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Kentucky Oaks Winner Untapable Returns to Work, Mother Goose Up Next

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/27/2014 #
  • Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs).

  • Jockey Joe Johnson (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Marylou Whitney's Bird Maker returned to Churchill Downs with an easy win (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

In her first work since capturing the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 under the Twin Spires on Monday morning in preparation for the June 28 Mother Goose (GI) at Belmont Park.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, the 3-year-old bay filly posted fractions of :12.80, :25.60, :37.60 and :49.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.20 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:28.80.

“The Mother Goose is our next target,” Asmussen said. “She breezed beautifully Monday morning and she’s a tremendously talented filly.”

Unlike some of her rivals from the May 2 Oaks, Untapable is bypassing the one-mile Acorn (GI) on Belmont Stakes Day (June 7) for the Mother Goose, which is run at the distance of 1 1/16 miles.

“There’s a lot left on her docket for the year,” Asmussen said. “We want to keep her stretched out and we want to keep her in the rhythm that she’s in that has allowed her to have so much success this year.”

When asked if Untapable could meet males somewhere down the road, Asmussen said: “We don’t rule out running against the boys but there are a lot of options out there for her. Right now, tentatively, we have the Mother Goose, the Coaching Club of America Oaks and the Alabama which are all tremendous spots for her coming up on the calendar.”

The Coaching Club of America Oaks (GI) is a 1 1/8-mile contest on July 20 and the 1 ¼-mile Alabama (GI) is Aug. 16, both for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga.

JOHNSON APPROACHING 1,000TH WIN

Jockey Joe Johnson entered Monday’s holiday racing program two victories away from the 1,000 career-win milestone after taking the third race on Sunday’s Churchill card aboard Double Rah Rah.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it too much,” Johnson said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to ride here and to ride live horses that win races.”

Johnson, 46, first worked on the racetrack as a hot walker for trainer Gary Hartlage. He was eventually promoted to groom, then exercise rider and then stable jockey. Hartlage gave him a leg up for his first winner during the 1989 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs and Johnson has been the conditioner’s go-to rider ever since.

Two of Johnson’s biggest victories have come in the past two years aboard On Fire Baby, also for Hartlage. On Fire Baby took the 2013 Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park and most recently the May 2 La Troienne (GI) on Kentucky Oaks Day.

“Some of the more memorable ones have been the Alcibiades at Keeneland, the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn and the La Troienne here at Churchill.”

Johnson won the 1991 Alcibiades (GII) on Spinning Round for trainer Jimmy Baker.

Sunday’s victory was Johnson’s ninth of the Spring Meet in 37 mounts, already three more than the six wins he totaled through three meets at Churchill Downs in 2013.

“I haven’t been doing anything different this meet; I’ve just been getting on some more talented horses maybe than I usually ride. Through the years I don’t always win a ton of races, like maybe 20-30 per year, but it seems like I’m coming around a little better this year.”

Johnson had four mounts entering Monday’s Churchill Downs Memorial Day card.

The last time Johnson posted a double-digit win total at Churchill Downs was during the 1995 Spring Meet when he went 11-for-60.

NO LIVE RACING TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY OR THURSDAY

There will be no racing at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday after Monday’s Memorial Day holiday racing program. Racing will resume Friday at 2:45 p.m. ET. Churchill Downs will be open Thursday for simulcast wagering in ITW area on second floor of the Clubhouse from 11:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. for action from Belmont Park (1:20 p.m.) and Arlington Park (2 p.m.).

DOWN THE STRETCH

After an impressive 11 ¼-length allowance victory on Sunday at Churchill Downs, Marylou Whitney Stables LLC’s Bird Maker may be ready to tackle stakes competition in her next outing.

Trained by Ian Wilkes, Bird Maker was runner-up in the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs last November. Prior to Sunday’s victory, her last start was a fifth-place finish in the Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct.

“There’s a good chance we move her back into stakes company,” Wilkes said. “I think she’s talented and I have no problem moving her back up, we’re just not sure where yet. I think we’ll keep her going one turn.

“She came out of the race really well. I need to sit down and talk with (co-owner) John Hendrickson and see which way we need to go for her next start.”…

Klaravich Stables Inc. and William Lawrence’s Central Banker, victorious in the Churchill Downs (GII) last out, worked a half mile in :48.40 Monday morning in preparation for the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park for trainer Al Stall Jr.

Monday’s opener at Churchill Downs, a seven-furlong, $5,000 claiming sprint for older horses, was reduced to a “match race” between Theodore’s Cash and Stereo in Motion after four horses were vet scratches. It’s unclear as to when the last match race at Churchill Downs was, but there were been none dating back to 1996 until Monday.

Zev, winner of the 1923 Kentucky Derby and the eventual Horse of the Year, defeated rival In Memoriam by a nose in a 1 ¼-mile match race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17, 1923. The winner covered the distance over a fast track in 2:06 3/5. It was the Derby winner’s final start of the year.

One description of the day’s events: Zev met In Memoriam in a match race arranged by the Kentucky Jockey Club and held off his rival’s late charge to win by a nose, but the question of which was the superior colt was questioned by many. Films shot from a questionable angle seemed to show In Memoriam to be the winner. Regardless, Zev was named Horse of the Year, and also was the season’s leading money earner with $272,008 in winnings. He shared divisional honors with In Memoriam.

It was Zev’s second match race of the year. He had beaten Papyrus, who had won England’s Epsom Derby earlier that year, in a $100,000 match called the International at Belmont Park on Oct. 20. Zev won by five and covered 1 ½ miles in 2:35 2/5 over a sloppy track. Zev finished 2-for-2 in races at Churchill Downs. 

The most famous match race at Churchill Downs was the July 4, 1878 battle between unbeaten California mare Molly McCarty and Kentucky-based stallion Ten Broeck.  A crowd of 30,000 was on hand to watch the four-mile match race. Ten Broeck won the match easily, handing Molly McCarty her first loss in 14 races.

The race was immortalized in a bluegrass song named “Molly and Tenbrooks,” a standard also referred to as “Run, Molly, Run.”

Click here for a PDF copy of Churchill Downs' Sunday, May 26 Race Day notes - which include meet leader standings and other statistical information.