Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Silver Max, whose last start was a fourth-place effort in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile, is likely make his 2014 debut in next Saturday’s $200,000-added Firecracker (GII) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Dale Romans, the 4-year-old son of Badge of Silver is best known for handing two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan his lone loss of 2013, defeating the champion by 1 ¼ lengths in the Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland, which was actually run on the Polytrack at the distance of 1 1/16 miles due to extreme weather.
Wise Dan, who won the 2011 and 2013 editions of the Firecracker, was not nominated to this year’s race due to an emergency colic surgery he underwent in May, leaving Silver Max as the one to beat.
“He’s doing super,” Romans said. “He just needed some rest, so he’s fresh now and ready to roll.”
Silver Max breezed five furlongs Thursday in 1:04.80.
When asked if jockey Robby Albarado would maintain the mount on Silver Max, Romans said, “It’s between Albarado and Corey Lanerie. I was going with Albarado for sure until watching the feature Thursday at Churchill when I saw Lanerie come up the fence on him and nail him at the wire.
“One of my big pet peeves in racing is when jockeys let other jockeys get through on the inside, so we’re considering switching to Lanerie.”
Of the 45 horses nominated to the June 28 Firecracker, Romans also had Donegal Racing’s Finnegan’s Wake; Michael J. Bruder’s Guys Reward, who won the 2012 Firecracker and Zayat Stables’ Prayer For Relief, but said the Silver Max would likely be his only entry.
Also listed as probable by the Churchill Downs racing office are Silverton Hill LLC’s Big Blue Spirit (GB) for trainer Darrin Miller; Richard Sherman’s Nikki’s Sandcastle conditioned by David Kassen; Vinery Stables LLC’s Regally Ready for trainer Steve Asmussen; and Gainesway Stable’s Villandry trained by Charlie LoPresti.
VIVA MAJORCA READY FOR STAKES, LONGER DISTANCE
Marylou Whitney Stables LLC’s homebred Viva Majorca, fresh off a 3 ½-length win on Friday’s “Downs After Dark” program, came out of the victory in good form and his trainer Ian Wilkes is looking to move the colt up to stakes company for his next start.
“He came out of the race fine, no problems,” Wilkes said. “I will most likely be looking for a stakes somewhere for his next start.”
Viva Majorca was sixth of nine after the opening quarter-mile, moved up to fifth after a half-mile and was second coming around the turn, where he drove past Duval and opened up in the stretch, finishing the 6 ½-furlong allowance optional claiming race in 1:17.14.
“We got that race out of the way and he did what I expected him to do,” Wilkes said. “I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and look for a next race and I still need to talk to his owners about it.”
Ridden Friday by Julien Leparoux, Viva Majorca captured his second victory in four attempts, boosting his earnings to $68,390. The 3-year-old son of Tiago broke his maiden going seven furlongs, which is the farthest distance he has tried thus far.
“I think he wants to go longer,” Wilkes said. “I was actually looking for a race at the distance of a mile. There was one at 1 1/16 miles but I didn’t want him to go that far, so it was either run him at 6 ½ furlongs or leave him in the barn, but I think he definitely wants to go longer.”
GOVERNMENTSHUTDOWN HEADS LIST OF BASHFORD MANOR PROBABLES
Tim E. O’Donohue Racing LLC’s Governmentshutdown, winner of the Rollicking Stakes at Pimlico in his last start, heads the list of probables for next Saturday’s $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII).
The Churchill Downs racing office also reported that B and C Racing’s Cinco Charlie and John C. Oxley’s Skyway were likely for the six-furlong race.
Governmentshutdown, trained by John Robb, will seek to give his owner and trainer back-to-back Bashford Manor wins as they captured the 2013 edition with Debt Ceiling, who also won the Rollicking in 2013.
Cinco Charlie, trained by Steve Asmussen, took his maiden debut by 2 ¾ lengths on May 9 at Churchill Downs going 4 ½ furlongs.
Skyway won his debut start by 6 ¾ lengths in a maiden race at Keeneland for trainer Mark Casse, also at 4 ½ furlongs.
JUAN SAEZ GETS FIRST THREE U.S. WINS
Juan Saez, who finished second in his U.S. debut at Churchill Downs on Thursday, followed that performance by taking the opening two races on Friday night’s “Downs After Dark” card. He also won aboard his first mount Saturday to collect three wins in two days.
Born June 24, 1997 in Dardien, Panama, the younger brother of jockey Luis Saez won aboard Miesque Amour for trainer Billy Gowan and Shere Khan for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Friday. He followed that up winning Saturday’s third race for trainer Donald Habeeb on Transylvania Flash.
‘FAMILY ADVENTURE DAY’ RETURNS SUNDAY
Churchill Downs will host its second “Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger” on Sunday.
While adults enjoy an action-packed day of live racing, the Churchill Downs Plaza will be transformed into a family-friendly playground featuring crafts, face painters, numerous inflatables, nine-hole mini golf, stick-horse races, a Hula Hoop contest, cookies-and-canvas painting classes, carnival games, sidewalk chalk area, and appearances by Churchill Charlie for the delight of children of all ages.
Churchill Downs admission gates open and the Family Adventure Days activities begin Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the first race is 12:45 p.m.
Sunday’s Family Adventure Day celebration also will feature a break dancing group accompanied by a Kids DJ/emcee. Additionally, the Kentucky Derby Museum will present story time, along with a meet-and-greet session with Winston, the museum’s resident miniature horse.
The new Grandstand Pavilion (Sections 326-328) has been designated as a family-friendly area for the day where guests can gather for group dining, seating, to watch the races and provide convenient access to family activities in the Plaza. A Family Pavilion wristband is required to access the area and to participate in all Family Adventure Day activities. Wristbands can be purchased online in advance for $5 per person at www.churchilldowns.com/familyadventureday or $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under at the track on the day of the event. Regular $3 admission fees will apply for other track areas.
Partial proceeds from Grandstand Pavilion Ticket sales will support Kosair Children’s Hospital.
THIS WEEKEND AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Saturday, June 21
Sunday, June 22 – Family Adventure Day