WISE DAN, D’CAJUN CAT TOP SATURDAY STAKES POSSIBLES
Horse of the Year Wise Dan and impressive debut winner D’cajun Cat top the list of possible contenders for Saturday’s $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) and $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
The two graded stakes races highlight Saturday’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.” The theme is “Star-Spangled Night” in which guests are encouraged to wear red, white and blue for a pre-Fourth of July holiday celebration. The first of 11 races Saturday is 6 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Wise Dan is a winner of five straight Grade I races and has recorded victories this year in the Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Racing Secretary Ben Huffman made Wise Dan the 128-pound high weight for the Firecracker. Prior to the weights being announced, trainer Charlie LoPresti said he would need to discuss the weight assignments with owner/breeder Mort Fink before fully committing to the Firecracker.
Other horses known to be under consideration for the Firecracker (with trainer and assigned weight) include Corporate Jungle (Tom Proctor, 117), Lea (Al Stall Jr., 117), Daddy Nose Best (Steve Asmussen, 116), Seruni (Phil Oliver, 115), Laurie’s Rocket (D. Wayne Lukas, 114) and Dimension-GB (Conor Murphy, 113).
The Firecracker was won last year by Guys Reward and Wise Dan won the race in 2011. No horse has won the Firecracker twice.
Entries for the Firecracker Handicap will be taken Wednesday.
Southern Equine Stable LLC and Whispering Oaks Farm LLC’s D’cajun Cat scored a 5 ¼-length victory in his career debut on June 1 at Churchill Downs.
A $300,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in training at the OBS March Sale, D’cajun Cat is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also is expected to enter Mike McCarty’s Gun Roar in the Bashford Manor. Gun Roar won his career debut by a neck on May 10 at Churchill Downs.
Others expected to enter the Bashford Manor, which was won last year by Circle Unbroken, include Choctaw Chuck, a 7 ½-length debut winner at Presque Isle, Debt Ceiling, winner of the Rollicking at Pimlico, and Hollywood Talent, a 3 ½-length winner in his debut on April 19 at Keeneland.
Sandbar, a gelding by War Pass, was promoted to first through disqualification in his lone start on June 8 at Churchill Downs and is believed to be a possible starter for the Bashford Manor.
Scatman, winner of the Aristides (GIII) in his last start, heads the list of those under consideration for the $65,000-added Kelly’s Landing on Saturday.
Others known to be under consideration for the seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up include multiple graded stakes winner Flashpoint, Churchill Downs (GII) runner-up Pass the Dice and Right to Vote, runner-up in last year’s Peter Pan (GII).
FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD EXITS DEBUTANTE IN GOOD ORDER
Clarence Scharbauer Jr.’s homebred Fiftyshadesofgold exited her impressive eight-length victory in the $113,400 Debutante in good order, according to trainer Bret Calhoun.
“Everything is good today,” Calhoun said. “She’s doing well.”
Calhoun said no plans have been made for Fiftyshadesofgold’s next start; however, he did say he plans on keeping her apart from stablemate Bahnah, who won impressively at Churchill Downs in her debut and is being pointed to the $150,000-added Schuylerville (GIII) at Saratoga on July 19.
“We don’t have any plans for Fiftyshadesofgold at this point,” Calhoun said. “We’ll try to get a plan together in the next week or so, but I don’t even know what’s out there outside of the race at Saratoga, which is where Bahnah is going. Right now, I don’t think I’d want to run them both there.”
Calhoun added that Fiftyshadesofgold likely would remain at Churchill Downs and train up to her next race at the Louisville track.
ON FIRE BABY BACK IN TRAINING
Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby, winner of the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) in April, was sent to Hagyard Equine Hospital in Lexington after spiking a fever while being prepared for the Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII), but now she is back at Churchill Downs and has resumed training at the Louisville track.
“She’s been going back to the track for three days and we’re just taking it easy on her,” trainer Gary Hartlage said. “She jogged 1 ½ miles and galloped 1 ½ miles this morning.”
Hartlage said no plans have been made for On Fire Baby, who finished second by a head to Authenticity in the La Troienne (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day in her last start.
“I don’t know where we’ll go from here,” Hartlage said. “We’ll take our time. She’ll tell us.”
DOWNS AFTER DARK RESERVED SEATS
Reserved seats for the final “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” racing program of the Spring Meet are limited and online sales will cut off Friday at 12 p.m. EDT. The theme for Saturday is “Star-Spangled Night” and fans are encouraged to dress in red, white and blue for a pre-Fourth of July holiday celebration.
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).
LAST CALL: BLACKIE HUFFMAN EDUCATIONAL FUND POKER TOURNAMENT ON WEDNESDAY
A Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament to benefit the Blackie Huffman Educational Fund will be held in the Triple Crown Ballroom at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, June 26. Registration for the tournament, sponsored by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (KHBPA), Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (KTA) and Churchill Downs Racing Committee, begins at 5 p.m. and the game starts at 6 p.m. The buy-in is $100 and space is limited to the first 200 players. Prize amounts will be based on the number of players. For more information or to register early, contact the KHBPA at (502) 363-1077 or the Churchill Downs’ Horsemen’s Lounge at (502) 636-4830.
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Sunday, June 23
Monday, June 24
Tuesday, June 25
Wednesday, June 26
Thursday, June 27
Friday, June 28
Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30