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Pants On Fire Heads Ack Ack. Wine Princess Tops Competitive Locust Grove
While budding 2-year-old stars will be on display in two of the four stakes races set for Saturday’s “College Rivalry Night” of “Downs After Dark” night racing program of Churchill Downs’ new September Meet, veteran stars will be in the spotlight for the evening’s other major events: the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III) and the $100,000-added Locust Grove.
Multiple stakes winner Pants on Fire returns to Churchill Downs for the first time since a run in the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) to head a field of 10 3-year-olds and up in the 21st running of the Ack Ack, while the regally-bred Wine Princess will seek her first stakes victory at Churchill Downs when she heads a veteran field of 10 that includes Magic Hour and Flashy American in the 30th running of the Locust Grove for older fillies and mares.
The Ack Ack Handicap and Locust Grove complete the roster of four stakes races on the first Saturday of Churchill Downs’ Sept. 6-29 race meeting. The races will accompany the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies, and the $150,000-added Iroquois, a Grade III race for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Apost time of 6 p.m. (all times Eastern) is set for the first of the 11 races scheduled on “College Rivalry Night,” during which patrons are urged to wear the colors of their favorite college teams and vote for a share of $10,000 in college scholarship funds that will be given away by Churchill Downs.
George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire will be the starting high weight at 121 pounds in the Ack Ack, which will be run at one mile on the main track. The 5-year-old son of Jump Start comes into Saturday’s race off a victory in the Monmouth Cup (GII), but enjoyed his most significant success at three, when he finished ninth to Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby and won the Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds and the Pegasus (GIII) at Monmouth Park.
Trained by Kelly Breen, Pants On Fire has a 7-3-4 record in 21 career races with earnings of $1,131,060. He will be ridden by Paco Lopez and will break from post three in the Ack Ack, which is scheduled as the ninth of 11 races on the program with a post time of 10:11 p.m.
Pants On Fire’s rivals include a pair of veterans from the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen in Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and WinStar Farm’s Brethren, winner of the recent Evangeline Downs Mile, and Winchell’s Sabercat, another Kentucky Derby veteran who finished third to his entry mate in the race at Evangeline Downs. Sabercat finished 15th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby won by I’ll Have Another.
Other contenders include Clovertowne Farm’s homebred Taptowne, winner of the West Virginia Governor’s Handicap at Mountaineer Park and runner-up in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (GIII) in his most recent starts for trainer Tim Glyshaw, and James Tafel’s homebred Looking Cool, a 3-year-old son of Candy Ride who will face older horses for the first time. Looking Cool won the Iowa Derby (GIII) at Prairie Meadows for Hall of Fame trainer and two-time Kentucky Derby winner Carl Nafzger.
The field for the Ack Ack (with jockey, weight and morning line odds) from the rail out: Brethren (Rosie Napravnik, 117, 4-1); Good Morning Diva (Corey Lanerie, 115, 5-1); Pants On Fire (Lopez, 121, 2-1); Right to Vote (Shaun Bridgmohan, 116, 15-1); Taptowne (Calvin Borel, 118, 5-2); Looking Cool (Brian Hernandez Jr., 116, 10-1); Moe Man (Leandro Goncalves, 114, 15-1); and Sabercat (Ricardo Santana Jr., 116, 12-1).
Becky Winemiller’s Wine Princess will be one the favorites in the 30th running of the Locust Grove because of her flashy pedigree and an impressive record on the track. The result of a rare mating of “Horse of the Year” honorees, the daughter of Ghostzapper (2004 Horse of the Year) out of Azeri (2002) has a record of 4-3-0 in nine races, with a victory in the 2012 Monmouth Oaks (GIII) being her signature victory during a young career in which she has earned $259,140.
Wine Princess, who has raced only three times in 2013, launched her 4-year-old season with a seven-length victory at Churchill Downs on April 27. She followed that with a fifth-place finish behind Funny Proposition and two-time champion Royal Delta in the Fleur De Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII), her only loss in four races at Churchill Downs, and a runner-up effort behind Joyful Victory in Monmouth Park’s Molly Pitcher (GII) on July 28. The Steve Margolis-trained filly will be ridden from post five by Shaun Bridgmohan and will race with blinkers for the first time in her career.
Among a competitive group of nine rivals entered to face Wine Princess in the Locust Grove are Janis Whitham’s homebred Magic Hour, the runner-up to Devious Intent in the Gardenia (GIII) at Ellis Park in which 2012 Filly & Mare Sprint champion Groupie Doll finished third, and Preston Stable LLC’s Flashy American, winner of the Alada at Saratoga and the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows.
Other accomplished contenders include Twice the Lady, runner-up in Top Flight Handicap (GIII) and third in the Ruffian (GII); Ice Cream Silence, upset winner of Keeneland’s Doubledogdare (GIII), and Amie’s Dini, who finished eighth to Believe You Can in the 2012 Kentucky Oaks after winning the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park.
The Locust Grove field (with jockey and morning line odds) from the rail out includes: Bahia Beach (Borel, 30-1), Amie’s Dini (Joseph Rocco Jr., 5-1), Magic Hour (Goncalves, 6-1), Flashy American (Lanerie, 5-2), Wine Princess (Bridgmohan, 3-1), Ciguaraya (Hernandez, 15-1), Awesome Flower (Alan Garcia, 6-1), Molly Morgan (Jesus Castanon, 15-1), Ice Cream Silence (Napravnik, 10-1) and Twice the Lady (Santana, 12-1).
The Locust Grove is set as the eighth of 11 races on Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program, with post time scheduled for 9:39 p.m.