Steve Asmussen

2014 Kentucky Oaks Winner Untapable Preparing For Run In Odgen Phipps

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.

TRENDINGJulien 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).

Champion Untapable, Breeders' Cup Classic Winner Bayern, Belmont Stakes Winners Palice Malice & Tonalist Nominate to Spring Meet Stakes

Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner and champion 3-year-old filly Untapable, Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner and Horse of the Year finalist Bayern and Belmont Stakes (GI) winners Palace Malice and Tonalist top a large and highly accomplished roster of racing stars nominated to 10 stakes races scheduled during the April 25-May 2 Kentucky Derby Week celebration at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”).

Nominations for the 141st running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), the $1 million-guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks and $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) were announced earlier.  The roster of other Derby Week stakes events for the week also includes the renamed $200,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU (GIII), a Derby Day race named for the Hall of Fame jockey Day and previously known as the Derby Trial, and the $100,000 William Walker, a new six-furlong race for 3-year-olds named for African-American jockey and 1877 Kentucky Derby winner William “Billy” Walker set for the April 25 “Opening Night” that launches Kentucky Derby Week and the 2015 Spring Meet.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Untapable, who won the 2014 Longines Kentucky Oaks during a championship campaign that included four Grade I victories and concluded with a triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita, heads 22 fillies and mares ages 4 and up nominated to compete in the 30th running of the $300,000 La Troienne, one of five Grade I events on the Derby Week schedule. Untapable scored the first victory of her 4-year-old season last week with a 2 ½-length triumph in the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park. The Steve Asmussen-trained champion had been upset by Pin Oak Stables LLC’s fellow La Troienne nominee Gold Medal Dancer in her 2015 debut in Oaklawn’s Azeri (GII).

The 1 1/8-mile La Troienne, one of six stakes races that will be run on the Kentucky Oaks Day program on May 1, attracted other accomplished nominees that include Barry Schwartz’s Madison (GI) winner Princess Violet;  Town and Country Farms’ Alabama (GI) and Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) winner Stopchargingmaria; Harold Queen’s Royal Delta (GII) winner Sheer Drama; Bobby Flay’s Sunshine Millions Distaff winner Dame Dorothy; G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Falls City (GII) winner Frivolous; Bill Cubbedge’s Fleur De Lis (GII) and Chilukki (GII) winner Molly Morgan; John Clay’s Kentucky Oaks runner-up and Gazelle (GII) winner My Miss Sophia; and James B. Tafel LLC’s Indiana Oaks (GIII) winner Tiz Windy.

Untapable, a homebred daughter of Tapit, has a career record of 9-1-1 in 13 races with earnings of $3,416,725.

Kaleem Shah Inc.’s Bayern heads the rosters of nominees to both the 81st running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs, a Grade II Kentucky Derby Day race at seven furlongs for 4-year-olds and up, and the 12th running of the $400,000 Alysheba (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race on Kentucky Oaks Day for 4-year-olds and up named in honor of the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner and 1988 Horse of the Year. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Offlee Wild completed 2014 with a victory over Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and previously unbeaten Shared Belief in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. His 2014 victories also included the Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park, the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) at Parx and the Woody Stephens (GII) at Belmont Park. He finished first in Churchill Downs’ Derby Trial, but was disqualified by track stewards and placed second for interference.

Bayern, a finalist with eventual winner California Chrome and Shared Belief for the Eclipse Award for 2014’s Horse of the Year, has a record of 6-1-1 in 10 races with career earnings of 4,389,680.

Also nominated to both the Churchill Downs and Alysheba is Dogwood Stable’s 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, a son of two-time horse of the Year Curlin who won the Metropolitan Handicap (GI), Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII), New OrleansHandicap (GII) and Westchester Handicap (GIII) for trainer Todd Pletcher in 2014. Also on the roster of Alysheba nominees is Robert S. Evans’ Tonalist, whose victory in the 2014 Belmont Stakes ended California Chrome’s bid for a Triple Crown. The Christophe Clement-trained son of Tapit also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) and Peter Pan (GII) during his 3-year-old season.

A total of 27 nominations to the Churchill Downs also includes Cigar Mile (GI) winner Private Zone; Kings Bishop (GI) winner The Big Beast; Amsterdam (GII) winner Coup de Grace; Gulfstream Park Sprint (GIII) winner C. Zee; Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) third-place finisher Gentleman’s Bet; and 2013 Ack Ack (GIII) winner Pants on Fire.

Bayern, Palace Malice and Tonalist head the star-studded list of 48 nominees to the Alysheba that also includes Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Hoppertunity; Wood Memorial (GI) and Jim Dandy (GII) winner Wicked Strong; the Shug McGaughey-trained Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) and 2013 Remsen (GII) winner Honor Code; Hollywood Gold Cup (GI) winner Majestic Harbor;  Whitney (GI) winner Moreno; Belmont Stakes runner-up and Skip Away (GIII) winner Commissioner; 2012 Ack Ack (GIII) winner Neck ‘n Neck; Preakness (GI) runner-up Ride On Curlin; Ben Ali (GIII) winner Protonico; and Matt Winn (GIII) victor Tapiture.

Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (GI) winner Judy the Beauty heads an elite roster of fillies and mares ages 4 and up made eligible to compete in the 29th running of the $300,000 Humana Distaff (GI) at seven-furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day. The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper is owned and trained by Wesley Ward and her 2014 wins also included Keeneland’s Madison (GI), Santa Anita’s Las Flores (GIII) and the Rancho Bernardo (GIII) at Del Mar. Judy the Beauty ran fourth to Midnight Lucky in last year’s Humana Distaff and has a career record of 9-7-1 in 18 races with earnings of $1,662,122.

The roster of 26 fillies and mares eligible to run in the Humana Distaff also includes La Troinne nominees Dame Dorothy, Gold Medal Dancer, My Miss Sophia, Princess Violet and Stopchargingmaria. Others include Treadway Racing Stable’s Test (GI) winner Sweet Reason; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dogwood (GIII) winner Thank You Marylou; On Cloud Nine Stable’s 2014 Fantasy (GIII) winner Sugar Shock; Ashbrook Farm’s Winning Colors (GIII) winner Southern Honey; and Southern Equine Stable LLC’s and Whispering Oak Farm LLC’s Victory Ride (GIII) winner Street Story.

Other Breeders’ Cup heroes nominated to Derby Week Stakes races include the winners of the event’s turf races for 2-year-olds. Sheep Pond PartnersLady Eli, unbeaten winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI), heads 53 3-year-old fillies  eligible to compete in the 30th running of the $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day, and Ken Donworth, Ben McElroy and Wesley Ward’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) winner Hootenanny, one of 51 3-year-olds nominated to the 24th running of the $250,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GII) on Derby Day.

The Chad Brown-trained Lady Eli, who won her 3-year-old debut on Sunday in Keeneland’s Appalachian (GIII), is joined on the roster of Edgewood nominees by Ten Broeck Farm’s Sunset Glow, the Wesley Ward-trained runner-up in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Ward also has nominated Hat Creek Racing and Gatewood Bell’s Spanish Pipedream, winner of the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes on synthetic Polytrack at Turfway Park. Other nominees include Appalachian runner-up Miss Temple City; Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) winner Don’t Leave Me; Sweetest Chant (GIII) winner Consumer Credit; Florida Oaks (GIII) winner Quality Rocks; Sanibel Island winner Celestine; and LaCombe Memorial winner Mizz Money.

The Ward-trained Hootenanny is joined on the list of American Turf nominees by Palm Beach (GIII) winner Eh Cumpari; Cecil B. Demille (GIII) winner and Cincinnati Spiral (GIII) runner-up Conquest Typhoon; John Battaglia Memorial winner Royal Son; and Pasadena winner Pappacoolpappacool.

Sixty-one 3-year-olds nominated to the Pat Day Mile include the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of unbeaten Hopeful (GI) winner Competitive Edge, who returned from a layoff with an 8 ¼-length romp in Gulfstream Park’s Tamarac, and Blofeld, unbeaten winner of the Belmont Futurity (GII) and Aqueduct’s Nashua (GII). Others include Bay Shore (GII) winner March; San Vicente (GII) winner and Bay Shore runner-up Lord Nelson; Southwest (GIII) runner-up The Truth Or Else; Iroquois (GIII) runner-up Bold Conquest; Coolmore Lexington (GIII) runner-up Donworth; Gotham (GIII) runner-up Tiz Shea D; and Echo Eddie winner Gimme Da Lute.

Amerman Racing Stables LLC’s defending winner Coffee Clique tops 39 fillies and mares 4-years-old and up made eligible to compete in the 30th running of the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day.  Trainer Bryan Lynch’s 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro also won Saratoga’s Just A Game (GI) in 2014 and was third to fellow nominees Lady Lara (IRE) and Sandiva (IRE) in her 2015 debut in the recent Honey Fox (GII) at Gulfstream Park. Other nominees include Del Mar Oaks (GI) winner Personal Diary; Jenny Wiley (GI) winner Hard Not to Like; Cardinal (GIII) winner Strike Charmer; Modesty (GIII) winner I’m Already Sexy; Arlington Classic (GI) winner Istanford; Dance Smartly (GII) winner Overheard; Edgewood winner A Little Bit Sassy; Goldikova (GII) winner Filimbi; Matriarch (GI) third-place finisher Discreet Marq; and Bayou winner Eden Prairie.

The 21st running of the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day drew 31 nominations that include John Menary and Gail Cox’s Something Extra, Rigney Racing LLC’s Channel Marker and Wes Welker’s Undrafted – the 1-2-3 finishers in Keeneland’s recent Shakertown (GIII). Also nominated is Vinery Stables’ veteran Regally Ready, who won the five-furlong turf race in 2011 and took the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) later that year, and Team Valor International’s Speechify, winner of the Mr. Prospector (GIII) at Gulfstream Park.

The $100,000 William Walker, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby Week and Spring Meet Stakes schedule on Saturday, April 25, attracted 27 3-year-old nominees for its inaugural running. The Pletcher-trained Blofeld, a two-time Grade II winner also nominated to the Pat Day Mile, is the most accomplished of nominated horses.

Others nominated to the six-furlong race include the Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Holy Boss, winner of Oaklawn Park’s Bachelor, and Cinco Charlie, winner of Churchill Downs’ Bashford Manor (GIII) and stakes races at Laurel Park, Delaware Park, Fair Grounds and Sunland Park.

A complete list of nominations can be found online at: http://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes-nominations.

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.