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Stephen Fidel’s Cosmic Evolution turned back a powerful trio of fillies trained by Steve Asmussen to score her first career victory in a 1 ½-length triumph the $100,000 Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday, June 27 at Churchill Downs.
Calvin Borel was aboard the chestnut daughter of Proud Citizen rallied from just off the pace in the six-furlong race and stubbornly held off runner-up Adhara, the Asmussen-trained even-money favorite, for the win. Trained by Lon Wiggins, Cosmic Evolution covered six furlongs in 1:11.89 over a fast track
Cosmic Evolution, the 5-1 fourth choice in the Debutante, paid #$12.60, $3.20 and $2.80. Adhara, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $2.80 and $2.20. Areolite, who had beaten Cosmic Evolution in her prior start in the career debut for both fillies, finished third as the 2-1 second choice under Julien Leparoux and paid $2.20 to show. The third Asmussen-trained filly and third wagering choice Thievery finished fifth.
“We got beat the first time but she needed (the race),” Borel said. “I came back and told Lon that those horses would never beat her again. She stood up to the plate.”
Cosmic Evolution’s Debutante win improved her record to 1-1-0 in two races and the $60,760 winner’s share of the $100,000 purse improved her bankroll to $69,560.
Tia Chuy finished fourth,12 lengths ahead of fifth-place Thievery. Sheza Fine Justice and Langstars Charmer rounded out the field of seven. Don’t Boss Me was a late scratch.
LON WIGGINS, trainer of COSMIC EVOLUTION (winner): “She broke sharp; that really helped. And Calvin (Borel) got her to relax good. When he called on her she came running.
“I’ll have to watch the replay a couple of times because it looked like she was trying to drift out a little bit, pulling on that left rein. But she ran good. She ran real good.”
CALVIN BOREL, jockey on COSMIC EVOLUTION (winner): “I’ve been working her. You know, we got beat the first time but she needed it. I came back and told Lon (Wiggins) that those horses would never beat her again. She stood up to the plate.
“She was trying to drift a little bit with me today. Maybe she was a little bit anxious because, boy, she wanted to run early and I didn’t want her in front today. She relaxed under me and where I wanted her. When I asked her she went on like a good horse. That’s the way you do it.
“Lon told me to do what I want. … We’re worried about the future and down the road where we know she can finish.
“I’m gonna take a little break over the summer to rest up, vacation and heal but I’ll be there (for Cosmic Evolution), don’t you worry about that!”
STEVE ASMUSSEN, trainer of ADHARA (runner-up), AREOLITE (third) and THIEVERY (fifth): “We were second, third and fifth. I was expecting better.”
COREY LANERIE, jockey on ADHARA (runner-up): “She had a good trip on the rail, but I don’t think she was really too enthusiastic about being down there. I think if maybe I could have gotten her outside she would have given me a little more effort down the lane and we could have given the winner a run for it and maybe got by her. But it’s hard to say. At the time that I chose to stay on the rail, the leader was so far off of it in front of me that I couldn’t’ give it up.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey on AREOLITE (third): “I was in a good a spot early. She was traveling good and made a run outside, but she was kind of grinding at the end. She just wasn’t good enough today.”
Douglas Scharbauer’s He’s Comin In Hot preserved his reputation as one of the fastest young horses in North America when he rolled to a 3 ¾-length victory in Saturday’s 114th running of the $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
The Texas-bred son of Early Flyer jumped to a quick early advantage from his inside post and turned back a challenge by runner-up Show Bound in the stretch to win the six-furlong race by two lengths under jockey Jamie Theriot. A 4-5 favorite trained by Bret Calhoun, He’s Comin In Hot covered six furlongs in 1:10.90 over a fast track as he scored his second victory in as many races at Churchill Downs and his second win in four career races.
“He got his feet out under him very well in the first few jumps and was able to clear and not take early pressure,” Calhoun said. “That was my main concern with the one-hole. But I thought he was the kind of horse that could overcome it but you’ve got to have gate speed. He got a comfortable lead.”
He's Comin In Hot returned $3.60, $2.40 and $2.20 as the odds-on favorite in the Bashford Manor. Show Boss, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Julien Leparoux, easily held second and paid $3.20 and $3.20. Patrick Rocks finished third under Corey Lanerie and paid $4.40 to show.
The impressive victory improved I’m Comin In Hot’s career record to 2-1-1 in four races with earnings of $96,510.
He’s Comin In Hot led the Bashford Manor field through sharp fractional times of :22.12, :46.21 and and :58.18. The Steve Asmussen-trained Show Bound was the only rival to offer a challenge to the winner and his runner-up finish left him without a victory after two starts in his young career.
“He ran a good race. The winner had run the fastest races and he continued to so.”
Patrick Rocks finished 3 ¾ lengths back of Show Bound in third, and was followed past the finish by Dothat Dance, Sapphire Storm, Roman’s Chance and Shoot Craps.
BASHFORD MANOR QUOTES
BRET CALHOUN, trainer of HE’S COMIN IN HOT (winner): “He broke very sharp just like he did last time. He got his feet out under him very well in the first few jumps and was able to clear and not take early pressure. That was my main concern with the one-hole. But I thought he was the kind of horse that could overcome it but you’ve got to have gate speed. He got a comfortable lead.
“We’ll take a look at the Sanford next or race at Prairie Meadows on the 18th of July.”
JAMIE THERIOT, jockey on HE’S COMIN IN HOT (winner): “He broke sharp and you know Robby (Albarado on Sapphire Storm) was there and then all of a sudden he disappeared. He was just in a high cruising speed. Down the backside he had his ears pricked. It was easy and I said, ‘It’s over with.’
Q: How concerned were you about drawing the rail? “In his first two starts, he got beat because he didn’t leave (the starting gate). We did a little work with him and he broke really sharp when he broke his maiden. When we drew the one hole I thought if I could get him to leave like he did when he broke his maiden, I wasn’t worried. And he did. He’s getting better. I think he’s going to be a nice horse.”
STEVE ASMUSSEN, trainer of SHOW BOUND (runner-up): “He ran a good race. The winner had run the fastest races and he continued to so.”
Q: But a promising effort for Show Bound? “Absolutely. It was just his second out and he ran solid.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey on SHOW BOUND (runner-up): “He ran a good race. He was just second-best today. He put me in the race fine and he sat second there. I came to (He’s Comin In Hot) at the quarter and I thought maybe we were going to keep going, but he came again. We were just second-best.”
Four-time Bashford Manor-winning trainer Steve Asmussen relishes the opportunity to try Jerry Durant’s maiden Show Bound on dirt in Saturday night’s 114th renewal of the six-furlong sprint for juveniles.
Show Bound, a Kentucky-bred son of Warrior’s Reward out of the Hennessy mare Spanish Cat, weakened to third in his career debut on June 7 at Belmont Park, a five-furlong sprint on grass. Sent to post as the $1.55-1 favorite in a field of seven, Show Bound was hooked in a speed duel from the inside with eventual winner and Bashford Manor rival Shoot Craps, who shook free with an eighth of a mile to run. Show Bound finished 2 ½ lengths back in third.
So does Asmussen, a 14-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs, expect Show Bound to move forward on Saturday?
“Yes, more than anything because of the move to the dirt,” Asmussen said. “We went through a weird little lull here right in the middle of the meet where we couldn’t get a (2-year-old) maiden race to go for about three weeks and that’s why he ran in New York on the grass. I wanted to get a race into him before the Bashford Manor. I wasn’t trying to get a Warrior’s Reward a win on the turf; I wanted a race in him because he’s a big, heavy colt that I thought would need one.”
On Saturday night, Shoot Craps will break from post five as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line with Show Bound on the outside in the field of eight 2-year-olds as the 5-2 third choice. Churchill Downs maiden winner He’s Comin in Hot is the 9-5 favorite and breaks from the rail.
“(An) inside (draw) versus outside is all dependent on the individual and I don’t think that bothers our horse at all,” said Asmussen, who also entered Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen’s Sapphire Storm. “Show Bound doesn’t show a preference either way in the mornings. He’s a very mature horse, mentally and physically.”
A Bashford Manor win by Asmussen on Saturday would equal Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ record for the race. Asmussen won previous runnings of the storied race with Lunarpal (2004), Kodiak Kowboy (2007), Kantharos (2010) and Cinco Charlie (2014).
SKY FLIGHT GETS NEEDED RACE IN FIRECRACKER – John C. Oxley’s Sky Flight is one of the more intriguing entrants in Saturday’s 26th running of the $200,000 Firecracker (Grade II) at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course. The lightly-raced 4-year-old will break from post 2 and is the 7-2 third choice on Mike Battaglia’s morning line. Not at original nominee, Sky Flight was supplemented to the race for $6,000.
The Firecracker will be Sky Flight’s first race in 154 days. He hasn’t raced since a third-place finish behind Lochte and Old Time Hockey in the $150,000 Tampa Bay (GIII) on Jan. 24. In his previous start on Dec. 20, the Kentucky-bred son of Sky Mesa beat 12 rivals to win the $75,000 Tropical Park Derby. Overall, Sky Flight has won three of five starts and $120,455.
“Really, we want to give him a race before heading up to Saratoga,” said Norman Casse, who runs the Kentucky string for his father Mark. “He was in last week but the race came off the grass (and was scratched). You know, if he runs his best race he can win the race. More or less, we just want to give him a race before we head up north.”
BASHFORD MANOR – The field (from the rail out with jockeys and morning line odds) for Saturday’s 114th running of the $100,000 Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs (Race 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET): He’s Comin in Hot (Jamie Theriot, 9-5); Patrick Rocks (Victor Carrasco, 10-1); Roman’s Chance (Miguel Mena, 20-1); Dothat Dance (James Graham, 20-1); Shoot Craps (Deshawn Parker, 2-1); Justanothermorgan (Aaron Court, 20-1); Sapphire Storm (Robby Albarado, 10-1); and Show Bound (Julien Leparoux, 5-2).
DEBUTANTE – The field (from the rail out with jockeys and morning line odds) for Saturday’s 115th running of the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs (Race 7 at 9:05 p.m. ET): Langstars Charmer (Jareth Loveberry, 10-1); Adhara (Corey Lanerie, 2-1); Tia Chuy (Deshawn Parker, 20-1); Sheza Fine Justice (Cory Orm, 20-1); Cosmic Evolution (Calvin Borel, 5-1); Areolite (Julien Leparoux, 5-2); Thievery (Robby Albarado, 9-2); and Don’t Boss Me (Didiel Osorio, 6-1).
FIRECRACKER – The field (from the rail out with jockeys and morning line odds) for Saturday’s 26th running of the $200,000 Firecracker (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course (Race 8 at 9:39 p.m. ET): Frac Daddy (Corey Lanerie, 5-2); Sky Flight (Julien Leparoux, 7-2); Skip By (Rafael Hernandez, 20-1); R. Great Adventure (Jamie Theriot, 15-1); Hammers Terror (Robby Albarado, 5-1); Knights Nation (Brian Hernandez Jr., 6-1); Departing (Miguel Mena, 3-1); Medal Count (James Graham, 15-1); and Skyring (Joe Rocco Jr., 15-1).
KELLY’S LANDING – The field (from the rail out with jockeys and morning line odds) for Saturday’s sixth running of the $70,000-added Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs (Race 9 at 10:11 p.m. ET): Good Lord (Miguel Mena, 15-1); Schivarelli (Corey Lanerie, 4-1); Souper Knight (Robby Albarado, 8-1); Stealcase (Rafael Hernandez, 8-1); Guns Loaded (Jon Court, 8-1); Ruble (Julien Leparoux, 5-1); Agent Di Nozzo (Joe Rocco Jr., 6-1); Russellin (Francisco Torres, 8-1); Brewing (James Graham, 12-1); Viva Majorca (Brian Hernandez Jr., 9-2); and Championofjustice (Jack Gilligan, 30-1).
ALL-STAKES 50-CENT PICK 4 ON SATURDAY NIGHT – Churchill Downs Racetrack will offer a special all-stakes 50-cent Pick 4 on Races 6-9 Saturday, comprising the Grade III, $100,000 Bashford Manor (Race 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET); $100,000 Debutante (Race 7 at 9:05 p.m. ET); Grade II, $200,000 Firecracker (Race 8 at 9:39 p.m. ET); and $70,000-added Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes (Race 9 at 10:11 p.m. ET). The ultra-competitive sequence, which asks bettors to pick the winners in each race, features 36 runners.
SATURDAY NIGHT’S ‘DOWNS AFTER DARK’ THEME IS ‘BOOTS, BREW & BBQ’ – The theme for Saturday night’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.” is “Boots, Brew & BBQ” in which guests are encouraged to break out their best cowboy and cowgirl duds to enjoy draft beer, specialty cocktails, BBQ food trucks, mechanical bull rides, “Bet or No Bet Presented by Thorntons” (Races 6-9) and live music by Nashville artist Justin Adams. Admission gates open Saturday at 5 p.m. ET and the first of 11 races is 6 p.m. ET with the season finale set for 11:10 p.m. ET. General admission for Saturday night’s Spring Meet finale under the lights is $10. Reserved seats can be purchased in advance online at www.ChurchillDowns.com.
SATURDAY IS CLOSING NIGHT – Saturday is the final day of a memorable 38-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs. Racing on the Kentucky circuit shifts to Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. for a 31-day meet that begins Friday, July 3. Racing will be staged there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:50 p.m. ET through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.
Simulcast wagering at Churchill Downs will be offered on the second floor of the Clubhouse in the ITW area this Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. ET and will move to The Parlay (located just inside the Gate 1 entrance) on Wednesday, July 1. Simulcast wagering will remain there through Labor Day. Free admission for simulcasting will be offered every Wednesday as well as Thursday, July 2; Thursday, July 9; and Monday, July 27. Popular summer signals Del Mar and Saratoga begin Thursday, July 16 and Friday, July 24, respectively.
Live racing returns to Churchill Downs on Thursday, Sept. 10 for a 12-day September Meet every Thursday-Sunday for three weeks through Sunday, Sept. 27.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has entered a trio of 2-year-old fillies – Adhara, Areolite and Thievery – in an attempt to collect his fifth victory in the $100,000 Debutante (Listed), which is one of four stakes events on Saturday’s 11-race “Downs After Dark” closing night program at Churchill Downs’ 38-day Spring Meet.
The 115th running of the six-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies landed eight entries. The Debutante will go as Race 7 at approximately 9:05 p.m. ET.
Winchell Thoroughbreds own and bred Adhara and Aerolite, a pair of debut winners at Churchill Downs.
Adhara, a daughter of Cowboy Cal out of the Tapit mare Tapatia, crushed well-backed Assoulin by 6 ¾ lengths in her May 28 bow, a 5 ½-furlong race clocked in 1:04.96.
Areolite, a gray/roan daughter of Tapit out of the Gone West mare Catera, beat fellow Debutante entrant Cosmic Evolution by one length in a five-furlong maiden special weight on May 21 in :58.82 as the even-money favorite.
Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Thievery, a Texas-bred daughter of Valid Expectations, won her debut at Indiana Grand, a 4 ½-furlong sprint on May 12 in which she defeated Dad’s Kiddo by the 2 ¾ lengths. The runner-up returned two weeks later to win by 6 ¾ lengths.
A Texas-bred has won the last two Debutantes: Fiftyshadesofgold (2013) and Promise Me Silver (2014), who were conditioned by Bret Calhoun.
A win by Asmussen on Saturday would equal Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s five-win Debutante record. Asmussen’s previous success in the race came with Cashier’s Dream (2001), Effectual (2005), Richwoman (2006) and Rated Fiesty (2007).
Cosmic Evolution, a daughter of Proud Citizen owned by Stephen Fidel and trained by Lon Wiggins, has piqued the interest of Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, who has ridden sparingly since he sustained a foot injury in a May 30 training mishap. He’s back in the saddle Saturday night after setting the pace aboard her in the race against Areolite only to be outrun down the lane at odds of 19-1.
The field for the Debutante from the rail out (with jockey): Langstars Charmer (Jareth Loveberry); Adhara (Corey Lanerie); Tia Chuy (Deshawn Parker); Sheza Fine Justice (Cory Orm); Cosmic Evolution (Borel); Areolite (Julien Leparoux); Thievery (Robby Albarado); and Don’t Boss Me (Didiel Osorio).
Runaway maiden winner He’s Comin in Hot headlines a field of eight 2-year-old colts and geldings entered in Saturday night’s 114th running of the $100,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III), one of four stakes events on the 11-race “Downs After Dark” closing night program of Churchill Downs’ 38-day Spring Meet.
The six-furlong Bashford Manor – one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races – will go as Race 6 at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET and kicks off an all-stakes Pick 4 that also includes the $100,000 Debutante (Listed); $200,000 Firecracker (GII); and $70,000-added Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes. Saturday’s first race is 6 p.m. ET.
Douglas Scharbauer’s He’s Comin in Hot enters the Bashford Manor 15 days after scoring a sharp, front-running five-furlong maiden special weight victory at Churchill Downs by 4 ½ lengths in :57.96. It took three tries for the Texas-bred son of Early Flyer to notch his first win but the Bret Calhoun-trailed gelding was impressive, repulsing a challenge on the turn and drawing away down the stretch.
Calhoun began Wednesday as the national leader in 2-year-old wins with 14, including three of nine juvenile starters at Churchill Downs.
A trio of invaders – two that exit a maiden grass race in New York and another from Maryland – might pose the biggest threats.
PTK LLC’s Shoot Craps, trained by Dane Kobiskie, and Jerry Durant’s Show Bound, conditioned by Steve Asmussen, ran first and third, respectively, in a five-furlong turf sprint on June 7 at Belmont Park. Shoot Craps and Show Bound were hooked in a speed duel from the outset with the winner racing on the outside and shaking free leaving the eighth the pole.
Show Bound, the $1.55 favorite that day, could benefit from an outside draw Saturday. Asmussen, who also has entered Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen’s Sapphire Storm, has won the Bashford Manor four times – Lunarpal (2004), Kodiak Kowboy (2007), Kantharos (2010) and Cinco Charlie (2014) – and another victory would equal Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ record for the race.
Patrick Rocks, owned by Hidden Hill Farm and Herman M. Braude, invades from Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course after winning a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight in stalking fashion by one length. His trainer, John “Jerry” Robb, had Bashford Manor success two years ago with Debt Ceiling.
The Bashford Manor field from the rail out (with jockeys): He’s Comin in Hot (Jamie Theriot); Patrick Rocks (Victor Carrasco); Roman’s Chance (Miguel Mena); Dothat Dance (James Graham); Shoot Craps (Deshawn Parker); Justanothermorgan (Aaron Court); Sapphire Storm (Robby Albarado); and Show Bound (Julien Leparoux).
Patrick Rocks, Roman’s Chance and Shoot Craps were supplemented to the race for $3,000 each. Justanothermorgan will race with blinkers off.
First run in 1902, the Bashford Manor is named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American racing scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor Farm in 1887 and developed his Thoroughbred operation that provided him two Derby wins as an owner, 1892 (Azra) and 1906 (Sir Huon), and three as a breeder, 1892 (Azra), 1899 (Manuel) and 1906 (Sir Huon). In addition, Bashford Manor also won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894 (Selika) and 1915 (Kathleen). The original Wilder family owned Bashford Manor. The Wilders were direct descendants of Lord Baltimore, whose English home was also called Bashford Manor. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003.
Robert Luttrell’s Promise Me Silver returned to the work tab Sunday morning with a half-mile breeze in :49 after the renovation break at 8:30 a.m. ET. This was the Texas-bred daughter of Silver City’s first breeze since finishing 10th as the 7-2 second choice in the June 6 Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park. It was her first defeat in nine career starts.
Jockey Robby Albarado was in the irons for the 3-year-old filly’s breeze for trainer Bret Calhoun, who was in Texas for the weekend overseeing his string at Lone Star Park.
“She went good and she felt great,” Albarado said following the work.
Albarado was not aboard Promise Me Silver for her most recent start in the Acorn, as he had already committed to riding Shook Up, second in this year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), who was eased and vanned off the track in that race.
“The last time she ran, they both had awful trips,” Albarado said. “My filly [Shook Up] and she [Promise Me Silver] had a tough trip herself. She stumbled really badly and had to rush up there to the front.”
Calhoun also blamed her most recent effort on the bad trip.
“She broke real bad and had to rush from sixth to first,” Calhoun said via telephone. “I think you can throw that race out. We broke fast way too early.”
Calhoun confirmed that her next start would come in the $150,000 Victory Ride (GIII) at Belmont Park on July 4, where she will be shortening back up to 6 ½ furlongs.
“Going back into this upcoming race, we feel very confident,” Albarado said. “I do for sure, after the work this morning it was really nice. She came back good. I think she will stretch out fine, she rates kindly. I’ve sat behind a couple horses with her a couple of times.”
ASMUSSEN LOOKS TO CONTINUE SUCCESS WITH 2-YEAR-OLDS – Trainer Steve Asmussen is no stranger to success with 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs, and he will be looking to continue such success on Saturday. Asmussen plans to start Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Areolite and Adhara in the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) for 2-year-old fillies, and Erv Woolsley and Keith Asmussen’s Sapphire Storm and Jerry Durant’s Show Bound in the $100,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) for 2-year-olds. Both races are run at six furlongs on the main track.
Both Areolite and Adhara are coming into the race off maiden victories at Churchill Downs, winning by one length and 6 ¾ lengths, respectively. The latter of the two breezed a half-mile in :50.20 Sunday.
Both fillies look to give Asmussen his fifth win in the Debutante, which would tie Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s five-win record in this race. His previous success in the Debutante came with Cashier’s Dream (2001), Effectual (2005), Richwoman (2006) and Rated Fiesty (2007).
Sapphire Storm will enter the Bashford Manor off a maiden victory second time out at Indiana Grand, with his first race being a third-place effort against Texas-breds at Lone Star Park. Still a maiden, Show Bound will make his second start in the Bashford Manor after finishing third in his June 7 debut on the Belmont Park turf.
Like the Debutante, Asmussen is looking for his fifth Bashford Manor victory which would tie Lukas’s record in the race. Asmussen has found previous success in the Bashford Manor with Lunarpal (2004), Kodiak Kowboy (2007), Kantharos (2010) and Cinco Charlie (2014).
“I think they’ll handle it [the distance] real well,” Asmussen said. “This year, it seems like we have some really nice 2-year-olds. I hope that this success continues on.”
Other probables for the Debutante include Cosmic Evolution (second behind Areolite last time out), Langstars Charmer, Sheza Fine Justice and Tia Chuy. Probables for the Bashford Manor include Dothat Dance, He’s Comin In Hot and Justanothermorgan.
COURT ENJOYING SPRING MEET SUCCESS AT 54 – Veteran jockey Jon Court reflected on his successful Spring Meet at Churchill Downs. Highlighted by G. Watts Humphrey’s Frivolous in last Saturday’s Fleur de Lis Handicap (Grade II), the 54-year-old jockey entered Sunday’s action with 17 victories and had been in the money 31-percent of the time.
“I’ve had a good meet, with Frivolous and then I came back with Honey Lake the next day,” Court said. “I’m glad to be back because this time last year, I was sidelined with a significant injury that was questionable if I would even make it back.”
Last year, Court’s hand was shattered in a riding accident that occurred in the final race on Kentucky Derby Day.
“They had to reconstruct it and do some harvesting of my body and take some biologic material and go in and reconstruct my hand,” Court said. “I feel fortunate and blessed. I’ve had an enormous amount of horsemen rally around me and support me and they got me back in the winner’s circle on a consecutive basis, so I am happy about it.”
Court believes that he exceeded his expectations for the Spring Meet.
“I was just happy to get back and see where it would take me,” he said. “But I’ve come back and have proven to be just as competitive as the rest of the guys in here. I was able to come back and continue to ride well and produce winning results so I’m very ecstatic about it. I’m very happy to be back and be in action. I’ve been enjoying it and so I’m much more appreciative of it.”
Following the conclusion of the Spring Meet, Court will primarily ride at Ellis Park along with many other jockeys currently based at Churchill.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Stonestreet Stable’s Keen Pauline returned to the work tab Sunday morning going a half-mile in :47.20 for trainer Dale Romans, who remained unsure as to the next start for the homebred daughter of Pulpit. Her last race was a victory in the May 15 Black Eyed Susan (Grade II). … Carl Pollard’s Kiss Moon breezed a half-mile in :49 for trainer David Vance. This was the daughter of Malibu Moon’s first work since her victory in the Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) on June 6. … Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing breezed a half-mile in :47.40 in preparation for Saturday’s $70,000-added Kelly’s Landing obernight stakes. … The Kenny McPeek-trained duo of Flashy American and 2013 Travers Stakes (GI) winner Golden Ticket also breezed four furlongs Sunday. The former worked a bullet:46.80 and Golden Ticket was timed in :49.40.
Juddmonte Farms’ Fame and Power and Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Bold Conquest, who ran one-two in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico, will meet again Saturday in the 18th running of the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.
Fame and Power broke his maiden at Santa Anita in March going seven furlongs before running third behind Lael Stables’ Divining Rod and Regis Racing’s Donworth in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland on April 11. The son of First Defence returned emphatically a month later to easily beat Bold Conquest by three lengths in the Sir Barton with Donworth a nose back in third.
Fame and Power’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert looks to extend his record number of victories in the Matt Winn to five. He won the race (formerly known as the Northern Dancer from its inaugural running in 1998 through 2011) with Shot of Gold (1998), Forestry (1999), Danthebluegrassman (2002) and Code West (2012).
Victor Espinoza will take the reins on Fame and Power, who boasts a record of 7-2-2-1—$145,610. He’ll break from post five in the field of eight and was made the 6-5 morning line favorite by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.
Bold Conquest was on the Derby trail earlier in the year having run against American Pharoah in the Rebel Stakes (GII) and Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn Park. The son of Curlin ran third and fourth, respectively, behind the eventual Triple Crown winner in those two races prior to his runner-up effort behind Fame and Power. His only other start at Churchill Downs was a second behind stablemate Lucky Player in the Iroquois (GIII) last September. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Matt Winn three times: Compendium (2001), Pyro (2008) and Tapiture (2014).
Also entered to compete in the Matt Winn is Holy Cow Stables’ Henry Jones, fourth in the Sir Barton for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The son of Temple City broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last September going seven furlongs.
The only other horse in the field with a victory over the Churchill Downs main track is Six Column Stables’, Randall Bloch, John Seiler, and David Hall’s Island Town who is coming off of a victory in a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming event on Kentucky Derby Day. Last October, the son of Hard Spun broke his maiden at Churchill beating Danzig Moon, who was fifth in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
Rounding out the Matt Winn are Godolphin Racing’s Alabaster; coming off a fourth-place finish in an allowance race at Arlington International last week, Harlow Stables’ Phenomenal Phoenix, third last time out in the Illinois Derby (GIII) at Hawthorne on April 18 and will be making his first start for his owners and new trainer Ron Moquett, and Mellon Patch, Inc.’s Private Prospect who was a well-beaten sixth last time out in the Illinois Derby (GIII) on April 18 for trainer Michael Campbell.
The Matt Winn field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): Phenomenal Phoenix (Joel Rosario, 8-1); Island Town (Julien Leparoux, 6-1); Nileator (Javier Castellano, 8-1); Private Prospect (Channing Hill, 20-1); Fame and Power (Espinoza, 6-5); Henry Jones (Mike Smith, 12-1); Bold Conquest (Ricardo Santana Jr., 5-2); and Alabaster (James Graham, 15-1).
The Matt Winn is scheduled as Race 9 at 10:13 p.m. on Churchill Downs’ 11-race “Downs After Dark” card.
Street Story rated from the outside, grabbed the lead from 3-2 favorite Spring Included at the top of the stretch and turned back a late charge by Heykittykittykitty to win Monday’s 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) by 1 ½ lengths on Memorial Day at Churchill Downs.
Street Story, a 4-year-old filly owned by Carrol Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm, sprinted six furlongs over a sloppy main track in 1:10.39 en route to defeating nine other fillies and mares. Florent Geroux rode the winner for trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the inaugural running in 2004 with Grade I-winner Lady Tak.
“She always tries hard and today she ran very well,” Asmussen’s assistant Darren Fleming said.
Defending champ Southern Honey, the 5-2 second choice who made her first start in the mud, broke alertly and led the field through the first quarter mile in :21.90 while racing from the inside. She began to retreat, and Spring Included asserted herself around the turn after a half in :45.38, with Street Story in close pursuit from the outside.
As they straightened out at the head of the stretch, Street Story poked her head in front and gamely edged clear down the stretch. Heykittykittykitty closed well down the stretch but was unable to bridge the gap.
The victory was worth $58,900 and improved Street Story’s earnings to $339,430 with a record of 13-5-2-1.
This was her second graded stakes win and fourth stakes win overall. Last June, Street Story prevailed in the $150,000 Victory Ride (GIII) at Belmont Park after taking the $100,000 Dixie Belle and $100,000 Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park in early 2014.
Street Story returned $17.60, $7.60 and $4.60 as the 7-1 fourth betting choice. Heykittykittykitty, ridden by Didiel Osorio, paid $7 and $4.60. Spring Included, under Joe Rocco Jr., was another 1 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up and returned $2.60.
Milam, Enchanting Lisa, You Bought Her, Pistolpackinpenny, Toni’s Hollyday, Southern Honey and Boss Barney’s Babe completed the order of finish.
Street Story is a dark bay or brown 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry-IRE out of the Tale of the Cat mare Perfect Story. She was bred in Kentucky by John C. Oxley.
The Winning Colors is named in honor of Eugene Klein’s Winning Colors, the most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby when she beat the boys in the 114th running of the Run for the Roses in 1988 for the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.
After dark days on Tuesday and Wednesday, racing at Churchill Downs resumes Thursday with an eight-race twilight program that begins at 5 p.m.
WINNING COLORS QUOTES
FLORENT GEROUX, jockey of STREET STORY (winner): “We had a great trip on the outside. When I rode her at Fair Grounds she was stuck on the inside and she almost jumped the fence. She was really claustrophobic on the inside. I was pretty much sure I could win this stakes. I had to keep her on the clear as much as possible and it went great. I had a good enough post to do so and I took advantage of it. I had the 8-5 favorite next to me when I squeezed mine just before the quarter pole. I pretty much knew I had it.”
DARREN FLEMING, asst. trainer of STREET STORY (winner): “She’s been training very well here at Churchill; she had some good works. She was annihilated [in the Carousel], she had no shot. The start cost her that race. When you bring her over here she tries hard every time. I didn’t think [the off track] hurt her; she had run on it before. She won on it at Oaklawn once before.”
RON MOQUETT, trainer of HEYKITTYKITTYKITTY (runner-up): “She ran really well. I was proud of her. That was a really good group of horses and I think could probably rack ‘em up again and come out with a different result. I was very happy for the owners (Westrock Stables LLC). She ran well for them and now she’s graded stakes-placed.”
DIDIEL OSORIO, jockey on HEYKITTYKITTYKITTY (runner-up): “She ran really good. She ran hard but just couldn’t catch the winner. I thought I had a shot at the head of the stretch, but she finished well against good horses.”
STEVE HOBBY, trainer of SPRING INCLUDED (third): “She uncharacteristically kind of shut it down there at the end. That’s not like her. She tried. She still was game. But she usually digs a little harder there at the end. I was a little disappointed in her last hundred yards.”
Q: Was the wet track a concern for you? “Not really. She’s won in the slop before. In fact, she’s won at Churchill in the slop before.”
JOE ROCCO JR., jockey on SPRING INCLUDED (third): “She ran really big. She ran three really big races at Oaklawn in a row. It was no disgrace. What did she get beat – three lengths in a Grade III? It’s a long summer. I’m still proud of her.”
GEORGE “RUSTY” ARNOLD, trainer of SOUTHERN HONEY (ninth as 5-2 second choice): “It’s a long time off. The race didn’t go exactly like I thought it would. I don’t know about the surface, I’m not using it as an excuse I just don’t know. She’s out of a Carson City mare so she should like it, but doesn’t mean they’ll like it. It was probably a little fast but you know how this track gets, they’ll do that. I think they did that in an earlier race that might not have been a top race. I’m disappointed right now, but if she comes back good and my objectives are a little bit further a long, so it’s not the end of the world.”
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Untapable, winner of last year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), returned to the work tab Monday, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60 – her third published workout since winning Oaklawn Park’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) by 2 ½ lengths on April 10.
On Tuesday, trainer Steve Asmussen shipped the 4-year-old daughter of Tapit to Belmont Park to further prepare for her next start in the $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI) at 1 1/16 miles on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard. Overall, Untapable boasts a career record of 13-9-1-1—$3,416,725 and she’ll vie for the sixth Grade I victory of her career.
Also on the work tab for Asmussen and owner Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC was Tapiture who worked four furlongs in :49.60. The multiple graded stakes-winning son of Tapit is entered in Friday’s Pimlico Special (GIII), but Asmussen says he’ll scratch out of the race and be targeted to the $200,000 Lone Star Handicap (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on Memorial Day, May 25.
“Both of those horses worked well and are very easy to be around,” Asmussen said.
VETERAN TORRES COLLECTS THREE-BAGGER SUNDAY – Veteran jockey Francisco Torres had a big day on Sunday afternoon, having scored three victories on the 10-race card with Ultimo Trago ($19.60), Give Me Thy Heart ($6.80) and Double Rah Rah ($9.20). Torres, who has been riding since age 16, stated that it was a good feeling to have so many victories on one card because days like that do not come often.
“They’re hard to come by,” Torres said. “It’s a tough meet because you’ve got a lot of good riders and the opportunities are slim, especially when there are so many good riders. When you win one let alone three, it’s a blessing and we got lucky, too.”
Torres admitted he was worn out at the end of the day after riding seven mounts on Sunday, but that having such a successful day makes it worthwhile.
“At the end of the day it was a good day, but being that I had ridden that many, I got dehydrated going into the last race (aboard Double Rah Rah),” he said. “My body was telling me, ‘Hey, it’s taking a toll on you.’ It was hot, but it turned out to be a good day. It’s awesome to be able to come home and say, ‘Wow it was a good day.’”
Torres is not scheduled to ride any horses on Churchill Downs’ Thursday twilight card, but has four mounts on both Friday and Saturday afternoon.
ADVANCE PREAKNESS WAGERING AVAILABLE FRIDAY – Fans attending Churchill Downs on Friday can advance wager all day on a simulcast of Saturday’s 140th running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, featuring Kentucky Derby 1-2-3 American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund.
The Preakness from Pimlico Race Course near Baltimore will be run Saturday at approximately 6:18 p.m., about 28 minutes after Churchill Downs’ final race of day. The Preakness, along with other select stakes from Pimlico, will be shown on Churchill Downs’ video board between live races.
In addition to advance wagering on the Preakness, fans can place wagers Friday on the unique multi-day $1 Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Double. Post time for Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan is 4:50 p.m. ET.
Gates open Friday at 11:30 a.m. and the first of nine races at Churchill Downs is 12:45 p.m.
TRENDING – Julien Leparoux led all riders with eight wins last week (May 7-10) to take a 13-9 lead in the jockey standings over seven-time champ Corey Lanerie. Lanerie served a four-day suspension last week for a careless riding infraction aboard Susie’s Baby at Keeneland on April 23. He returns to the saddle Thursday with four scheduled mounts. … Chris Hartman and Mike Maker each won three races last week. Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher begin the week atop the trainer standings with six wins and are followed by Mark Casse and Maker with five apiece. Hartman, Dale Romans and Ian Wilkes have won four races through the first 10 days of the 38-day meet.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Churchill Downs has a new special box seat package for the Preakness Stakes simulcast on Saturday. For $24, fans can get a box seat in Section 314, an official program, one domestic beet or souvenir soda and a custom Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt. … Harry T. Rosenblum and Robert V. LaPenta’s Far Right breezed a half mile over a fast main track Thursday morning in :48.40 – his first work since a 15th-place effort in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). Trainer Ron Moquett has a trio of 1 1/16-mile races under consideration for the 3-year-old: the $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on June 20, $250,000 Iowa Derby (GIII) at Prairie Meadows on June 27, and $500,000 Indiana Derby (GII) at Indiana Grand on July 18. … Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 over the firm Matt Winn Turf Course. … Charles E. Fipke’s Golden Soul, second in last year’s Kentucky Derby, worked four furlongs in: 49.60 on turf. … Effective immediately, valet parking at Churchill Downs will return to Gate 10 and is $10 daily. … Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger returns to Churchill Downs on Sunday for a Churchill Charlie birthday bash and bike helmet giveaway by Kosair’s Children’s Hospital. General admission to Churchill Downs is $3 but wristbands that include admission are required to access Family Adventure Day activities. They can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com for $8 until 10:45 a.m. Sunday or $10 at the gate on the day of the event. One dollar of every ticket purchased will benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. …Gary Palmisano will join Darren Rogers as co-host for Saturday’s “Inside Churchill Downs” on ESPN 680/105.7 from 10-11 a.m. Palmisano is subbing for Churchill Downs’ John Asher, who’ll be in Bowling Green, Ky. to attend his daughter Erin’s graduation ceremony from the honors college at Western Kentucky University. She graduates with a degree in international business and continues to outrun her father’s pedigree.
Undefeated Blofeld Tops Field of Six for "Opening Night's'" Inaugural William Walker as Churchill Downs Opens Derby Week, 38-Day Spring Meet
Glencrest Farm and JSM Equine’s Blofeld, perfect in three career starts that includes victories in the Nashua (GII) and Futurity (GII), tops a field of six 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for Saturday night’s first running of the $100,000 William Walker at six furlongs on the main track.
The $100,000 William Walker is a new six-furlong race for 3-year-olds named for African-American jockey and 1877 Kentucky Derby winner William “Billy” Walker and highlights “Opening Night Presented by Stella Artois & Finlandia Vodka” that launches Kentucky Derby Week and the 38-day 2015 Spring Meet.
The William Walker will go as the seventh race on Saturday’s 11-race program that has a first post time of 6 p.m. (ET). Post time for the William Walker is 9:05 p.m.
Gates open at 5 p.m. and guests entering through Gates 10 and 17 will be welcomed with an opportunity to walk the “Hollywood Style Red Carpet” and be interviewed by Red Carpet hosts. Dress to impress cocktail attire and fashionable headwear are encouraged. The night’s entertainment lineup will include Sam Sneed on the Plaza Stage beginning at 5 o’clock and Tony and the Tan Lines beginning at 8.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Blofeld has not raced since his Nashua victory in November. John Velazquez, who has ridden the Quality Road colt in all of his starts, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position two.
Two other stakes winners are in the field: Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie and Starsky Weast’s Weast Hill.
Cinco Charlie, who is undefeated in two starts in Churchill Downs including a victory in last June’s Bashford Manor, is trained by Steve Asmussen. In addition to his Bashford Manor victory, Cinco Charlie has posted stakes victories at Delaware Park, Laurel, Fair Grounds and Sunland Park and was third to Blofeld in the Futurity.
Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Cinco Charlie and will break from post position four.
Brad Cox trains Weast Hill, who is undefeated in two starts. Winner of the Rainbow at Oaklawn in his most recent start, Weast Hill will break from post position five and be ridden by Jesus Castanon.
The field for the William Walker, from the rail out (with jockey and weight): Henry Jones (James Graham, 118 pounds), Blofeld (Velazquez, 123), Senor Grits (Julien Leparoux, 118), Cinco Charlie (Santana Jr., 120), Weast Hill (Castanon, 118) and Holiday Camp (Miguel Mena, 118).