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Calhoun Trio Heads Winning Colors; In Foal Ravi's Song Seeks First Graded Stakes Victory in Early Times Mint Julep

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/01/2012 #
  • Trainer Bret Calhoun will saddle three for the Winning Colors. Credit: Churchill Downs / Reed Palmer

  • Ravi's Song (#1) finished second in the Early Times Mint Julep last spring. Credit: Churchill Downs / Reed Palmer

  • Riley Tucker winning the Aristides in 2010. Credit: Churchill Downs

The Bret Calhoun-trained trio of Beat the Blues, Speedacious and Gleaming – all multiple stakes winners with 28 victories and earnings of more than $1.1 million among them – head the field of eight fillies and mares entered for Saturday’s $100,000-added Winning Colors (Grade III) at six furlongs on the main track.

The ninth edition of the Winning Colors will be run under the lights at Churchill Downs as part of the Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program. It will be co-featured Saturday evening with the 24th running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) and the 36th running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII). The Winning Colors is scheduled as Race 6 at 8:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Calhoun has won the race twice, taking back-to-back editions in 2009 and 2010 with Dubai Majesty, who won the latter running during a season in which she won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at Churchill Downs and earned an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter.

“All three have been pointing to this race for a while,” Calhoun said. “They are all nice mares and have won multiple stakes races. The next step is to get them a graded stakes win. I think any one of the three could win with the right trip.”

Martin Racing Stable LLC and Morgan Thoroughbred LLC’s Beat the Blues has nine wins, including the Saylorville at Prairie Meadows and the Carousel at Oaklawn Park, from 18 starts and was second by a neck to Sassy Image in last year’s Winning Colors.

A 5-year-old daughter of Great Pyramid-IRE, Beat the Blues will break from post three under Miguel Mena.

Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Speedacious is coming into the Winning Colors with a five-race winning streak and she most recently won an allowance race on Churchill’s Opening Night program on April 28. Five of the 11 wins for the 5-year-old Louisiana bred have come in stakes races, including the Satin and Lace at Presque Isle Downs and the Happy Ticket at Fair Grounds in open company.

A bay daughter of Yankee Gentleman, Speedacious will break from post eight under Brian Hernandez Jr.  

Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gleaming finished third to her stablemate in the Carousel, but has recorded wins this year in the American Beauty and Spring Fever at Oaklawn. Overall, the 5-year-old chestnut daughter of Dehere has won eight of her 16 career starts and has only two off-the-board finishes.

She will break from post two under Calvin Borel.

“We’re trying to get them a graded win to increase their broodmare value because I think this will probably be the final year for all three of them,” said Calhoun, who with nine wins is tied for leading trainer at the Spring Meet with Dale Romans. “I’ll miss them and I don’t know how I’ll replace them.”  

RAVI’S SONG IN FOAL, SEEKS FIRST GRADED STAKES WIN SATURDAYMrs. Yoshio Fujita’s homebred Ravi’s Song will be racing for two Saturday when she bids for her first graded stakes victory in the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

“She was bred after her last race at Keeneland (fourth in one-mile turf allowance on April 11) and has been pronounced in foal to Distorted Humor,” trainer Carl Bowman said. “Since she’s been back at the track, I’ve worked her three times and she’s breezed really well and she’s coming into the race well.”

Ravi’s Song’s most recent work at Churchill Downs came last Wednesday when she breezed a bullet three furlongs in :36.

It is not uncommon for a mare to continue racing during the early months of her pregnancy. In fact, My Baby Baby won last year’s Early Times Mint Julep while in foal to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and Snow Top Mountain, the 4-1 co-second choice on the morning line for the Early Times Mint Julep, will race while in foal to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner and champion older male Blame.

“Hopefully Ravi’s Song will make it two years in a row (that the winner will be in foal),” Bowman said.   

Ravi’s Song has come close to graded-stakes glory on multiple occasions. She was runner-up in this race in 2011 and later finished second in Monmouth’s Matchmaker (GIII) and Churchill Downs’ Cardinal Handicap (GIII).

“A couple of times she was in trouble and might have been the best horse,” Bowman said. “But sometimes you get unlucky and it doesn’t work out.”

While Bowman is confident coming into Saturday’s race, he is concerned about the possibility of the turf course not being firm. Heavy overnight showers caused the two turf races scheduled for Friday at Churchill Downs to be moved to the main track.

“I’m concerned about getting a soft turf course,” Bowman said. “But there’s nothing you can do about those sort of things.”

Ravi’s Song has started five times on the turf, but only once over a course not listed as “firm.” She finished ninth of 10 in the Blushing K. D. Handicap over a yielding turf course at Fair Grounds.

A 6-year-old gray/roan daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of the A.P. Indy mare Lu Ravi, Ravi’s Song will break from post six under Miguel Mena.

The Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, which is scheduled as Race 9 at 9:39 p.m., will more than likely be run without the top weight and morning-line favorite Tapitsfly. Trainer Dale Romans said Thursday he would probably opt to run Tapitsfly in the Just A Game (GI) at Belmont Park on the Belmont Stakes (GI) undercard on June 9.

CASH REFUND, RILEY TUCKER BOTH SET FOR THIRD STARTS IN ARISTIDES Bert, Elaine and Richard Klein’s homebred Cash Refund and Zayat Stables LLC’s Riley Tucker will both make their third appearances in the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

A 6-year-old gelded son of Petionville, Cash Refund finished third as the 6-5 favorite in the 2010 Aristides and was last of eight in the race last year. After being beaten a nose by Gantry in the F. W. Gaudin Memorial at Fair Grounds, Cash Refund finished fourth to the same rival in the Duncan F. Kenner, his most recent start.

Since his last race, Cash Refund has recorded two bullet works over the Churchill Downs oval. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 on May 17 and a half-mile in :47.60 on May 25.

“He’s been doing well,” trainer Steve Margolis said. “We tried to run him the week after the (Kentucky) Derby in an allowance race, but the race didn’t go. We didn’t want to ship him out and he likes this track. He didn’t run his best race (in the Aristides) last year, but I think he’s coming into the race this year better than last year.”

Cash Refund will break on the outside in post eight in the Aristides, which is scheduled as Race 7 at 9:05 p.m.

“We got a good post,” Margolis said. “He can break well from the outside and then (jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) can do what he thinks is best.”

While Riley Tucker seek his second Aristides win as he makes his third start in Saturday’s race.  A 7-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday, Riley Tucker won the 2010 Aristides and finished fifth last year.  Overall, Riley Tucker has won eight of his 41 starts and has earned $667,116.

“He’s coming into the race well and he’s a tough old bird,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Riley Tucker will break from post three under Miguel Mena.

Asmussen will also saddle Padua Stables LLC’s homebred Rothko for the Aristides. A 4-year-old bay son of Arch, Rothko finished behind The Factor in his previous two starts. He was second in the Malibu (GI) in December and fifth in the San Carlos (GII) in February, which was his most recent start.

“He ran well at Churchill Downs last fall (6 ½-length win in allowance on Nov. 4) and we’re hoping to get him back on track,” Asmussen said. “He had been doing quite a lot, so we decided to give him a break (after the San Carlos).”

Rothko will break from the rail Saturday under Corey Nakatani.

BARN TALK John Oxley’s Stealcase will be pointed to the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII) on the Stephen Foster Day undercard on June 16 off his four-length victory in Thursday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs.

“The Matt Winn is still the number one plan,” trainer Mark Casse via phone from his barn at Woodbine. “I thought he should have won yesterday, but I also wanted him to win with some authority, so I was quite happy. I told Mr. Oxley we would be tough, but it wasn’t going to be a walkover because there were some nice horses in there. We’ve thought a lot of this horse for a long time, so yesterday’s win was gratifying.” …

Jockey Calvin Borel recorded his 1,100th Churchill Downs victory Thursday aboard Cecil Borel’s Tank’s Letter in the third race. He is second in all-time wins beneath the Twin Spires to Pat Day, who rode 2,482 winners at the Louisville track.

“It’s pretty cool to get number 1,100 for my brother (Cecil),” Borel said. “It makes it really special. We’ve accomplished a lot together in our lives.” …

PTK LLC’s Regal Nurse became the first seven-time winner of 2012 in North America in the sixth race at Churchill Downs on Thursday. The Dane Kobiskie-trained Regal Nurse has won 10 straight races dating back to last November. Overall, her record stands at 15-1-2 from 23 starts. She is entered in Sunday’s third race at Churchill Downs and Kobiskie said he is planning on running her on two days rest.  …

The biggest summer parties in Louisville return to Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 2 at 6 p.m. as the home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes back its wildly-popular nighttime racing series, “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.

The concept for the 11-race program, that includes a stakes tripleheader, will be Remix, featuring bold colors with a nod to the 1980s. Saturday night’s season premiere will showcase the return of the popular VJ 2nd Nature, who will entertain paddock party-goers from 8:30 p.m. to midnight, and Cincinnati-based cover band Off The Hook, who will play from 4-8:30 p.m. 

Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m.

Nominations for the four graded stakes races to be run on Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs will close Saturday, June 2. The races, which will be run under the lights as part of the “Downs After Dark” racing program on Saturday, June 16, include the 31st running of the $400,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the 37th running of the $150,000-added Fleur de Lis (GII) for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the 43rd running of the $100,000-added Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course and the 15th running of the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013, and its 2012 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

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