LOPRESTI HOPES TURALLURE BRINGS ‘A’ GAME IN SUNDAY’S FIRECRACKER – Four D Stables’ homebred Turallure, whose win in last year’s Woodbine Mile (Grade I) was followed by a narrow defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Churchill Downs, heads a field of six entered for Sunday’s 22nd running of the $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs and trainer Charlie Lopresti hopes the 5-year-old son of Wando will turn in another top effort.
“There are some good horses in the race, but if he brings his ‘A’ game then he’ll be tough to beat,” Lopresti said via phone from Prairie Meadows, where he was preparing Morton Fink’s homebred Successful Dan for Saturday’s Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (GIII).
Turallure capped a banner year in 2011 with his runner-up finish to Court Vision in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. After more than a five-month layoff, he returned to run second in the Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) at Keeneland to Data Link, who would win the Monmouth (GII) in his next start. In his second outing of the year, Turallure disappointed with a seventh-place run as the 2-1 favorite in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard.
"“I think we brought him back a little too quickly after the race at Keeneland,” Lopresti said. “He ran his eyeballs out that day in the Maker’s.”
Lopresti, who won last year’s running of the Firecracker with Wise Dan, another Fink homebred, said Turallure exited the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in good order and he believes he is back in top form.
“He’s been doing really well and I think I’ve got him at the same level he was at going into the race at Keeneland,” Lopresti said.
Like the Maker’s 46 Mile, the Firecracker will be contested at one mile on turf. Turallure has a record of 2-2-0 from five starts and earnings of $1,065,980 in races at a mile on grass, but Lopresti doesn’t consider him to be a mile specialist.
“I don’t think the distance matters as long as he has pace to run at,” Lopresti said. “It looks like they’ll be a decent pace in the race Sunday.”
The Firecracker is scheduled as Race 7 and, with post time for the first race Sunday being pushed back to 6:30 p.m. (all times Eastern), it will go off at 9:30 p.m.
Lopresti said he is scheduled to fly back to Louisville Sunday morning and would be at Churchill Downs to saddle Turallure for the Firecracker.
LANERIE’S DREAMS BECAME A REALITY IN STELLAR SPRING MEET – After having to settle for second in the jockey standings in three of the last four racing meets at Churchill Downs, veteran Corey Lanerie has clinched his first local riding title to cap off a phenomenal Spring Meet beneath the Twin Spires.
“It feels great to have had such a good meet,” Lanerie said. “To win all the races I’ve won…It’s a dream come true.”
With two cards left at the 2012 Spring Meet, Lanerie has 67 wins from 261 starts (26% win clip) and earnings of $1,951,795. He has 24 more wins than Shaun Bridgmohan, who battled for leading rider earlier in the meet but will finish second in the standings. Lanerie’s wins-per-day rate of 1.86 is the highest for a Spring Meet since Steve Brooks had an average of 2.42 wins per day in 1948.
“It’s been one of the best meets of my career,” Lanerie said. “The money has been great and it’s more noticeable at Churchill Downs. This meet is on the top of my list.”
Lanerie, who eclipsed the 3,000-win plateau early last year, has won riding titles in Texas at Lone Star Park, Sam Houston, Retama Park and Kentucky’s Ellis Park, but he said the Churchill Downs riding title is the most prestigious and it provides the opportunity to take his career to another level.
“I’ve had some people ask me to ride in stakes races that probably wouldn’t have before (this meet),” Lanerie said. “Maybe they didn’t notice me. I think I’m finally going to be considered a good jock.”
Lanerie, who with 386 local victories is the 19th all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, said now that he has won a title at the historic Louisville track, the goal now is to get more.
“My goal was to get on top and now my goal will be to stay on top,” Lanerie said. “I hope I can keep it rolling.”
Lanerie has 20 mounts over the final two days at Churchill Downs and then will ride at Ellis Park, which opens July 4.
ROMANS HOLDS THREE-WIN LEAD IN TRAINER STANDINGS – The leading owner and leading jockey of the 2012 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs have already been decided, with Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. and Corey Lanerie taking home the titles. However, a three-way race among Dale Romans (19 wins), Tom Amoss (16 wins) and Steve Asmussen (15 wins) continues for the training title.
Romans, the second all-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs, has won eight local training titles, but is seeking his first since the Spring 2006 meet. Amoss has two training titles at Churchill Downs, most recently in the Spring of 2008. Asmussen is an 11-time leading trainer beneath the Twin Spires and has topped the standings the last six meets.
Below is a look at the remaining entries at the meet for Romans, Amoss and Asmussen.
Romans on Saturday, June 30: Crafty Macho (Race 1, 3-1 morning-line odds), Dynamic Knight (Race 1, 8-5 favorite), Brown Eyes Blue (Race 2, 4-1), Sassy Image (Race 5, 6-5 favorite), Scariff Island (Race 7, 10-1), D. C. Gene (Race 7, 6-1) and Marlin Mission (Race 11, 5-1).
Amoss on Saturday, June 30: Sever (Race 7, 5-1) and Snugs and Kisses (Race 9, 2-1 favorite).
Asmussen on Saturday, June 30: Double Tapped (Race 2, 5-1), Coffee Boy (Race 3, 2-1 favorite), Bravo Habibi (Race 4, 6-1) and Special Jo (Race 6, 2-1 favorite).
Romans on Sunday, July 1: Georgie’s Angel (Race 2, 4-1), Tanglewood Tale (Race 3, 4-1), Saint X. (Race 4, 5-1), Yo Blue (Race 4, 5-1), Guys Reward (Race 7, 2-1) and Savage Vow (Race 9, 7-2).
Amoss on Sunday, July 1: Snow Kissed (Race 2, 7-2).
Asmussen on Sunday, July 1: Rosesinthereain (Race 1, 8-1), Alydarla (Race 2, 4-1), Western Sadler (Race 4, 8-1), Le Mans (Race 5, 5-1), Omniscient (Race 6, 5-2 favorite) and Por Que (Race 8, 6-1).
BARN TALK – Agent Fred Aime said jockey Shane Sellers, who was involved in a spill in Friday night’s ninth race at Churchill Downs, was doing relatively well Saturday morning, but was still complaining of pain in his right shoulder. Sellers, the eighth all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, will get an MRI on his shoulder Saturday afternoon. He will take off all mounts on Saturday and Sunday, but the extent of his injury and the length of his recovery period have not been determined.
Sellers’ mount in the ninth race was Voodoo Daddy, who unseated Sellers after running into the temporary rail on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Trainer Steve Asmussen told the Courier-Journal’s Jennie Rees that Voodoo Daddy suffered cuts in the incident and was taken to Rood & Riddle equine hospital in Lexington. He was reported to be in stable condition Saturday morning and his vets are optimistic he will recover. …
Donegal Racing’s O’Prado Again, winner of last fall’s Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct, returned to the worktab on Saturday for the first time since being injured during a work at Gulfstream Park in January. A 3-year-old gray or roan son of El Prado-IRE, O’Prado Again breezed four furlongs on the fast main track at Churchill Downs in :49.80 for trainer Dale Romans.
“He worked very well and finished strong,” Romans said. “He had a condylar fracture and had surgery. He’s recovered really well and he seems to be coming back at the same level of talent he had before.”
Romans said there are no plans for O’Prado Again’s next start.
Also working from the Romans barn Saturday morning was Dullahan, who also is owned by Donegal Racing. Dullahan, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) prior to being seventh as the 5-2 favorite in the Belmont (GI), breezed four furlongs on the main track in :50.80. The work ranked 43rd out of 62 at the distance.
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan’s victory aboard Wine Princess in the 10th race at Churchill Downs on Friday night was his 407th local win, moving him past Rafael Bejarano for 16th all-time beneath the Twin Spires. Bridgmohan won the following race aboard General Partner to bring his total to 408. Wine Princess is a daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri who won for the second time in four career starts, with both victories coming on the Churchill Downs dirt course. …
The final “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program of the Spring Meet is billed as the second annual “White Party,” in which on-track guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe. Paddock entertainment will be provided by Trinity, a Miami-based trio that uniquely mixes the sounds of a DJ and drums, and popular Nashville band, Burning Las Vegas. …
Sunday’s Junior Jockey Club activities will go on as scheduled, but the one-day “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” has been postponed because of timing conflicts. Pre-registered contestants will be contacted in the next few days by track officials.
WORKTAB – Peter Callahan’s Scotus, winner of last spring’s Matt Winn (GIII) and most recently third in the Opening Verse on the Matt Winn Turf Course, breezed four furlongs Saturday morning on the main track in :49.20 for trainer Ken McPeek. It was the 18th fastest of 62 works at the distance.