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BARN NOTES (6.4.09) - Albarado Takes Aim on 5,000 Win Milestone/Einstein Tops Foster 'Cap Noms/General Quarters Out Until Fall
WITH 4,000 VICTORIES, ALBARADO AIMS FOR NEXT MILESTONE – With one milestone behind him, jockey Robby Albarado took time out the other morning to reflect on some of the magic moments en route to 4,000 career victories, mark he achieved at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
“Obviously, the very first one I won in 1990,” Albarado said of One Little Point at Evangeline Downs on June 29 as he began to click off a top five.
“The other four would have to be with Curlin and Mineshaft. Those were great moments there and getting my first Grade I was pretty special with Joyeux Danseur here in the (1998) Early Times (now Woodford Reserve) Turf Classic.”
Albarado got his milestone victory in Saturday’s ninth race aboard Keertana. Earlier in the day in the third race at Philadelphia Park, Jose Luis Flores got his 4,000th victory, which made Albarado the 57th North American rider to reach that plateau.
Albarado, who turns 36 in September, was asked what the first race would be that he would pop into a VCR many years down the road of Robby’s greatest hits to share with the grandkids.
“The first race in the VCR probably would have to be Preakness,” Albarado said of Curlin’s victory over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. “My first Triple Crown win was pretty special there. It was a proud moment in my career.”
There are 24 North American riders with more than 5,000 victories with another 16 active riders, including Albarado, in the 4,000 club in pursuit of the next milestone.
Albarado was asked what he would like to add to his list of memorable victories when No. 5,000 rolled around.
“Oh, that’s easy. The Derby, of course,” Albarado said. “Hopefully between now and the next thousand if I get there, I’ll have at least one Derby. That would be special.”
EINSTEIN HEADS LIST OF 20 NOMINATIONS FOR STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP – Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, runner-up to “Horse of the Year” Curlin in last year’s renewal of the Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I), tops a list of 20 nominees for this year’s renewal, which will be run Saturday, June 13.
Weights for the $600,000 Stephen Foster, to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, will be announced Saturday.
Einstein will be seeking to join Lava Man as the only horse to win Grade I races on dirt, grass and synthetic surfaces. Unlike Lava Man, Einstein will attempt to create his own triple in consecutive races.
Trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi, Einstein won the Santa Anita Handicap on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface on March 7 and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 2 in his two most recent starts.
Einstein is one six horses considered as probable for the Stephen Foster by Churchill Downs stakes coordinator Allison De Luca. Other probables include Arson Squad, winner of last fall’s Meadowlands Cup (Grade II), Bullsbay, winner of the May 1 Alysheba (Grade III) here, 2009 New Orleans Handicap (Grade II) winner Macho Again, Charles Town Classic winner Researcher, multi-South Florida graded-stakes winner Finallymadeit and Dubious Miss. Considered as “possible” is $3 million earner Asiatic Boy, who has not run since he finished 12th to Well Armed in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 28.
BIG NAMES DOT REUNION DAY NOMINATIONS – Dual Grade II Churchill Downs stakes winner Miss Isella, Coolmore Lexington (Grade II) winner Advice and the promising Warrior’s Reward highlight the list of nominees considered as “probable” to participate on the June 13 Reunion Day Featuring the Stephen Foster Handicap card.
Two Grade II and two Grade III stakes will serve as the appetizers leading up to the 28th running of the Stephen Foster.
Miss Isella, winner of the Louisville Distaff in her most recent start on May 1, tops a list of five probables and two possibles for the 35th running of the $200,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (Grade II), a1 1/8th-mile main track test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. Weights for the race will be announced Saturday.
In addition to Miss Isella, other probables for the race according to stakes coordinator Allison De Luca are Distinctive Dixie, Kiss With a Twist, Santa Teresita, Swift Temper and Unforgotten. Considered as possible are All Smiles and Temple Street.
Advice, who followed up his Coolmore Lexington victory with a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), is poised to make his grass debut in the 34th running of the $150,000-added Jefferson Cup (Grade II) at 1 1/8 miles. Other probables include El Crespo, Jake Wil Gallop and No Inflation.
Warrior’s Reward, a stylish allowance winner here on May 1, is one of five probables for the 12th running of the $100,000-added Northern Dancer (Grade III) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16th miles on the main track.
Other Northern Dancer probables include Gresham, Omniscient, Parade Clown and Successful Dan.
Five 3-year-old fillies are considered as probable starters for the 40th running of the $150,000 Regret (Grade III) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The quintet includes Banker’s Choice, Oculuna, Prytania, Super Poni and The Best Day Ever with Keertana, who gave jockey Robby Albarado his 4,000th victory last Saturday, considered as a possible starter.
Entries for all five stakes on the Reunion Day card will be drawn Wednesday.
AMOSS JOINS BYRNE FOR SATURDAY’S ‘GET IN THE GAME’ SEMINAR – Trainer and television racing analyst Tom Amoss will discuss the Belmont Stakes and more when he joins Churchill Downs’ Jill Byrne for her weekly “Get in the Game” handicapping seminar on Saturday, June 6.
Amoss, a New Orleans native who is a two-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs, also serves as a racing analyst for TVG and will offer his perspective on Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird’s bid for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Byrne’s recent guests in the seminar have included two-time Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel and Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr., trainer of Mine That Bird.
MILESTONE WATCH – David Vance, one of 22 North American trainers with more than 3,000 career victories (3,011), will try to become the 11th conditioner at Churchill Downs to have 300 victories beneath the Twins Spires in Thursday’s third race.
Vance, who has 299 wins here, sends out Chief Waterbury in the third. Vance has two horses entered on Friday’s 11-race card: My Little Connor in the second and Closetoaten in the ninth.
Trainer Bill Connelly, two wins shy of 1,000 for his career, sends out Sweetasnails in Thursday’s ninth race. On Friday, Connelly’s Sinus Rhythm is on the also-eligible list in the 10th race.
BARN TALK – Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) winner General Quarters, who ran 10th in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness Stakes (Grade I) will be out until late fall after having a small chip removed from his right front knee.
“He is doing well,” owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said. “I’d like to have him ready for the Clark Handicap if possible.
“After the Derby we noticed a little filling, but there was no heat or discomfort. It was not a major thing. After the Preakness, I took him to Rood & Riddle in Lexington and had it x-rayed. There was not much there but we went ahead and took it out.”
McCarthy has an idea of when the injury may have occurred in the Derby.
“We went back and looked at pictures of the race, and there was one in which he had three feet up and the right front was on the ground,” McCarthy said. “He got bumped at that time and he might have twisted it then.” …
Training hours will be adjusted the mornings of Monday, June 15 and Tuesday June 16 to begin at 5 a.m. to give trainers an opportunity to train under the lights in advance of the debut of night racing at Churchill Downs on Friday, June 19.
WORK TAB (Track: Good, then MUDDY) – Trainer Ian Wilkes sent out two of his aces for the June 13 Reunion Day card for five-furlong works over a “muddy” Churchill Downs main track. Northern Dancer candidate Warrior’s Reward covered the distance in 1:01.60, the fastest of eight at the distance. Likely Fleur De Lis favorite Miss Isella covered the distance in 1:02.60.