanted to let her get over the track and she seemed to handle it well.”
Other works included Due Date (Turf Sprint): Half-mile in :49 (:12.80, :25.60 and out five furlongs in 1:03.60) on the turf; Seeking the Title (Ladies’ Classic): Half-mile in :50.20 with Calvin Borel up (:12.80, :25.20 and :37.60. Out five furlongs in 1:04); My Jen (Filly & Mare Sprint): Half-mile in :48.60; A.U. Miner (Marathon): Half-mile in :48.60 (:12.20, :24.20 and :36.40. Out five furlongs in 1:01.80, six furlongs in 1:17); and, Prince Will I Am (Marathon): Half-mile in :49.40.
At Keeneland on Saturday morning, two 2-year-olds for Ken McPeek worked in company: Rogue Romance (Juvenile) and Harlan’s Ruby (Juvenile Fillies). The duo covered five furlongs in :59.40, the best of 33 at the distance, with fractions of :13, :24.60, :36.20 and :47.80. Rogue Romance galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80. Also for McPeek, working on the turf in company were Bridgetown (Turf Sprint) and Kathmanblu (Juvenile Fillies Turf) who covered five furlongs in 1:01 (:37.6 and out in 1:14.20). Also on the turf was trainer Michael Stidham’s two Juvenile Turf pre-entrants, Rough Sailing and Willcox Inn, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 (:38 and out in 1:14.60). Working on the main track were Mad Flatter (Dirt Mile) going :46.40 for a half-mile, the second fastest of 64 at the distance, and Silver Timber (Turf Sprint), a half-mile in :48.40 (11th fastest of 64). …
Some works of note at other venues Saturday morning included Zenyatta (Classic) at Hollywood Park: six furlongs in 1:11.80; Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Blind Luck (Ladies’ Classic): five furlongs in 1:00; and Jaycito (Juvenile): six furlongs in 1:13.40. Other Breeders’ Cup workers at other venues included Typhoon Slew (Juvenile Turf): Five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Trackside Training Center, the 11th best of 24 at the distance; Havre de Grace (Ladies’ Classic): Half-mile in :48.20 at Delaware Park; Rightly So (Filly & Mare Sprint): Half-mile in :47.60 at Delaware Park; Big Drama (Sprint): Half-mile in :46.40 and out five furlongs in :58.40 at Calder.
One work that did not place was one from Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge for the Turf Sprint. “There was a little abscess in a foot yesterday and it popped this morning,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “We canceled the work and we will probably skip the breeze altogether. He will be back on the track in the morning.”
In addition to Pletcher’s contingent, other works on tap for Sunday include Classic pre-entrants Haynesfield and Espoir City (JPN), Acoma (Ladies’ Classic) at 6:30 with jockey Robby Albarado up, Mine That Bird (Dirt Mile) and Atoned (Marathon).
INTERNATIONAL STARS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE SATURDAY AFTERNOON – Defending Breeders’ Cup winners Goldikova (IRE) (Mile) and Midday (GB) (Filly & Mare Turf) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI) winner Workforce (GB) are scheduled to arrive in Louisville early Saturday evening for their engagements in next weekend’s World Championships at Churchill Downs.
Also scheduled to arrive this afternoon was the Godolphin Racing European contingent.
Arriving this morning on a charter from New York were a string of horses for trainer Nick Zito, including Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) hopefuls Fly Down and Morning Line and Dirt Mile (GI) candidate Cool Coal Man.
Two domestic charters are scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Sunday; one from California that will include the 1-2 finishers in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks (GI), Blind Luck and Evening Jewel, and one from New York that will include leading Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) contender Winter Memories.
Two flights are scheduled for Monday arrival headed by a flight from Ireland bringing the Ballydoyle contingent for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Slated to arrive from Baltimore-Washington are horses for trainers Graham Motion and Tony Dutrow including Havre de Grace for Dutrow who is a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI).
The undefeated defending Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Zenyatta is scheduled to arrive at Louisville International Airport shortly before noon Tuesday. On the same flight is expected to be one of her major rivals, Lookin At Lucky, for trainer Bob Baffert.
On Tuesday afternoon, a flight from New York is scheduled to bring $4.6 million earner Gio Ponti, who is cross-entered in the Classic as well as the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI).
DEFENDING CHAMP DEMARCATION ASSIGNED 117 POUNDS FOR ACK ACK – The Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation, 10-1 upset winner for trainer Paul McGee in last year’s Ack Ack Handicap (GIII), has been assigned 117 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 18th running of the $100,000-added race scheduled for Friday.
The impost is the same as that assigned to Super Derby (GII) winner Apart, who is expected to start in the 1 1/16-mile main track event. Apart is trained by Al Stall Jr., and owned by Adele Dilschneider.
Marianne and Brandon Chase’s Here Comes Ben was assigned top weight of 122 pounds, but the Charles Lopresti trainee is pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) next Saturday. Second high weight at 119 pounds is Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Redding Colliery, who is being pointed to the Grade I Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare on Nov. 26.
Next on the weight list is David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss at 118 pounds. Dubious Miss, who is also trained by McGee, is entered in today’s Fayette (GII) at Keeneland.
Entries for the Ack Ack will be taken Tuesday.