CHURCHILL HORSEMEN LEANING TOWARD ORB IN THE BELMONT
One of the main topics of discussion on the backside of Churchill Downs on Friday morning was the Belmont Stakes (Grade I) and many horsemen at the Louisville racetrack are leaning toward Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Orb to take down the third jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
“I’m going with Orb,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “It’s on his home track and I think he’s the best horse.”
“I’d like to see Orb come back and redeem himself, so I’m sticking with him,” said Jack Bohannon, assistant to trainer Rusty Arnold.
“I think Orb is going to show back up,” trainer Greg Foley said.
“If Orb can get the right trip, I think he’s the best horse,” outrider Lee Lockwood said.
“I’m going with Orb,” said Baldemar Bahena, assistant to trainer Dale Romans. “He’s a great horse and he can run all day.”
Others picking the Derby winner to win the Belmont include trainers Buff Bradley, Ian Wilkes, Neil Howard, Phil Thomas Jr. and assistant trainer Norman Casse.
There was also plenty of support for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ duo of Oxbow and Will Take Charge.
“Speed usually wins the Belmont, so I’ll take Oxbow,” trainer Tim Glyshaw said.
“I like Will Take Charge to win,” trainer Ron Moquett said.
“I’ll be cheering for (jockey) Jon (Court) and Will Take Charge,” said trainer Jinks Fires, whose daughter Krystal is married to Court.
Others garnering significant interest from horsemen were Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul and Freedom Child, who is coming off a 13 ¼-length victory in the Peter Pan (GII) on a sloppy track at Belmont Park.
“I liked Golden Soul in the Derby and I think he’ll love the mile and a half,” trainer Paul McGee said.
“I’m taking Golden Soul,” said Gary Borgemenke, assistant to trainer Bernie Flint.
“I like Freedom Child to repeat in the slop,” trainer Pat Byrne said. “I also like Dallas’ horse, Golden Soul.”
“I’m taking Freedom Child,” said Dennis “Peaches” Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun. “It’ll be in the slop and he ran great in the slop last time.”
The Belmont is scheduled as Race 11 on the 13-race card with a post time of 6:36 p.m. (all times Eastern).
COLONIAL FLAG MAKES 2013 DEBUT IN SATURDAY’S EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP
Colonial Flag was given time off following her third-place finish behind Centre Court and Leading Astray in the Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs in November, but now is ready to begin her 4-year-old campaign for trainer Michael Matz in Saturday’s $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII).
“She’s a big filly and we wanted to give her a rest,” Matz said. “We thought with her size and breeding that she’d be better as a 4-year-old, so we gave her a break this winter.”
Colonial Flag returned to the worktab in late March and breezed twice at Palm Meadows before being shipped to Matz’s barn at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. In prep for the Early Times Mint Julep, Colonial Flag breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on the Tapeta at Fair Hill on June 1.
“I’ve done as much as I can do with her other than have a race in her,” Matz said. “She’s doing really well and this looks like a good place to start her summer campaign.”
A dark bay or brown daughter of Pleasant Tap, Colonial Flag’s career is highlighted by a victory in the Ontario Colleen (GIII) at Woodbine last August under Joe Rocco Jr., who has the call Saturday.
BELMONT ADVANCE WAGERING & BROOKLYN-BELMONT DOUBLE TODAY
Handicappers wanting to get a head start on the Belmont Stakes can do so Friday at Churchill Downs as the Louisville racetrack offers advance wagering on the third leg of the Triple Crown all day Friday. Also, a unique wager offered on Friday by the New York Racing Association is the Brooklyn/Belmont Double that links two 1 ½-mile marathon events: Friday’s Grade II, $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap for older horses (Belmont Park Race 10 at 5:45 p.m. ET) and Saturday’s Belmont.
Saturday’s Belmont Park wagering menu is enticing. There are five graded stakes races, including a trio of Grade I events (the Belmont; the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap; and $500,000 Longines Just a Game), and there’ll be a $1 million guaranteed Pick 6 pool on Races 6-11 and a $1 million guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 pool on Races 8-11. Both wagers will end with the 145th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes, which goes as race 11 at approximately 6:36 p.m.
Churchill Downs will host an NBC Belmont Stakes viewing party in the Plaza starting at 5 p.m. Also, the race will be prominently shown on television monitors throughout the facility, including the infield and paddock JumboTrons. (Note: “Last Call” for alcohol on the first floor of the facility will be post time for the Belmont Stakes).
The simulcast will follow the last of the last of 11 races at Churchill Downs (the last race is scheduled for 6 p.m.). Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. with the first of 11 races scheduled for 12:45 p.m. The simulcast of Belmont Park’s 13-race card will begin at 11:35 a.m.
BELMONT BREEZE ON SALE SATURDAY
The “Belmont Breeze” specialty drink in a Belmont Stakes collectible glass will be sold by Levy Restaurants at select locations throughout the facility. The Belmont Breeze is the official drink of the Belmont Stakes and will feature 1 ½ ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon, 2 ounces of Lemonade and 1 ounce of Pomegranate liquor. Before it’s served, the drink is shaken with ice, strained into a rocks glass with ice and garnished with a squeeze of a lemon wedge.
CITY’S BEST HAPPY HOUR! EVERY FRIDAY
Churchill Downs will host the City’s Best Happy Hour! in The Plaza every Friday from 4-7 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet. Drink specials include $2 Budweiser/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria. There also will be a variety of food trucks from the Louisville Food Truck Association (Booty’s Diner, Reds Comfort Food and the Louisville Dessert Truck are scheduled to appear) and live music on the Plaza Stage by the Rachel Timberlake Band.
21st YMCA SAFE PLACE SERVICE TURF CLASSIC BETWEEN RACES 7-8 TODAY AT 6 P.M.
The 21st annual YMCA Safe Place Services Turf Classic, a seven-furlong race on the Matt Winn Turf Course featuring approximately 20 Louisville firefighters and corporate representatives each sponsored by a local corporation, will be staged Friday between Races 7-8 at approximately 6 p.m.. YMCA Safe Place Services provides a variety of caring programs and round-the-clock assistance for teens and families in crisis. More than 500 guests are expected in Churchill Downs’ Triple Crown Room and additional proceeds will be raised through live and silent auctions.
DOWN THE STRETCH
Trainer Neil Howard said he is picking Orb to win the Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, but noted he would be very happy to see Revolutionary win the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Howard trained Revolutionary’s dam, Runup the Colors, who won the Alabama (GI) and Delaware Oaks in 1997.
“She was such a nice horse and had a heart bigger than the grandstand,” Howard said. …
Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Bahnah, a 2-year-old bay filly by Elusive Quality, scored an impressive six-length victory in her career debut on Thursday at Churchill Downs. Trainer Bret Calhoun said no plans have been made for her next start; however, he did not rule out the $100,000-added Debutante at Churchill Downs on June 22. …
More than nine years after breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs, Missing Sefa, an 11-year-old daughter of Sefapiano, recorded her 24th career victory when winning Thursday’s first race. She broke her maiden as a 2-year-old beneath the Twin Spires on May 26, 2004.
FAMILY FUN DAY ON SUNDAY; CHURCHILL CHARLIE BIRTHDAY BASH!
Churchill Downs will host Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger on the Plaza Balcony every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet.
This week it’s a special birthday celebration for Churchill Downs’ popular mascot Churchill Charlie with special appearances from his area mascot friends.
“The Churchill Charlie Birthday Bash Dash Presented by Kroger” – a race on the Matt Winn Turf Course for the mascots – will be run between races (time TBD). Also, there will be games, crafts and entertainment for kiddos age 12 and younger.
The first of 10 races on Sunday is 12:45 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m. Churchill Downs’ Junior Jockey Club, located inside the Gate 10 entrance, also entertains children age 12 and under on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed when Downs After Dark occurs on June 15, June 22 and June 29). The “Kids Zone” is dedicated to providing fun for the youngsters at Churchill Downs, but all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
SECRETS OF LOUISVILLE CHEFS TO TAPE EPISODE IN THE PLAZA ON SUNDAY AT 2 P.M.
“SECRETS of Louisville Chefs,” the popular local culinary television program that airs on ION-21 and WAVE-3, will tape a special episode at Churchill Downs on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Plaza in conjunction with Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger.
Hosts Tim Laird and Kevin Harned will kick off grilling season with Churchill Downs’ chef Dave Danielson scheduled to reveal grilling secrets that you can use at home. Meanwhile, Laird will show off the latest grilling gadgets.
The episode will air on the weekend of July 4.
RESERVED SEATS GOING FAST FOR RETURN OF ‘DOWNS AFTER DARK’ SATURDAY, JUNE 15
The return of “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” is right around the corner and reserved seats are going fast.
Downs After Dark will be staged on the final three Saturdays this month: June 15 (The White Party), June 22 (Boots, Brew and BBQ) and June 29 (Star-Spangled Night).
Indoor dining packages for the delectable Chef’s Table on Millionaires Row or Skye Terrace are $59.90 per person. Meanwhile, outdoor reserved box seats on the 3rd Floor of the Clubhouse are $20 per person. Those prices include admission, a reserved seat and racing program.
The Downs After Dark general admission, or cover charge, is $10. Holders of shareholders passes or horsemen licenses and children age 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) will be admitted free. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Reserved seating can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets or the on-track box office located at the Gate 1 entrance off Central Avenue (open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on ‘Downs After Dark’ Saturdays).
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Friday, June 7
Saturday, June 8
Sunday, June 9