Steve Asmussen

Champion Take Charge Brandi Heads 154 Early Nominations To 141st Longines Kentucky Oaks

Willis D. Horton’s reigning juvenile champion Take Charge Brandi is the brightest star among 154 horses on the roster of early nominations to the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for its 141st running on Friday, May 1 at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”).

The nominated fillies are bidding to succeed Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable, who won the 2014 Kentucky Oaks under history-making, two-time Kentucky Oaks-winning jockey Rosie Napravnik before 113,071 onlookers at Churchill Downs.  Untapable’s Oaks for trainer Steve Asmussen was a highlight of a 2014 season that earned the daughter of Tapit an Eclipse Award that honored her as America’s champion 3-year-old filly. She was unbeaten in races against her gender in 2014, with her only loss being a fourth-place finish to eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern in Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational (GI). Untapable completed her championship season with a victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI), in which she became only the third Kentucky Oaks winner to also win that race.

This year’s early nomination total is a 27.3% increase from the 121 fillies made eligible during the early nomination total in 2014, and it’s the highest total since 170 fillies were nominated in 2009. The Oaks early nomination record is 192 from 2007.

A late nomination phase is open and will continue through Wednesday, April 8. Late nominations require payment of a $1,500 fee. After the closing of late nominations, there will be a final opportunity to make a filly eligible for the Kentucky Oaks through the race’s supplemental nomination process, which requires payment of $30,000 at the time of entry to the race on Tuesday, April 28.

The Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and up to four fillies designated as “also-eligible” to start. Eligibility to compete in the Oaks is determined by points amassed during the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series. If one of more horses should scratch from the Longines Kentucky Oaks before 9 a.m. on the morning of the race, fillies from the “also-eligible” list with the highest respective point totals would be allowed to compete.

The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks is run each year on the eve of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and, like the Derby, has been run annually with interruption since Churchill Downs’ first racing meet in 1875, when the track was known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The race is the centerpiece of a celebration of fashion, food, celebrity and fun that is focused on women’s health issues and outreach. Churchill Downs and national charity partner Bright Pink® join forces on Oaks Day to promote breast cancer and ovarian health outreach. Along with the running of the main event, Kentucky Oaks Day will feature the seventh annual Survivors Parade Presented by Kroger and will continue the tradition of the “Pink Out,” with all attendees being urged to incorporate the color pink into their Oaks Day attire.

The 2015 Longines Kentucky Oaks will be telecast live on NBCSN.

Take Charge Brandi launched her Eclipse Award championship run with a front-running victory at odds of 61-1 in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. She followed that triumph with victories in the Grade III Delta Princess at Delta Downs and the Grade I Starlet at Southern California’s Los Alamitos. Lukas’ star opened her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the $100,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park to improve her career record to 4-1-0 in eight races with earnings of $1,620,126.

A Longines Kentucky Oaks victory by Take Charge Brandi would provide the 79-year-old Lukas his fifth Kentucky Oaks victory, but first triumph since a win in the 1990 Oaks by Seaside Attraction. Lukas is tied with Calumet Farm’s Ben Jones for second place in career Kentucky Oaks victories and trails only fellow Hall of Fame conditioner Woody Stephens, who had five career victories in the Kentucky Oaks. Lukas’ other Oaks winners were Blush With Pride (1982), Lucky Lucky Lucky (1984) and eventual 3-year-old filly champion Open Mind (1989).

The strong list of early Kentucky Oaks nominees also includes Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s I’m A Chatterbox, winner of Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra (GIII) and Silverbulletday in her two races since she joined the stable of two-time Kentucky Oaks winning-trainer Larry Jones, and Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC and The Elkstone Group LLC’s Condo Commando, a dazzling winner of Saratoga’s Spinaway (GI) and Aqueduct’s Demoiselle (GII) at two. Condo Commando opened her 3-year-old season for trainer Rudy Rodriguez with a victory in Aqueduct’s Busher.

Other prominent fillies who are taking aim on the Oaks include Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Callback, winner of Santa Anita’s Las Virgenes (GI), Siena Farm’s Angela Renee, winner of Santa Anita’s Chandelier (GI); Forum Racing LLC’s Forward Gal (GII) winner Birdatthewire; GSN Racing’s Cristina’s Journey, winner of the Pocahontas (GII) at Churchill Downs; Phaedrus Stable LLC’s Ekati’s Phaeton, winner of the Davona Dale (GII) at Gulfstream Park; Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Starlet runner-up Feathered; Cheyenne Stables LLC’s Light the City, runner-up in the Las Virgenes; Treadway Racing Stable’s Wonder Gal, runner-up in the Frizette (GI) at Belmont Park; Regis Racing’s Santa Ynez (GII) winner Seduire; Gary and Mary West’s Golden Rod (GII) winner West Coast Belle; and Charles E. Fipke’s Forever Unbridled, a daughter of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever who ran third in Rachel Alexandra.

Two-time Kentucky Oaks winning-trainer Jerry Hollendorfer nominated 17 fillies to lead all trainers in early Kentucky Oaks nominations. Todd Pletcher, also a two-time Oaks winner, nominated 14 fillies, and was followed by Kiaran McLaughlin (10), Dale Romans (six), Bob Baffert (five) and Chad Brown (five).

Godolphin Racing LLC made nine fillies eligible to compete in the Kentucky Oaks to lead all owners during the early nomination phase. Charles Fipke has the second most nominations by an owner with seven.

Untapable was the second consecutive Eclipse Award 3-year-old filly champion to emerge from the Kentucky Oaks.  Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Beholder, runner-to King of Prussia Stable’s Princess of Sylmar in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, earned that year’s championship in her age and gender division. Beholder secured her Eclipse Award with three consecutive Grade I victories following her loss in the Oaks. Beholder’s championship season concluded with a dominant triumph over two-time champion Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita.

Prior to the championships by Untapable and Beholder, four consecutive Kentucky Oaks winners earned championship honors from 2007-2010. That streak included Kentucky Oaks triumphs by champions Blind Luck (2010), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008) and Rags to Riches (2007). Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches defeated males in Triple Crown races in their subsequent starts, with the former defeating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness (GI) on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and Rags to Riches edged eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in a dramatic renewal of the Belmont Stakes (GI). Rachel Alexandra was named Horse of the Year following her brilliant 3-year-old season that also included Grade I victories over males in the Haskell Invitational and the Woodward at Saratoga.

Other Kentucky Oaks winners who were named champions of the in their age and gender division include Ashado (2004), Bird Town (2003), Farda Amiga (2002), Silverbulletday (1999), Open Mind, Tiffany Lass (1986), Davona Dale (1979) and Susan’s Girl (1972). Kentucky Oaks participants who went on to secure 3-year-old championship honors include Wait a While (3rd in in the Kentucky Oaks in 2006), Banshee Breeze (runner-up in 1998), Go for Wand (runner-up in 1990) and Wayward Lass (3rd in 1981). Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Oaks, and 2011 winner Plum Pretty were among three finalists for the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly in their respective 3-year-old seasons.

Follow this link to a list of early nominations to the 141st Longines Kentucky Oaks.

Early Nominations to Longines Kentucky Oaks, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Due Saturday

Owners and trainers of 3-year-old fillies who hope their young stars prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate for the 141st running of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s (“CDRT”) $1 million guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on Friday, May 1 have until Saturday (Feb. 21) to make their fillies eligible for America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies before the conclusion of its early nomination phase.

The deadline for early nominations to the Kentucky Oaks is 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday, Feb. 21. Each early nomination to the 1 1/8-mile sister race to the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) must be accompanied by a payment of $200.

The Longines Kentucky Oaks shares its rich history and tradition with the Kentucky Derby. Both races were introduced in 1875 at the inaugural racing meet at the track originally known as the Louisville Jockey Club. Both the Oaks and the Derby have been run annually and without interruption since their respective debuts.

The Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and up to four fillies designated as “also-eligible” to start. Eligibility to compete in the Oaks is determined by points amassed during the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” system. If one of more horses should scratch from the Longines Kentucky Oaks before 9 a.m. on the morning of the race, fillies from the “also-eligible” list with the highest respective point totals would be allowed to compete.

The 2015 Longines Kentucky Oaks will be telecast live on the NBCSN.

Last year’s historic 140th running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks was won by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable, who provided jockey Rosie Napravnik, the only woman to ride an Oaks winner, with her second triumph in the race.  Untapable’s win also was the second for her owner and her trainer, Steve Asmussen. Untapable went on to become just the third Kentucky Oaks winner to also win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI). She was unbeaten against her gender in 2014 and was named the Eclipse Award honoree for champion 3-year-old filly. Winchell’s filly was the 27th Kentucky Oaks winner or participant to be crowned as the nation’s champion 3-year-old filly.

Sharing the Feb. 21 deadline for early nominations is the 29th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), which will run immediately prior to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2. The 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up on the Matt Winn Turf Course has become one of the nation’s top races for older turf horses since its inaugural running in 1987.

Early nominations to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic must be accompanied by a payment of $100.

Horsemen can nominate horses to either the Longines Kentucky Oaks or Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by contacting Churchill Downs Racing’s Kelly Danner via telephone at (502) 638-3825 or email at Kelly.Danner@KyDerby.com. Nominations also can be made via fax at (502) 638-3915. Nomination forms for the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic are available online at www.churchilldowns.com.

Churchill Downs representatives have been at tracks around the U.S. this week to accept nominations to those races. They include Racing Secretary Ben Huffman and Assistant Racing Secretary Dan Bork in Florida, Fair Grounds’ Assistant Racing Secretary Scott Jones in Louisiana, Gene Williams in California and Steve Krajcir in Arkansas.

A late nomination period for Longines Kentucky Oaks 141 will open Sunday, Feb. 22 and conclude on Wednesday, April 8. Nomination of any 3-year-old filly to the Oaks during the late nomination phase will require payment of a $1,500 fee. There will be a final opportunity to make a filly eligible for the Kentucky Oaks through a supplemental nomination process that requires payment of $30,000 fee at the time of entry on Tuesday, April 28.

The 2014 running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks attracted 121 early nominations.

Churchill Downs also accepts late nominations to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Those nominations require payment of a $1,000 fee by the late nomination deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8. Supplemental nominations to the race may be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, April 29 and each requires the payment of a $15,000 fee. The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is limited to 14 starters, with two “also-eligible” entrants.

The 2014 Eclipse Award earned by Untapable was the second consecutive 3-year-old filly championship bestowed on a Kentucky Oaks participant. King of Prussia Stable’s Princess of Sylmar won the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, but it was the runner-up, Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Beholder, who took top honors at the end of the year. Beholder secured her Eclipse Award with three consecutive victories after her Oaks setback. The string was capped by Beholder’s dominant triumph over two-time champion Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita.

Blind Luck won the 2010 Kentucky Oaks to conclude a streak of four consecutive Kentucky Oaks winners to take championship honors for her gender and age division. Others in the streak were Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008) and Rags to Riches (2007). Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches defeated males in Triple Crown races in their subsequent starts, with the former defeating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness (GI) on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and Rags to Riches edged eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in a dramatic renewal of the Belmont Stakes (GI).

Other stars who won the Kentucky Oaks on their way to an Eclipse Award for 3-year-old filly championship honors include Ashado (2004), Bird Town (’03), Farda Amiga (’02), Silverbulletday (’99), Open Mind (’89), Tiffany Lass (’86), Davona Dale (’79) and Susan’s Girl (’72). Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but earned championship honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait a While (3rd in ’06), Banshee Breeze (2nd in ’98), Go for Wand (2nd in ’90) and Wayward Lass (3rd in ’81). Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Oaks, and 2011 winner Plum Pretty were among three Eclipse Award finalists in their respective 3-year-old seasons.

Mort Fink’s two-time Horse of the Year and two-time turf champion Wise Dan, trained by Charlie LoPresti, edged Seek Again to win the 2014 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and join Einstein (2008-09) as the race’s only two-time winners. Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike won the race in 2012, a year during which the Dale Romans-trained gelding also won the Arlington Million (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI).

The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic got off to an auspicious start in 1987 when reigning Eclipse Award turf champion Manila won its inaugural running. Manila had won the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) in 1986, defeating luminaries that included Theatrical, Estrapade and European star Dancing Brave in that memorable contest. Other American turf champions that have competed in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic include Paradise Creek, who took the race during his 1994 championship campaign, and 1992 Eclipse Award grass champion Sky Classic, runner-up to Cudas in that year’s Turf Classic renewal. Einstein won the 2008-09 renewals and the versatile Brazilian-bred son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for top older male in each of those years and a finalist for turf champion in 2008.

The 2014 running of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic attracted 90 early nominations.

Early Nominations to Longines Kentucky Oaks, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Due Saturday

Owners and trainers of 3-year-old fillies who hope their young stars prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate for the 141st running of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s (“CDRT”) $1 million guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on Friday, May 1 have until Saturday (Feb. 21) to make their fillies eligible for America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies before the conclusion of its early nomination phase.

The deadline for early nominations to the Kentucky Oaks is 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday, Feb. 21. Each early nomination to the 1 1/8-mile sister race to the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) must be accompanied by a payment of $200.

The Longines Kentucky Oaks shares its rich history and tradition with the Kentucky Derby. Both races were introduced in 1875 at the inaugural racing meet at the track originally known as the Louisville Jockey Club. Both the Oaks and the Derby have been run annually and without interruption since their respective debuts.

The Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and up to four fillies designated as “also-eligible” to start. Eligibility to compete in the Oaks is determined by points amassed during the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” system. If one of more horses should scratch from the Longines Kentucky Oaks before 9 a.m. on the morning of the race, fillies from the “also-eligible” list with the highest respective point totals would be allowed to compete.

The 2015 Longines Kentucky Oaks will be telecast live on the NBCSN.

Last year’s historic 140th running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks was won by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable, who provided jockey Rosie Napravnik, the only woman to ride an Oaks winner, with her second triumph in the race.  Untapable’s win also was the second for her owner and her trainer, Steve Asmussen. Untapable went on to become just the third Kentucky Oaks winner to also win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI). She was unbeaten against her gender in 2014 and was named the Eclipse Award honoree for champion 3-year-old filly. Winchell’s filly was the 27th Kentucky Oaks winner or participant to be crowned as the nation’s champion 3-year-old filly.

Sharing the Feb. 21 deadline for early nominations is the 29th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), which will run immediately prior to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2. The 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up on the Matt Winn Turf Course has become one of the nation’s top races for older turf horses since its inaugural running in 1987.

Early nominations to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic must be accompanied by a payment of $100.

Horsemen can nominate horses to either the Longines Kentucky Oaks or Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by contacting Churchill Downs Racing’s Kelly Danner via telephone at (502) 638-3825 or email at Kelly.Danner@KyDerby.com. Nominations also can be made via fax at (502) 638-3915. Nomination forms for the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic are available online at www.churchilldowns.com.

Churchill Downs representatives have been at tracks around the U.S. this week to accept nominations to those races. They include Racing Secretary Ben Huffman and Assistant Racing Secretary Dan Bork in Florida, Fair Grounds’ Assistant Racing Secretary Scott Jones in Louisiana, Gene Williams in California and Steve Krajcir in Arkansas.

A late nomination period for Longines Kentucky Oaks 141 will open Sunday, Feb. 22 and conclude on Wednesday, April 8. Nomination of any 3-year-old filly to the Oaks during the late nomination phase will require payment of a $1,500 fee. There will be a final opportunity to make a filly eligible for the Kentucky Oaks through a supplemental nomination process that requires payment of $30,000 fee at the time of entry on Tuesday, April 28.

The 2014 running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks attracted 121 early nominations.

Churchill Downs also accepts late nominations to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Those nominations require payment of a $1,000 fee by the late nomination deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8. Supplemental nominations to the race may be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, April 29 and each requires the payment of a $15,000 fee. The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is limited to 14 starters, with two “also-eligible” entrants.

The 2014 Eclipse Award earned by Untapable was the second consecutive 3-year-old filly championship bestowed on a Kentucky Oaks participant. King of Prussia Stable’s Princess of Sylmar won the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, but it was the runner-up, Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Beholder, who took top honors at the end of the year. Beholder secured her Eclipse Award with three consecutive victories after her Oaks setback. The string was capped by Beholder’s dominant triumph over two-time champion Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita.

Blind Luck won the 2010 Kentucky Oaks to conclude a streak of four consecutive Kentucky Oaks winners to take championship honors for her gender and age division. Others in the streak were Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008) and Rags to Riches (2007). Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches defeated males in Triple Crown races in their subsequent starts, with the former defeating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness (GI) on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and Rags to Riches edged eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in a dramatic renewal of the Belmont Stakes (GI).

Other stars who won the Kentucky Oaks on their way to an Eclipse Award for 3-year-old filly championship honors include Ashado (2004), Bird Town (’03), Farda Amiga (’02), Silverbulletday (’99), Open Mind (’89), Tiffany Lass (’86), Davona Dale (’79) and Susan’s Girl (’72). Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but earned championship honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait a While (3rd in ’06), Banshee Breeze (2nd in ’98), Go for Wand (2nd in ’90) and Wayward Lass (3rd in ’81). Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Oaks, and 2011 winner Plum Pretty were among three Eclipse Award finalists in their respective 3-year-old seasons.

Mort Fink’s two-time Horse of the Year and two-time turf champion Wise Dan, trained by Charlie LoPresti, edged Seek Again to win the 2014 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and join Einstein (2008-09) as the race’s only two-time winners. Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike won the race in 2012, a year during which the Dale Romans-trained gelding also won the Arlington Million (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI).

The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic got off to an auspicious start in 1987 when reigning Eclipse Award turf champion Manila won its inaugural running. Manila had won the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) in 1986, defeating luminaries that included Theatrical, Estrapade and European star Dancing Brave in that memorable contest. Other American turf champions that have competed in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic include Paradise Creek, who took the race during his 1994 championship campaign, and 1992 Eclipse Award grass champion Sky Classic, runner-up to Cudas in that year’s Turf Classic renewal. Einstein won the 2008-09 renewals and the versatile Brazilian-bred son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for top older male in each of those years and a finalist for turf champion in 2008.

The 2014 running of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic attracted 90 early nominations.

Baffert's Lord Nelson Made 5-2 Favorite for $200,000, Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club

Peachtree Stable’s Lord Nelson, a runaway winner of the $101,000 Speakeasy at Santa Anita from the power-packed barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, landed post nine and was made the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of 12 juveniles that were entered for Saturday’s 88th running of the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.

Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile race is the co-headliner on the penultimate day of the 26-date Fall Meet. Billed as “Stars of Tomorrow II,” each of the 12 races is exclusively for 2-year-olds that may have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Longines Kentucky Oaks.

The Kentucky Jockey Club – a “Prep Season” race on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” in which the Top 4 finishers will receive 10-4-2-1 points, respectively – goes as Race 11 at 5:35 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 12:40 p.m.

Lord Nelson is one of four stakes winners in the field of a dozen 2-year-olds. The race also attracted Canada’s Grey (GIII) victor International Star, trained by Mike Maker and owned by Churchill Downs’ all-time leading owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey; Jerry Durant’s Iroquois (GIII) champ Lucky Player from the barn two-time KJC winner Steve Asmussen (Private Vow in 2005 and Tapiture in 2013); and Godolphin’s Pilgrim hero (GIII) Imperia, who’ll race on dirt for the first time for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Graded stakes placed El Kabeir, runner-up to Blofeld in the Nashua (GII) at Aqueduct, also was entered and is the 7-2 second betting choice on oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line. The Scat Daddy colt is owned Zayat Stables, LLC and is trained by John Terranova II.California-based Lord Nelson, a Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit out of the Seeking the Gold mare African Jade, won the Oct. 13 Speakeasy in his third career start. He clocked six furlongs that day in 1:09.25 just 16 days after finishing fourth behind American Pharoah, Calculator and eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red in Santa Anita’s FrontRunner (GI).

“He was coming back so quick, but he sort of needed the race,” Baffert said after the Speakeasy. “He got a little tired (in the FrontRunner). I didn’t run him towards the end there at Del Mar. He’d been working well and he’s got a lot of speed, but he’s ready to go further. … (Peachtree owner John Fort) wants to go to the Kentucky Derby badly. The horse will go long. He’s fast. He really needed that race (FrontRunner). He’s a heavy horse. He’ll get better with age.”

Lord Nelson enters the Kentucky Jockey Club with a record of 3-2-0-0—$123,000. His regular rider Martin Garcia will be aboard for the mount.

Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, won back-to-back renewals of the Kentucky Jockey Club in 1998-99 with Exploit and Captain Steve, respectively.

The complete Kentucky Jockey Club field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Sky Hero (Julien Leparoux, 6-1); Eagle (Brian Hernandez Jr., 12-1); International Star (Rafael Hernandez, 8-1); Moonlight Bandit (Cornelio Velasquez, 30-1); El Kabeir (Calvin Borel, 7-2); Lucky Player (Ricardo Santana Jr., 6-1); War Point (Channing Hill, 50-1); Imperia (Robby Albarado, 8-1); Lord Nelson (Garcia, 5-2); Majestico (Jon Court, 15-1); Flashaway (Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1); and Jumpin Frac Flash (15-1).

Sky Hero, Flashaway and Moonlight Bandit are a three-pronged entry by owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse, who teamed to win the 2012 Kentucky Jockey Club with Uncaptured. Oxley has won the KJC two other times with Jambalaya Jazz (1994) and Beethoven (2008).

Flashaway, a runner-up to stablemate Sky Hero in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs, and opening day maiden winner Moonlight Bandit were cross-entered in Saturday’s $400,000 Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct. A decision looms for Casse as to which race they’ll contest. Earlier this week, he was concerned about an outside post in a large field, which could be disadvantageous for Flashaway, who was drawn in post 11.

William S. Farish’s Eagle, conditioned by Neil Howard, enters the KJC off an eye-catching allowance win over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on Oct. 22.

“He’s a lovely colt, and so far he’s been doing real well,” Howard said. “He had a little bit of growing up to do, but he made tremendous strides and I’ve been very pleased with him.”

Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Jumpin Frac Flash wheels back 16 days after a visually impressive, five-length maiden win at Churchill Downs going one mile for trainer Kenny McPeek, a winner of the 2001 Kentucky Jockey Club with Repent.

“His last race was real impressive and I think he wants two turns instead of the flat mile,” McPeek said.

Like Imperia, Calumet Farm’s Majestico will try dirt for the first time after winning a maiden special weight on turf at Keeneland. His trainer, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, has won the Kentucky Jockey Club a record four times: Notebook (1987), Grand Canyon (1989), Dance Floor (1991) and Cape Town (1997).

War Point, a victor on grass last time out at Indiana Downs, hails from the same camp that campaigned this year’s Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Ride On Curlin: owner Dan Dougherty and trainer Billy Gowan.

Saturday’s forecast for Louisville calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high near 55 degrees and chance of sprinkles after 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

All starters will carry 122 pounds. El Kabeir will race with blinkers off.

The Kentucky Jockey Club is named in honor of the holding company that operated Churchill Downs at the time of the race’s inaugural running in 1920.

Inaugurated in 2005, Churchill Downs’ Stars of Tomorrow programs have helped launched the careers of numerous graded stakes winners, including 34 Grade I winners and 20 millionaires led by 2010 Kentucky Derby champ Super Saver; 2011 Preakness and 2012 Met Mile and Clark Handicap winner Shackleford; 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra; 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2013 Stephen Foster Handicap hero Fort Larned; 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can; and 2013 champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge.

BC Classic Winner Bayern, Constitution Head Nominees for 140th Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare

Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) winner Bayern and Florida Derby winner (GI) Constitution headline a cast of 20 horses nominated to the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Nov. 28. Named for Churchill Downs founder Col. M. Lewis Clark, the 1 1/8-mile dirt contest will be renewed for the 140th time as the featured event on “Black Friday” of the Fall Meet’s closing weekend.

Bayern prevailed in a controversial renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Classic but is an unlikely Clark starter, according to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Instead, he is pointing Rebel (GII) winner Hoppertunity to the Clark.

After taking Oaklawn’s Rebel and finishing second behind eventual Kentucky Derby-winner California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby (GI), Hoppertunity was a highly-regarded contender for the Derby but was scratched from the race after a left-front foot issue was detected. Hoppertunity resumed training in September and made his return in an allowance optional claiming event on Oct. 29 at Santa Anita where he finished second beaten a half-length. Hopperunity has earned $622,720 from a 2-2-0 record through six starts.

Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Constitution, like Hoppertunity, was another talented Kentucky Derby hopeful, until a hairline fracture was discovered in his front right cannon bone, eliminating him from Derby consideration. The Todd Pletcher trainee returned to racing Oct. 12 at Belmont Park where he finished fourth in an allowance optional claiming event, beaten by 1 ½ lengths. Through four starts, Constitution carries a record of 3-0-0 with earnings of $653,600.

Other Clark nominees include the Steve Asmussen-trained Tapiture, who was a game second, 1 ¼ lengths back of the impressive Goldencents in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI); Dale Romans trained duo of Oct. 25 Fayette (GII) winner Pick of the Litter and multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Prayer for Relief, who finished 12th in the Classic; the Al Stall Jr.-trained Departing, the multiple Grade II winner and earner of more than $1.5 million who finished second to Pick of the Litter in the Fayette; the Chad Brown-trained duo of Suburban Handicap (GII) winner and Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) runner-up Zivo and Easter Gift, who was third in last year’s Clark; and Cary Street, who impressively won the Las Vegas Marathon (GII) on the Breeders’ Cup undercard for trainer Brendan Walsh.

DON’T TELL SOPHIA, MOLLY MORGAN TOP LIST OF 23 FALLS CITY NOMS

Phil Sims and Jerry Namy’s Don’t Tell Sophia and Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan highlight a cast of 23 fillies and mares nominated to the 99th running of the $200,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) to be contested on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27.

Don’t Tell Sophia, who has banked $1,339,295 with a record of 23-11-5-3, captured an upset victory in the Oct. 5 Spinster (GI) at Keeneland and followed that with a runner-up performance in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) where she finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Untapable. The 6-year-old mare by Congaree has provided quite the return on investment for her owners, who purchased her for $1,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She finished second in last year’s Falls City behind Wine Princess.

The Dale Romans-trained Molly Morgan was an impressive 2 ¼-length winner in the $200,000 Chilukki (GII) beneath the Twin Spires on Nov. 1. Prior to that, she finished third behind Don’t Tell Sophia and Ria Antonia in the Spinster at Keeneland and ran second to Don’t Tell Sophia in the Sept. 6 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs. She carries a record of 7-4-6 through 26 starts and has earned $662,407.

Other notable Falls City nominees include Bob Baffert-trained Jojo Warrior, a multiple graded stakes winner of $371,981 who finished third in her last start at Parx in the Cotillion (GI) on Sept. 20; Tiz Windy, winner of the Oct. 4 Indiana Oaks (GII) in her last start for trainer Carl Nafzger; and Canadian-bred Strut the Course, trained by Barbara Minshall, who has won her last three starts by a combined 13 ¾ lengths at Woodbine, including her most recent score in the Maple Leaf (GIII) on Nov. 1.

COX REFLECTS ON LANDMARK YEAR

After capturing a pair of Friday night victories with Angie’s Prim Lady in Race 3 and Runs with Bulls in Race 4, Brad Cox tied trainers Mike Maker and Mark Casse for third place with six wins in the Churchill Downs trainer’s standings. Cox saddled his first graded winner when Carve took the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (GIII) on June 28 and his trainees have amassed $2,216,478 in earnings, a personal best for Cox.

“This has been my biggest year as a trainer by far,” Cox said. “We’ve had a lot more diversity in our clientele this year, which has given us a wider variety of horses. It ranges from a horse like Carve, who was my first graded stakes winner this year, on down to the $5,000 claimers. It’s a little bit of everything which gives us strength in numbers.”

While the Louisville-native Cox has been extremely pleased with the success of his horses in 2014, the conditioner did not mention a local training title to be high on his list of priorities this year.

“I really don’t have it in my plans to try and win a training title,” Cox said. “The main reason being that I only have around 40-45 horses, so when some of these trainers here are carrying between 100 and 120, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to worry about it. If it happens, obviously it would be a great achievement, but if we finished second or third I’d still be very content with it. We finished fourth in the spring here and I thought that was awesome.

“That’s not to say we won’t still be active this meet. There are a lot of horses that ran earlier this meet that I hope to make another start with, and we plan to continue being competitive. But I’m not going to enter any horses with the sole intent of winning a training title.”

Both of Cox’s winners from Friday night were claimed, with Angie’s Prim Lady moving to the barn of trainer Tom Amoss and Runs with Bulls moving into the care of trainer Albert Dodge.

“We were okay with losing them,” Cox said. “We obviously knew that there was a shot of that happening and we were ready to accept it and thought both were very fair deals. We won both races and collected the claiming prices, so we’ll move on and hope to find some more good ones.”

EVENTS THIS WEEK: Sunday marks the return of the Who’s the Champ? Betting Challenge” in the ITW area on the second floor of the Grandstand. The entry fee is $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members). Registration is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Churchill Downs Lounge. $2 Win/Place mythical wagers on Races 3-8. First prize: Fully paid spot in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas (includes a four-night stay in the Orleans Casino plus a $250 travel voucher). Second prize: $500 cash voucher. Third prize: $250 cash voucher. … Churchill Downs is offering free general admission to active or retired members of the United States armed services on Saturday and Sunday this week.

ON THE WORKTAB – Saturday’s Churchill Downs worktab featured a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.80 for Clark Handicap nominee Abraham for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Also breezing five furlongs was West Coast Belle, who went in 1:02.20 for trainer Wayne Catalano. The recent winner of the Rags to Riches is nominated to the Nov. 29 Golden Rod (GII) on closing weekend.

 

Grade I Winner Personal Diary Heads 49 Nominations to Grade II Mrs. Revere

G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing LLC’s Grade I winner Personal Diary headlines a cast of 49 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (Grade II) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Named for the filly that captured four stakes wins under the Twin Spires in the mid-1980s, the Mrs. Revere will be contested at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Personal Diary, trained by Vicki Oliver, was an impressive come-from-behind 2 ¾-length winner of the $300,750 Del Mar Oaks (GI) in August and returned to finish a good third behind impressive Crown Queen in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 11. Overall, the daughter of City Zip has earned $315,636 in 11 starts.

Personal Diary is one of a dozen Mrs. Revere nominees that has earned more than $200,000: Testa Rossi-FR ($470,439), Shanon Nicole ($377,083), Personal Diary ($315,636), Kiss Moon ($266,676), Kiss to Remember ($249,196), Miss Frost ($241,481), Lady Lara-IRE ($236,664), Daring Dancer ($233,080), Distorted Beauty ($224,300), Sandiva-IRE ($219,330), A Little Bit Sassy ($216,614) and Walk Close ($204,200).

Thomas Coleman and James Covello’s Testa Rossi-FR banked a majority of her earnings with a runner-up effort in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI). The multiple Grade III winner from the Chad Brown barn hasn’t started since finishing fourth as the favorite in April’s $500,000 Ashland (GI) at Keeneland.

Connie ApostelosShanon Nicole, trained by Mike Maker, has captured back-to-back stakes wins in the $205,200 Indiana Grand and $200,000 Remington Park Oaks, both on dirt.

Carl Pollard’s Kiss Moon has a pair of stakes wins on turf for trainer Dave Vance: a division of the $75,000 Hatoof at Arlington Park and a gate-to-wire score in the $103,800 TaWee at Indiana Grand.

Maggi Moss’ Kiss to Remember was beaten a neck by Kiss Moon in the TaWee after finishing second in the $500,000 Charles Town Oaks (GIII) over seven furlongs for trainer Tom Amoss.

Dogwood Stables’ Miss Frost has been training locally with Neil Howard. In August, the Curlin filly led every step of the way en route to a 4 ¾-length romp in the $100,000 Riskaverse at Saratoga while under the care of Tom Albertrani.

Ben Sangster and Swettenham Stud’s Lady Lara-IRE got up at the wire after a wide trip in her U.S. debut to land the $200,000 Pebbles at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The Alfredo Callejas-trained Distorted Beauty, Christophe Clement trainee Walk Close and the Todd Pletcher-conditioned Sandiva-IRE were second, third and fourth, respectively.

Sagamore Farm’s Daring Dancer has two graded stakes wins on the year for trainer Graham Motion: the $200,000 Lake George (GII) at Saratoga and $100,000 Appalachian (GIII) at Keeneland. Most recently, the Empire Maker filly was sixth in the $500,000 Sands Point at Belmont Park on Sept. 13.

Ramona Bass’ A Little Bit Sassy crossed the wire first in Churchill Downs’ $111,900 Regret (GIII) on Stephen Foster Handicap Night but was disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch. She returned to finish a head back of Daring Dancer in the Lake George, but has faltered in her last two starts: a fifth in the Sands Point and a ninth in the $150,000 Valley View at Keeneland on Oct. 17.

The Ben Colebrook-trained Sparkling Review, a 2 ¾-length winner of the Valley View for Beverly Anderson and Edward Seltzer, also is nominated to the Mrs. Revere.

Other graded stakes winners nominated to the prestigious grass race are RMJ Stables’ $105,000 Boiling Springs (GIII) winner Munirah and the Joan Scott-trained Speed Seeker, winner of the $154,417 Ontario Colleen (GIII) at Woodbine.

SPEEDINTHRUTHECITY ROLLS IN FRIDAY’S DREAM SUPREME

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Speedinthruthecity got away on the outside, stalked leaders in the early stages and then cruised to a 2 ¾-length victory in Friday’s $61,145 Dream Supreme at Churchill Downs. 

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, the 4-year-old daughter of City Zip sat back as Frabster led through the opening quarter-mile in :22.48 and then Soft Whisper gained the lead after a half-mile in 46.72. The Steve Asmussen-trained Speedinthruthecity took the lead in the stretch and kicked clear under guidance from jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. to complete the six-furlong event in 1:10.78 over a fast track.

Speedinthruthecity rewarded backers with $3.20, $2.60 and $2.60. Soft Whisper held on for second and Table Three Ten was third. Rounding out the order of finish were Vuitton, Sweet Cassiopeia, Thetaloveandmine, Dream S’more and Frabster. Anahauc was scratched and is entered in Saturday’s $200,000-added Chilukki (Grade II).

“She’s a nice filly,” Santana said. “We got broke away from the pack on the outside and were pretty much right where we wanted to be the whole race. I knew going into it that my filly was the class of the race and she proved me right.”

“She ran her race,” Asmussen’s assistant Galen Prewitt said. “I have to say that Santana did an excellent job with her saving ground and she just sat perfectly. You really couldn’t ask for any more than what she gave us. It was a nice win.”

The Dream Supreme win marked the seventh for Speedinthruthecity in 18 starts. She has earned $402,751.

Santana Confident in His Pair of Saturday Breeders' Cup Runners

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will be on a plane shortly after Friday’s Churchill Downs race card, headed to Santa Anita Park where he will ride in his second Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Panama-native will ride Jerry Durant’s Lucky Player in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) and Bourbon Lane StablesBourbon Courage in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI).

Santana has ridden Lucky Player in three of his four starts, most recently to a victory in the Sept. 6 Iroquois (GIII) under the Twin Spires where he won by a neck.

“He’s such a nice horse,” Santana Jr. said. “He was a little green in those first couple of races, but now he’s a grown man. The first day I rode him and he broke his maiden, I had a lot of confidence in that horse. He’s worked well since and he always gives his best.”

Santana’s only defeat on Lucky Player came as a runner-up finish in the Aug. 9 Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile, where Santana said the 2-year-old colt may have been slightly distracted by running under the lights for the first time.

“When I rode him at Prairie Meadows, going a mile, he ran well starting off and I thought he might open up,” Santana said. “That was his first race at night, too. He looked up and saw the lights and then a horse came up on his side and passed us. When he realized the horse was passing he picked up a little bit but it was too late. But he’s matured since then and I think he’ll be ready to go.”

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Lucky Player will break from post position six in the Juvenile and has been given odds of 30-1 on the morning line.

Santana’s first mount on Bourbon Courage also was the colt’s first race at a sprint distance since October 2013. The 6 ½-furlong allowance optional claiming contest resulted in a 3 ¼-length win for Bourbon Courage and Santana at Keeneland on Oct. 3.

“I really think that horse is better off going a little shorter,” Santana said. “I worked that horse twice before going to the Breeders’ Cup. The last time he worked on Monday, he worked three furlongs in :34 like it was nothing. The time before that he worked five furlongs in :59 so he’s been working just so nicely and I have a lot of confidence in him, too.”

Breaking from the far outside in the 14-hole, Bourbon Courage also has been given odds of 30-1 for trainer Kellyn Gorder.

“My two horses are 30-1, but horses don’t know that; they don’t watch TV,” Santana said.

Santana said his favorite part of the Breeders’ Cup was the high level of competition and the excitement of the fans.

“It’s a great experience, seeing so many people there, screaming your name; it’s a big deal,” Santana said. “It’s the best horses, the best trainers and the best riders, which also makes it fun.”

While Santana is confident, he hopes to have luck on his side facing such stiff competition.

“I’m really excited to be there,” Santana said. “Santa Anita is amazing. It’s not going to be easy though, so hopefully I can get some luck on my side. But like I said, I have confidence in my horses, so we’ll see what happens.”

BLOCK WEIGHS IN ON MY OPTION AHEAD OF SATURDAY’S CHILUKKI

Trainer Chris Block will saddle Timothy Keeley’s multiple Grade III winner My Option in Saturday’s $200,000-added Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs with rider Eduardo Perez up.

The 4-year-old filly by Belong to Me is coming off a third-place effort in the Oct. 4 Mari Hulman George at Indiana Grand, which was her first dirt start since April.

While Block said that the one-mile Chilukki probably is the ideal distance for My Option, he acknowledged the filly has made her best efforts on synthetic surfaces.

“She’s probably best going a mile on synthetic,” Block said. “I think if you look at her results it’s pretty obvious but we thought we’d give her a try again on the dirt here Saturday.”

In My Option’s only previous start under the Twin Spires, she finished fourth in the 2013 Falls City Handicap (GII) beaten four lengths going 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

“I thought she ran really well at Churchill last year all things considered,” Block said. “She was kind of coming down at the end of her season there and probably wasn’t necessarily at her best. I feel like I had her peaking last year when she went into Keeneland in her start prior to that, but I thought she ran very credible in the Falls City against some good fillies and she seemed to handle the surface there well.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s Chilukki, Block said he thinks the cooler temperatures probably would work in My Option’s favor, but would have preferred a post position closer to the middle than the far outside.

“I don’t think the cold will affect her at all,” Block said. “Actually, I think horses like running in the cold a little better. As far as the post position, I’d probably rather have been in the six, seven or eight but there’s a long run out of the chute and up the backstretch there. We should be able to get over into a proper position that will hopefully give her a shot when she approaches the quarter pole to make her run. But she’s been doing great and we’re excited looking ahead to Saturday.”

My Option has been made the 6-1 co-third choice for the Chilukki, the ninth of 10 races on Saturday’s Churchill Downs card, with an approximate post time of 7:25 p.m.

Leparoux Ready for His Ninth Breeders' Cup World Championships

Fresh off of collecting his 2,000th career win on Wednesday at Churchill Downs, jockey Julien Leparoux will depart for California upon the conclusion of Thursday’s local racing action to compete in his ninth Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s the world championships,” said Leparoux, who has five Breeders’ Cup mounts over the two days. “Everyone in the world comes and it’s a fun event. I remember watching it as a kid and it’s something that is just really fun and cool to be a part of now.”

Leparoux has won five Breeders’ Cup races in his career: Nownownow (2007 Juvenile Turf), champion Forever Together (2008 Filly & Mare Turf), Furthest Land (2009 Dirt Mile), champion Informed Decision (2009 Filly & Mare Sprint) and champion She Be Wild (2009 Juvenile Fillies).

His three-peat at Santa Anita in 2009 won him the Bill Shoemaker Award as the top jockey at that year’s Breeders’ Cup.

“Obviously, 2009 was my best year,” Leparoux said. “That was a year where we went into it with a lot of good shots and everything sort of came together. We won three so that was definitely my best memory.”

Leparoux’s first Breeders’ Cup mount of 2014 will be in the first race of the Breeders’ Cup, Friday’s Juvenile Turf (GI) aboard Donegal Racing’s Danny Boy for trainer Dale Romans. Leparoux’s first mount on Danny Boy came Oct. 5 in the Bourbon (GIII) at Keeneland where he finished second, beaten a half-length.

“He ran very well at Keeneland,” Leparoux said. “That was the first time on him for me and he closed well. He was still a little green and tried to lay on horses a little bit but the great thing is that now I know him a little bit better. The tough part is the post; we drew the far outside so that’s something that can be very difficult to overcome but I expect him to run well anyway.”

In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), also on Friday, Leparoux will ride Three Chimneys Farm’s Lady Zuzu for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. This will be Leparoux’s first mount on the 2-year-old filly who is a daughter of Dynaformer.

“She was impressive at Keeneland and D. Wayne Lukas just keeps telling me how good she is and how great she’s been doing so I’m excited about her,” Leparoux said.

On Saturday, Leparoux will get the call in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (GI) on Ashbrook Farm’s Southern Honey, whom Leparoux has ridden in seven of her eight starts. The most impressive outing for the 3-year-old filly came in the May 26 Winning Colors (GIII) at Churchill Downs, where she faced and defeated older mares for the first time. Southern Honey followed that with a ninth-place effort in the Aug. 2 Test (GI) at Saratoga, and most recently finished third and second in her last two starts, both Grade II events.

“There were no real excuses for her in the Test,” Leparoux said. “She was making some noise early in the race, and I think that’s part of the reason why she didn’t run any good that day. But she was so big in the earlier part of this year; she beat older mares here at Churchill and she’s bounced back from that Test race with two solid efforts. If she can come back and duplicate what she was doing earlier in the year I think she can be a great filly. But I guess it ultimately depends on how she’s doing on Saturday.”

In Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI), Leparoux will ride Lael StablesAgeless, who was listed as an “also eligible” contender when the initial entries were released. She made the field of 14 after Free as a Bird was scratched from the race.

“We’re excited that she got in,” Leparoux said. “This is a filly that has run great all year. I think the worst she’s finished this year is third. So really she’s been doing all we’ve asked of her and she’s been doing great. The trainer (Arnaud Delacour) tells me she hasn’t missed a beat and I think she’s going to like this race going six-and-a-half furlongs.”

Ageless will have to break from the far outside in post position 14, which Leparoux does not mind.

“I think the outside is probably more preferable than the inside in her race because you are going right in the first part of the race (down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course) so it’s more like being on the inside when you draw the outside,” Leparoux said.

Finally, Leparoux will be on Shadwell Stable’s Sayaad for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI). Leparoux’s only mount on Sayaad came in his last start where he finished third beaten 1 ¼ lengths in the Oct. 4 Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland. He will break from post position 11 in the Mile with morning line odds of 30-1.

“All year, even before the Shadwell Mile, he’s been running decent races,” Leparoux said. “The only one I think he won this year was going seven eighths, but he’s been running good races against very good horses. I don’t think 30-1 is that big of a deal, I mean this is one of the toughest races in the whole Breeders’ Cup so we’ll see. I’ve only ridden him once but from that start and what I’ve seen it seems like he gives everything every race so we’ll see.”

ENCHANTING LISA TO MAKE SECOND DIRT START, THIS TIME VERSUS GRADED COMPANY IN CHILUKKI

Fresh off an allowance win in her debut dirt start at Keeneland, Mort Fink’s Enchanting Lisa will give the dirt another try in Saturday’s $200,000-added Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs.

The half-sister to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan and multiple graded-stakes winner Successful Dan will be facing stiffer competition Saturday, but trainer Charlie LoPresti is optimistic about the move to dirt, after making her first seven starts on either synthetic or grass surfaces.

“When we went to Saratoga with her, she trained really well on the dirt,” LoPresti said. “Jose Lezcano wanted me to run her on the dirt after he breezed her but we ended up going to the grass race because we thought it might be a little easier. So she finished second in that turf race to a nice filly of Jonathan Sheppard’s (Chat). After that Lezcano said, ‘Next time you run this filly run her seven eighths or a mile on the dirt and they won’t be able to catch her.’ So we gave it a try at Keeneland and it ended up working because we won. Rosie Napravnik rode her at Keeneland and after the race she said, ‘I guess your jock was right because I wouldn’t ever run her on anything but dirt again.’

“Saturday is a little bit of an ambitious spot. I wish it was maybe a Grade III. She’s 10-1, which is probably about right on her, but if she hits the board it’s going to really increase her value.”

LoPresti compared her to Successful Dan more than Wise Dan because of her newly discovered dirt ability.

“She reminds me more of Successful Dan than she does Wise Dan,” LoPresti said. “It’s mainly been because of the way she’s been training on the dirt and the way she’s looked on the dirt. But we’re excited for Saturday and we’ll see what happens.”

Enchanting Lisa will break from post position nine in the 10-horse field for the Chilukki, a one-mile dirt contest for fillies and mares that goes as the ninth of 10 races on Saturday’s card with an approximate post time of 7:25 p.m. ET.

ASMUSSEN BARN SEEKING SUCCESS WITH PAIR OF STAKES SPRINTERS

Trainer Steve Asmussen will start a pair of stakes runners at Churchill Downs this weekend, beginning with Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Speedinthruthecity on Friday in the $58,000-added Dream Supreme and culminating with Mike McCarty’s Lemon Drop Dream in Saturday’s $58,000-added Bet on Sunshine.

Both sprinters are coming out of graded stakes performances at Keeneland where Speedinthruthecity finished fourth in the Oct. 4 Thoroughbred Club of America (Grade II) and Lemon Drop Dream finished fourth in the Oct. 3 Phoenix (GIII).

Asmussen assistant Galen Prewitt said Thursday morning that Speedinthruthecity might not have been at her best in the Thoroughbred Club of America, and that he was looking for a big performance from her in the Dream Supreme.

“I know she finished fourth only beaten four lengths but I still think she may have been a little off that day,” Prewitt said. “She came out of the race in good shape though and has been doing well since. I expect her to run better here at her home track on Friday. She’s taking a drop in class and I think this race will set up nicely for her.”

The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip will break from the far outside in post position nine with Ricardo Santana Jr. getting the call. She has been made the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Friday’s six-furlong contest that will go as the eighth of 10 races with an approximate post time of 5:45 p.m.

Prewitt also said that he was happy to draw the inside in post one with Lemon Drop Dream, who will be ridden by Alan Garcia.

“We were happy to get the one-hole with Lemon Drop Dream,” Prewitt said. “He usually runs well when he can get to the lead early and on the rail so I think the race should set up perfectly for him on Saturday.”

Lemon Drop Dream has been made the 7-2 co-second choice for the Bet on Sunshine, which will be the seventh of 10 races with an approximate post of 6:05 p.m.

Click here for a PDF copy of Churchill Downs 10.30.2014 Race Day Notes that include additional statistical information and data.

Churchill Downs' September Meet Concludes 12-Day Run With Encouraging Results,Strong On-Track Performances

The second-consecutive September Meet at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) concluded its 12-date run on Sunday, September 28 with encouraging results and a string of strong performances by the equine and human stars who competed during the brief racing session.

Performances on the track include victories and strong efforts by 2-year-olds whose connections are dreaming of next spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), along with veteran stars taking aim at big races in the fall and, for some, possible trips to California for the Breeders’ Cup Championships. All of the meet’s races involving contests for leading jockey, trainer and owner had dramatic finishes and were not decided until the final races on Sunday’s closing day.

The second year of a new racing product at the home of the Kentucky Derby offered Kentucky horsemen both attractive racing options for their horses on dirt and turf and a daily purse structure that was comparable to the 2013 debut of the track’s September Meet. The meet, which was only the second Churchill Downs racing meet since 1890 to be conducted entirely in the month of September, benefitted from ideal early autumn weather. The main track was rated “fast” on each of the meet’s 12 racing days, and the Matt Winn Turf Course was rated “firm” for all but one of those racing sessions.

Churchill Downs paid total purses of $3,864,487during September’s 12 racing dates for daily average purses of $322,041. A total of 940 horses competed in the meet’s 122 races, and the average field for a race during the meet consisted of 7.7 horses. The average number of horses per race in 2013, also through 122 races, was 8.07.

“We have a pair of September meets behind us and Churchill Downs remains optimistic that this new racing and entertainment product can be successful,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said. “We faced many of the same challenges during this meet that impacted our Spring Meet, including our ongoing concerns about field sizes. Unfortunately, the starters per race was down this year, which is a result of the declining foal crops and increased competition for available horses from other tracks in our region and beyond.

“The positive news is that the Louisville market is becoming more aware of our September Meet and the possibilities it holds for Kentucky horsemen during a beautiful time of year. We look forward to working with the racing commission and the horsemen to address the issue of field sizes so that we can continue to provide this promising product.”

One of the strengths of Churchill Downs’ racing in the latter half of any year is the division of talented and well-bred 2-year-olds stabled at the track, and the opening weekend of the meet cast the spotlight on a pair of juveniles that scored important stakes victories on their respective roads to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), and the major races for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds in the Breeders’ Cup Championships at Santa Anita on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Trainer Steve Asmussen saddled the top two finishers in the $115,500 Iroquois (GIII) when Jerry Durant’s Lucky Player edged stablemate Bold Conquest in the 33rd running of the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, one of four stakes events run on Saturday, Sept. 6. The victory under Ricardo Santana Jr. made the son of Lookin At Lucky an early leader in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point standings that will determine the field for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on May 2, 2015. Along with the 10 points collected for his victory in the opening race in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” standings, Lucky Player’s win also earned an automatic spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 1. For the second consecutive year, the Iroquois was the first race in the “Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In Juvenile Division.”

GSN Racing’s Cristina’s Journey provided trainer Dale Romans his third career victory in the $231,000 Pocahontas (GII) for 2-year-old fillies on the Sept. 6 program, and her front-running triumph offered added-value to the daughter of Any Given Saturday similar to that earned by Lucky Player in the Iroquois. The Pocahontas was the lead-off event of the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points system that will determine the participants in next spring’s 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks and also the first stop on the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Juvenile Fillies Division.” The win under Miguel Mena gave Cristina’s Journey 10 points, an early lead on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” and a guaranteed spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).

Other outstanding September Meet performance were delivered on the meet’s final weekend when Cigar Street held off the late charge of favored Departing to win the second running of the $135,500 Homecoming Classic by 2 ¾-lengths and Canada-based Heart to Heart led from start to finish in the 39th running of the $110,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) for 3-year-olds at one-mile on turf.

Cigar Street, a 5-year-old son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense owned by Jake Ballis and National Basketball Association star Rashard Lewis, improved his career record to 5-1-0 in only eight races. The winner could be a candidate for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), but his owners said that decision would be up to their Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The trainer is the all-time leader in victories and stakes wins at Churchill Downs, and the win by Cigar Street was Mott’s 680th beneath the track’s Twin Spires and his 89th stakes triumph.

Heart to Heart, an Ontario-bred son of English Channel owned by Terry Hamilton, led from the start under Julien Leparoux and rolled to a four-length win in the Jefferson Cup. The Jefferson Cup victory was his second consecutive stakes win and the fifth victory overall for the improving young turf star trained by Bryan Lynch.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Thank You Marylou, who finished fifth to Untapable in this year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks, had a happy return to Churchill Downs when she rolled to a 6 ½-length victory in the 39th running of the $112,000 Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. The daughter of Birdstone is trained by Mike Maker and was ridden by Miguel Mena.

Other strong stakes performances during the September Meet were turned in by Joseph Sutton’s Bradester, who led from the start under jockey Corey Lanerie to win the $107,300 Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) for trainer Eddie Kenneally, and the 6-year-old mare Don’t Tell Sophia, who returned from a six-month layoff to score an emphatic 2 ¼-length victory for trainer Phil Simms and jockey Joe Rocco Jr. in the 31st running $108,200 Locust Grove. The latter, co-owned by Simms and Jerry Namy, defeated Grade I winner On Fire Baby and Grade II winner Molly Malone in her sixth stakes victory.

Asmussen and owner Gillian Campbell collected their second consecutive win in the $111,500 Open Mind when jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. guided Aireofdistinction to victory in the sixth running of that six-furlong race for fillies and mares ages 3 & up.

The results of the leading jockey, trainer and owner races were not settled until late in Sunday’s 10-race closing day program and, in one case, the final yards of the meet’s last race.

Jockey Corey Lanerie, the defending September Meet win leader, and Ricardo Santana Jr. were tied at 13 wins heading into the meet’s 122th and final race. Though both men had a mount, they ended up sharing the title when Paden and jockey Joe Johnson won the meet’s finale. Lanerie led at the head of the stretch aboard Geometry, but finished fourth. Santana and Catchifyoucan rallied late for third. The shared title was Lanerie’s sixth “leading rider” title at Churchill Downs, while Santana earned his first.

"It’s exciting, competitive and frustrating, because you don’t want to get beat, especially when it got to this point,” Lanerie said after the meet’s last race. “I guess if you’ve never been there it’s different but now it’s almost like people expect me to be there in the running at the end. In the grand scheme of things you like to think it doesn’t matter as long as you’re healthy and you’re winning races, but it really does. But it’s a goal and now that I’ve won so many I just want to see how many more I can win and how long I can keep going.”

“Last year that was my dream to win something like this at Churchill Downs,” Santana said. “I want to say thank God first and then thank all the trainers for giving me a chance, because it’s not easy. I would have liked to get one more in that last one, but the best horse won the race. I’m just happy to be here and happy to get the chance to ride good horses.”

Brian Hernandez Jr. finished one win back of the top pair. 

The battle for leading trainer ended in a tie as Steve Asmussen and Wayne Catalano each saddled seven winners. Asmussen extended his record total of Churchill Downs training crowns to 15, but Catalano’s crown was his first. Catalano’s title was special because it was his first at the Louisville track, but also because it was another indication that he has rebounded from a significant health scare earlier in the year resulted in a hospital stay of 22 days.

“I just want to thank the folks here at Churchill Downs and also thank my wife for standing by my side in my time of poor health,” Catalano said. “If you don’t have your health, you don’t really have anything so we’re lucky to be standing here. Today we went in there with good horses and couldn’t get it done outright. So it’s a little tough, but we’ve been through a lot of those and again we’re just happy to be here.”

Dale Romans and Eddie Kenneally finished in a tie for third in the trainers race, one win back of the top pair.

And Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the Nicholasville, Ky. couple who have won more races than any owner in the 140-year history of Churchill Downs, sent seven horses into the winner’s circle during in September for their record-extending 22nd training crown at the home of the Kentucky Derby.

The Ramseys edged Gary and Mary West – who started a meet-high 20 horses – and Maggi Moss, each of whom finished with six victories.

“All I have to say is ‘Wow’,” Ken Ramsey said. “We’ve had a great time here at Churchill Downs over the years; we’ve had our picture taken in this winner’s circle almost 400 times, but we’ve still got one thing on our bucket list and that’s to get our picture made on the inside of that (infield) fence in the (Kentucky) Derby.”

With their seven winners in the September Meet, the Ramseys have 398 career wins at Churchill Downs.

A total of 73 horses were claimed during the September Meet and the claims totaled $1,216,500. The claims resulted in sales tax revenue of $72,990 to the Kentucky State Treasury.

Racing at Churchill Downs will resume following a brief break with its 25-date Fall Meet, which will run from Oct. 26-Nov. 30. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday-Sunday schedule to conclude the second straight year – but only the second overall – during which Churchill Downs has hosted a trio of racing meets in a calendar year.

Aireofdistinction Gives Campbell, Asmussen & Santana Open Mind Repeat

Aireofdistinction battled for the lead midway around the far turn and kicked clear in the final 100 yards to beat late-running Interest Free by 2 ½ lengths in Saturday’s sixth running of the $111,500 Open Mind, a six-furlong listed stakes race for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

Aireofdistinction stopped the teletimer in 1:10.54 over a fast main track to give owner Gillian Campbell, trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. their second straight Open Mind triumph. They teamed to win the event last year with Vuitton, who also was co-owned by Ralph and Shelly Stayer and Andrew Pajak.

Flower Spell, the 3-2 favorite, broke fastest from the gate in the field of six distaffers with Aireofdistinction in close pursuit through a first quarter mile in :22.56. The winner and a looming Janis’s Joy drew even with the leader on the turn and there was a three-way battle for the lead at the top of the stretch after a half-mile in :46.05.

Aireofdistinction battled between horses down the stretch, put away a fading Flower Spell and then kicked clear of Janis’s Joy, who couldn’t keep up with the winner. Interest Free rallied from last to get second by three-quarters of a length over Janis’s Joy.

"She always runs great,” Santana said of the winner. “I know this filly; she’s a nice filly and she always tries hard.”

Aireofdistinction, sent to post at odds of 5-2, returned $7, $4 and $3.40. Interest Free, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., paid $4 and $2.80. Janis’s Joy, under Leandro Goncavles, returned $4.40.

Flower Spell, Rusticana and Afternoon Tango completed the order of finish. Defending champ Vuitton was scratched.

Aireofdistinction, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Songandaprayer out of the Storm Cat mare Clear Distinction, earned $68,439 for the win. This was her second career stakes triumph. The 4-year-old filly also prevailed in the $100,000 Spring Fever this winter at Oaklawn Park.

Overall, Aireofdistinction has won five of her 14 starts with one second and four thirds. Her career earnings now stand at $258,911.

Saturday’s race saluted the late Eugene Klein’s Hall of Fame filly Open Mind, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained winner of the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs who returned to the Louisville track the following spring to win the Kentucky Oaks. The New Jersey-bred filly was an Eclipse Award champion at ages two and three. A winner of 12 races and $1,844,372 in 19 starts, the daughter of Deputy Minister was enshrined in Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

OPEN MIND QUOTES

RICARDO SANTANA JR., jockey of AIREOFDISTINCTION (winner) – “She always runs great. I know this filly; she’s a nice filly and she always tries hard. Mr. (Steve) Asmussen didn’t even give me any directions. He knew she had the speed. She ran her race, and she ran it well.”

DARREN FLEMING, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen of AIREOFDISTINCTION (winner) – “She ran very well. She was sharp today and laid a little closer and finished up nice. She pretty much runs her own kind of race every time; she’s not always in the same spot.”

NEIL HOWARD, trainer of INTEREST FREE (runner-up) – “She ran very well. She’s one of those that’s in-the-middle – she needs seven-eighths to a mile, but she ran well.”

Q: You added blinkers today, but she rallied from well back. Did you expect her to show a little more speed with the equipment change? “We didn’t think it would get her too amped-up. We just wanted her to keep from dropping out the back so far.  We had one piece of the combination, but we needed to go a little further. But I thought she ran great.”

BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., jockey on INTEREST FREE (runner-up) – “She really came running. She ran big. All the way around there we thought we were on the best horse and she made her big run. They just got away from her a little bit and she ran out of ground.

Q: Neil added blinkers for Interest Free today. Did you expect her to be any closer in the early going? “It improved her a little bit, I think. It made her closing run a little harder.  It (the addition of blinkers) didn’t hurt her any, and I think it helped her a little.”