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Simms' Circle Unbroken, Asmussen's Special Jo Head Bashford Manor After Dark

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/27/2012 #
  • Circle Unbroken bids to provide trainer Garry Simms with a stakes sweep. (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Special Jo was an impressive debut winner for trainer Steve Asmussen. (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Positively is trained by Pat Byrne, who won the 1997 Bashford Manor with Favorite Trick. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Patrick Byrne trains Bashford Manor hope Positively (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Roman's Avenue won his racing debut for trainer Dale Romans (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Roxelana contender Sassy Image won the Grade I Humana Distaff in 2011 (Reed Palmer, CD)

Veteran trainer Garry Simms, who saddled Blueeyesintherein to win last Saturday’s Debutante (Grade III), will try to become just the fifth trainer to sweep the Spring Meet’s pair of graded stakes races for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs when he sends Travis Morgeson V LLC’s Circle Unbroken into Saturday’s $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII).

The 111th running of the Bashford Manor will be run at six furlongs on the main track at Churchill Downs as part of the “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program. It is scheduled as Race 6 with a post time of 9 p.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the first of 11 races is 6:30 p.m. 

Circle Unbroken recorded one of the six wins from nine starters at the Spring Meet Simms, who would join Steve Asmussen (2007), H. H. Battle (1945), Clyde Van Dusen (1926) and W. Phillips (1905) as the only trainers to complete the Debutante – Bashford Manor double in the same year. A dark bay or brown son of Broken Vow, Circle Unbroken debuted a winner by taking a 5 ½-furlong maiden special at Churchill Downs by 1 ¼ lengths. He will seek to improve his record to a perfect 2-for-2 in the Bashford Manor when he breaks from post two under Jon Court.

Asmussen doesn’t have a chance at a double again, but he does have a great shot to record his fourth Bashford Manor win with Mike McCarty’s Special Jo. A bay son of Johannesburg, Special Jo broke his maiden by six lengths in a May 25 maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs at odds of 3-5. He was guided in that victory by Shane Sellers, who will have the mount in the Bashford Manor when Special Jo breaks from post five. Sellers and Asmussen teamed up to win the Bashford Manor with Lunarpal in 2004.

Breaking from the rail under Shaun Bridgmohan will be Silverton Hill LLC’s Good Tickled, one of four colts in the race who have run more than once. He finished second in his career debut going 4 ½ furlongs on the Polytrack at Keeneland and then rebounded to take a five-furlong maiden special at Churchill Downs by 1 ¼ lengths on May 18 for trainer Darrin Miller.

Chuck and Maribeth Sandford LLC’s Positively, Donegal Racing’s Roman’s Avenue and John Paul Pucek, Kathy Leigh and Paige Marcinek’s Praetorian Prefect will both enter the Bashford Manor off maiden victories beneath the Twin Spires.

A bay son of Distorted Humor, Positively finished third behind Good Tickled and John Gordon in his career debut on May 18 and then returned to take a maiden special at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths under Calvin Borel for trainer Pat Byrne, who saddled Horse of the Year Favorite Trick to win the Bashford Manor in 1997. Borel won the Bashford Manor last year aboard Stoneway Farm LLC’s Exfactor and in 2000 aboard Duality.

Positively will break from post seven.

Roman’s Avenue was heavily-favored in his career debut and did not disappoint, winning by 4 ¼ lengths for trainer Dale Romans on May 27. A dark bay or brown son of 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Street Sense, Roman’s Avenue will break from post six under the Spring Meet’s leading rider, Corey Lanerie

Praetorian Prefect finished fourth of nine in his career debut on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland in a maiden special and then was dropped in for a $40,000 claiming tag at Churchill Downs on June 3. A dark bay or brown son of Successful Appeal, Praetorian Prefect won the maiden-claiming event by four lengths and was not claimed. He will break from post four under Dean Sarvis.

The lone maiden in the field is Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Hightail, who most recently finished third behind Positively and John Gordon in a maiden special at Churchill Downs on June 8. A dark bay or brown son of Mineshaft, Hightail will seek to improve Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas’ record number of wins in the historic race to six when breaking from the outside under Ramon Vazquez.

Rounding out the field is John and Luis Auer’s Go Jack Go, a bay son of Harlan’s Holiday who broke his maiden by a neck in his career debut on May 25 at Indiana Downs. Trained by Ralph Martinez, Go Jack Go will break from post three under Rodney Prescott

The field for the Bashford Manor, from the rail out, is as follows: Good Tickled (trained by Darrin Miller, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan), Circle Unbroken (Garry Simms, Jon Court), Go Jack Go (Ralph Martinez, Rodney Prescott), Praetorian Prefect (John Paul Pucek, Dean Sarvis), Special Jo (Steve Asmussen, Shane Sellers), Roman’s Avenue (Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie), Positively (Pat Byrne, Calvin Borel) and Hightail (Wayne Lukas, Ramon Vazquez).

The Bashford Manor was named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American race scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor in 1887 and won the Kentucky Derby as an owner in 1892 and 1906 and as a breeder in 1892, 1899 and 1906. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003. The Wilder family, direct descendants of Lord Baltimore whose English home also was called Bashford Manor, were the original owners.

Highlighting the Bashford Manor undercard is the $73,600-added Roxelana, an overnight stakes event for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the main track at Churchill Downs. The field of eight is headed by Jerry Romans’ multiple Grade-I winner Sassy Image.

A 5-year-old chestnut daughter of Broken Vow, Sassy Image is a four-time graded stakes winner at Churchill Downs. She completed the Pocahontas (GIII) – Golden Rod (GII) double during her 2-year-old campaign and won the Humana Distaff (GI) and Winning Colors (GIII) last year. The Dale Romans-trained Sassy Image also won the Princess Rooney (GI) at Calder during a 4-year-old season that ended with a sixth-place finish in the Ballerina (GI) at Saratoga.

In her lone start this year, she was sixth in the Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard. She will break from post three Saturday under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Sassy Image’s main rivals in the Roxelana could be Heuristic Stable’s Fortune Play and Craig Singer’s homebred Salty Strike. A 6-year-old bay daughter of Five Star Day, Fortune Play is the defending champ of the Roxelana and the John Booker Jr. trainee will break from the rail under Gabriel Saez. Salty Strike, a 4-year-old dark bay or brown filly by Smart Strike, will enter the Roxelana off a victory in the Prairie Rose at Prairie Meadows and has four wins over the Churchill Downs oval, including last year’s Dogwood (GIII) and Dream Supreme. Trained by Ken McPeek, Salty Strike will break from post four under Corey Lanerie.

The field for the Roxelana, from the rail out, is as follows: Fortune Play (trained by John Booker Jr., ridden by Gabriel Saez), My Irish Girl (Brad Cox, Calvin Borel), Sassy Image (Dale Romans, Shaun Bridgmohan), Salty Strike (Ken McPeek, Corey Lanerie), Dontbeshy I’ll Buy (Eric Reed, Malcolm Franklin), Sam’s Bliss (Bret Calhoun, Miguel Mena), Cosmo Girl (Tom Proctor, Shane Sellers) and Rattlin Gypsy (John Wainwright, Jon Court).

The Roxelana, which is scheduled as Race 5 at 7:57 p.m., is named in honor of the Blackie Huffman-trained filly who won the La Troienne (GIII) at Churchill Downs in 2000. Owned by William Landes III, Roxelana retired in 2003 with a record of 7-1-1 from 11 starts and earnings of $264,726.