Morton Fink’s homebred Wise Dan completed his major training preparations for the June 16 $400,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) at Churchill Downs with a bullet five-furlong work in :59.40 for trainer Charlie Lopresti on Thursday over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland.
The 31st running of the Stephen Foster for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track will make history as it will be run under the lights for the first time as part of the “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program. Also for the first time, the Stephen Foster Handicap is part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships’ “Win and You’re In" series and its winner will earn an automatic starting berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
“He went very well,” Lopresti said. “He’s been working lights out.”
Wise Dan, a 5-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry, will enter the Stephen Foster off a 10 ½-length romp in the Ben Ali (GIII) on April 22 at Keeneland in his first start since winning the Clark Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs in November. In both of those starts, Wise Dan was ridden by John Velazquez and Lopresti said Thursday morning Velazquez would be aboard in the Stephen Foster.
Wise Dan’s half-brother Successful Dan, also a Fink homebred, breezed five furlongs at Keeneland on Tuesday in :58.80. A 6-year-old gelded son of Successful Appeal, Successful Dan most recently won Churchill Downs’ Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GII) in track-record time on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard.
“We will probably enter them both, but I don’t want to run them against each other,” Lopresti said. “Wise Dan will start in the Stephen Foster and Successful Dan will be entered as a back-up plan. I’d hate for Wise Dan to come down with a fever or something before the race and have to be scratched and then we’re sitting on the sidelines if we don’t enter Successful Dan, too.
“My goal for Successful Dan is the Suburban (GII at Belmont Park on July 7) or the Cornhusker (GIII at Prairie Meadows on June 30).”
While Thursday marked the final major pre-Foster move for Wise Dan, Lopresti noted he might school him in the gate at Keeneland before the race and could bring him to Louisville on Sunday to school in the paddock.
“As long as they both come out of these works well, I think I’ve got them both where they were before their last races,” Lopresti said.
MOTT CONFIRMS ROYAL DELTA IS A GO FOR FLEUR DE LIS – Besilu Stables’ Royal Delta, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2011, will return to Churchill Downs for the first time since she capped off her sophomore season with a 2 ½-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) in the $150,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII).
The 37th running of the Fleur de Lis for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Churchill Downs will be run under the lights for the first time as part of the “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia racing program on June 16, Stephen Foster Handicap Day.
After finishing second in the Sabin (GIII) to Awesome Maria in her 4-year-old debut, Royal Delta traveled to Dubai, where she finished ninth against the boys in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (GI).
Since returning to the States, Royal Delta has recorded four workouts at Belmont Park. Most recently she breezed five furlongs in :59.40 on June 3. It was the fastest of 29 works at the distance.
“She’s doing really well and has had a couple of nice works since coming back,” trainer Bill Mott said. “The (Fleur de Lis) wasn’t something that was planned right after the World Cup, but it’s something we came up with a couple of weeks ago.”
A dark bay or brown daughter of Empire Maker, Royal Delta has a record of 5-2-1 from 10 starts that is highlighted by victories in the Alabama (GI) at Saratoga and the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico, as well as the aforementioned Ladies’ Classic.
She was ridden by Jose Lezcano in nine of her 10 starts, but will have a new rider in the Fleur de Lis as Mott confirmed Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will get the mount next Saturday.
Royal Delta is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday.
SPRING MEET LEADERS AT A GLANCE – Through 23 days of the 39-day Spring Meet, jockey Corey Lanerie, trainers Steve Asmussen, Bret Calhoun and Dale Romans and owner Paula Haughey’s PTK LLC are the leaders in their respective categories at Churchill Downs. Here is a look at the leaders entering Thursday’s action:
1. Corey Lanerie (37-for-145, 26% win-percentage, $1,118,280 in earnings)
2. Shaun Bridgmohan (28-for-137, 20%, $1,123,761)
3. Calvin Borel (19-for-129, 15%, $520,124)
3. Miguel Mena (19-for-116, 16%, $658,767)
5. Leandro Goncalves (17-for-110, 15%, $553,079)
1. Steve Asmussen (9-for-51, 18%, $569,687)
1. Bret Calhoun (9-for-29, 31%, $320,363)
1. Dale Romans (8-for-56, 14%, $1,221,193)
4. Tom Amoss (8-for-31, 26%, $223,661)
4. Wayne Catalano (7-for-20, 35%, $265,172)
4. Dane Kobiskie (8-for-19, 42%, $140,186)
4. Ken McPeek (8-for-33, 24%, $286,556)
1. Paula Haughey’s PTK LLC (8-for-19, 42%, $140,186)
2. Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. (7-for-19, 37%, $121,008)
2. John Oxley (7-for-19, 37%, $271,132)
4. Billy, Donna and Justin Hays (4-for-38, 11%, $89,749)
4. Ken and Sarah Ramsey (4-for-30, 13%, $219,461)
BARN TALK – Amy Kearns of Stonestreet Stables said Thursday morning that My Miss Aurelia, the unbeaten champion 2-year-old filly of 2011, would van from Ocala, Fla. to Louisville on Friday and should arrive at the Steve Asmussen barn at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.
Owned by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton, My Miss Aurelia won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs in November to cap off her championship season.
She was given time off to recover from a shin injury and resumed training in March at Vinery’s training facility in Florida. On May 15, she breezed three furlongs in :39 in her first workout since returning to training.
Kearns said there are no plans yet for when My Miss Aurelia will make her anticipated 3-year-old debut. …
Becky Winemiller’s Wine Princess, a 3-year-old chestnut filly out of 2002 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Azeri, will seek to record back-to-back wins in Friday’s 10th race at Churchill Downs.
By Ghostzapper, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, Wine Princess also will be seeking her second victory of the Spring Meet. In her second career start, she broke her maiden by five lengths at one mile on the dirt at Churchill Downs in a race on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard.
Friday’s race is also at one mile, but will be contested on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Wine Princess made her career debut on the turf at Fair Grounds, finishing second going 5 ½ furlongs.
“I don’t think the surface matters,” trainer Steve Margolis said. “Also, the timing was good and we have a few fillies in the same condition (non-winners of one other than) and have been trying to figure out spots for all of them.”
Wine Princess is the 3-1 morning-line second choice Friday. The morning-line favorite at 2-1 is Stone Farm and Joseph Sutton’s homebred Kitty Wine, who most recently finished second behind Warm Hugs in an allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 2. …
The sixth race at Churchill Downs on Friday features an interesting group of 2-year-old maiden colts.
The morning-line favorite at 2-1 is Mike Tarp’s John Gordon, who finished second to Good Tickled in his career debut on May 18 at Churchill Downs.
The 5-2 morning-line second choice is the John Oxley entry of American Indian and Cowdray Park. Both colts will be making their career debuts for trainer Mark Casse. American Indian, a bay son of Indian Charlie, is a half-brother to Kodiak Kowboy, the champion male sprinter of 2009. Cowdray Park is a bay son of Bernardini out of the Maudlin mare Beautiful Pleasure, the champion older female of 1999. Her best foal to date is Dr. Pleasure, who finished third to Bernardini in the 2006 Travers (GI) at Saratoga.
Chuck and Maribeth Sandford LLC’s Positively also has an interesting pedigree. The bay son of Distorted Humor is a half-brother to one of America’s leading sires, Malibu Moon. Positively is 5-1 on the morning line.
KatieRich Stables’ homebred Poison Apple is out of the graded-stakes placed mare Miss Mary Apples and is a half-brother to stakes winners Miss Red Delicious and Dr. Diamonds Prize.
Rounding out the field is Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Hightail, Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Hornet and Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Tattaglia.
Post time for the sixth race Friday is 5:22 p.m. …
Agent Steve Bass reports that jockey Julien Leparoux, the 10th all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, will return to ride at the Louisville track on Stephen Foster Day on June 16. His mounts include Fort Larned in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and Colonial Flag in the Regret (GIII). …
Nominations for the 112th running of the $100,000-added Debutante (GIII) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs on the main track at Churchill Downs close Saturday, June 9. The Debutante was won last year by Barry King’s Flashy Lassie for trainer Garry Simms.
WORKTAB – Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River, runner-up in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (GI) and this spring’s La Troienne (GII) in her two races at Churchill Downs, breezed four furlongs on the fast main track beneath the Twin Spires on Thursday in :48.80 for trainer Andy Leggio Jr. It was the eighth fastest of 35 at the distance. A 4-year-old bay daughter of Include, St. John’s River is being pointed to the $150,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs on June 16 as part of the Stephen Foster Day undercard.
Glen Hill Farm’s Left a Message breezed seven furlongs on the firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:32 under Shane Sellers. The Tom Proctor-trained Left a Message is being pointed to the $100,000-added Regret (GIII) at Churchill Downs on June 16. …
Hurstland Farm Inc. and James H. Greene Jr.’s homebred Heart of Destiny, runner-up to Stephanie’s Kitten in last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland, breezed six furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:17 for trainer Jimmy Baker. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan was aboard for the work and will have the mount on Heart of Destiny when she makes her next start in the Regret on June 16.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Stephanie’s Kitten continued her preparations for a start in the Coronation (GI) at Royal Ascot in England with a seven-furlong breeze on the Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:31.40 Thursday morning for trainer Wayne Catalano. …
WEATHER – Thursday: sunny, 80. Thursday night: mostly clear, 59. Friday: sunny, 85. Saturday: sunny, 88. Sunday: mostly sunny, 89. Monday: partly sunny with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 85. Tuesday: mostly cloudy with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 83. Wednesday: partly sunny with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 84.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013, and its 2012 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
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