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It has been nearly a year since A Stevens Miles’ multiple stakes winner Neck n’ Neck went to the sidelines while training for a bid for Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I), but a Sunday workout provided solid evidence that the son of Flower Alley could be stepping into a starting gate soon for trainer Ian Wilkes.
Vuitton took advantage of an early speed duel and rallied from last to run down Sweet Cassiopeia by one length to win Saturday’s fifth running of the $108,100 Open Mind at Churchill Downs.
It is a newcomer on the racing calendar, but Churchill Downs’ inaugural running of the $175,000-added Homecoming Classic during its new September Meet has drawn a high-powered roster of nominations that includes the names of five winners of Grade I stakes events.
In his 78 years and lifetime in around horses, Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner D. Wayne Lukas is not surprised by much when he reports to the track each day for morning training.
Veteran Gary Hartlage has long been one of the most popular trainers at Churchill Downs, especially with longtime friends and residents of the nearby neighborhood of Shively, where the man affectionately known as “Red Dog” grew up.
Janis Whitham’s Fort Larned, reigning winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) and a dominant winner of the Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), returned to the track at Churchill Downs on Saturday to resume his preparations for bid for a second consecutive victory in the Classic at Santa Anita.
‘NOT A SCRATCH’ ON WISE DAN AFTER GUTSY FIRECRACKER WIN
GROUPIE DOLL GETS BACK TO WORK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Groupie Doll, last year’s champion female sprinter, appeared on the worktab for the first time this year and breezed a bullet three furlongs in :35.80 on the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.
It isn’t easy for a racing secretary to hang 128 pounds on a star horse in a handicap race such as Saturday night’s $150,000 Firecracker Handicap (Grade II), but Churchill Downs’ Director of Racing Ben Huffman relishes the opportunity.
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred Lea, winner of last year’s Commonwealth Turf (Grade III), will take on Horse of the Year Wise Dan and six other rivals in Saturday’s 23rd running of the $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs.