EINSTEIN WORKS HALF-MILE IN FINAL FOSTER TUNEUP – With trainer Helen Pitts aboard, Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein (BRZ) worked a half-mile in :50.20 over a fast track early Sunday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for Saturday’s $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I). The move was the 34th fastest of 63 at the distance. “That was called sit still and don’t move,” Pitts said, giving a thumbs up to the move as Einstein returned to the barn. “He worked good today and galloped out good and strong.” The work was the third for Einstein since he won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I) for a second consecutive year on May 2. Prior to that win, Einstein won the Santa Anita Handicap (GI) on the California track’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface. A Grade I victory on dirt is about the only thing missing on Einstein’s resume that shows a career record of 25-11-3-2 for earnings of $2,609,904. Only Lava Man has won Grade Is on three surfaces, but he did not do it in consecutive races. “It would be special if he could do that,” Pitts said of Einstein, who finished second to Horse of the Year Curlin in last summer’s Foster and won the Grade II Clark Handicap on the dirt here last fall. “He just loves the game. He’s fun. He gives you 110 percent every time. “I don’t worry about him on the dirt, but I know it is his least favorite surface. But he doesn’t care. I just want the best for him because he tries so hard.” Einstein was assigned top weight of 124 pounds for the Clark and will be asked to concede up to 11 pounds to the seven foes likely to line up against him. Entries close Wednesday.
ACOMA, PURE CLAN EXIT EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP IN DUEL IN GOOD ORDER – The connections of the 1-2 Early Times Mint Julep (Grade III) finishers Acoma and Pure Clan reported their charges came out of Saturday’s race, which Acoma won by a neck, in good order. Trainer David Carroll said that Acoma, now 6-for-6 in the state of Kentucky, “beat some nice fillies yesterday for a Grade III. Corey (Lanerie) rode her great. She got the jump on Pure Clan and I am sure her people are happy with her race with it being the first one back (in nearly eight months).” Carroll, who likes to space Acoma’s races, said the Beverly D (GI). at 1 3/16 miles on Aug. 8 at Arlington Park may be next for the 4-year-old Empire Maker filly. “She has won the Grade IIs and Grade IIIs and she deserves a chance at Grade I,” Carroll said. “We’ll see what (co-owner) Helen (Alexander) wants to do.” Acoma is now 3-for-3 on the grass, and she could stay on that surface for a while. “I think she is better on the grass,” Carroll said, “But it wouldn’t hurt us if a race comes off the grass to the dirt.” Betsy Couch, assistant to trainer Bob Holthus, said that Lewis Lakin’s Pure Clan “ate up last night” and remains on track for the Grade III Modesty at Arlington Park on July 11 at 1 3/16th miles and then the Beverly D. “She can be a little quirky,” Couch said, “but I thought she did great in the paddock yesterday and Shaun (Bridgmohan) did a good job on her for being on her for the first time.” Couch also said that Lakin’s fourth-place finisher, Day of Victory, came out of the race well and would be pointed to the June 27 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows.
MILLER POINTS PAIR TO SATURDAY’S REGRET – Trainer Darrin Miller said Sunday morning that Silverton Hill’s Excelente (IRE) is headed toward Saturday’s 40th running of the $150,000-added Regret (Grade III) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. “We are leaning that way,” Miller said after Excelente worked a half-mile in :53 on the main track Sunday morning. “Oculuna is going to go in there, too.” Excelente, who began her racing career in Ireland, ran fourth in the May 1 Edgewood in her U.S. debut. She followed that effort runner-up finish to Consequence in the American 1,000 Guineas at Arlington Park on May 23. Miller has another Silverton Hill European import getting ready to return to the races in Driving Snow, a British-bred son of the Irish sire Verglas, “He worked the other day for the first time,” Miller said of a :38.60, three-furlong move on Monday. “He got a shin on me in Florida this winter. I’d like to get him to the races in July and I was looking at maybe the Secretariat (on Aug. 8), but that is kind of creeping up on us.” Driving Snow finished second in his U.S. debut last fall at Keeneland in the Grade III Bourbon Stakes. He rallied from 11th to lose by only a head to Bittel Road.
MILESTONE WATCH – Trainer Bill Connelly has two chances Sunday to reach the 1,000 career victory mark. Connelly, with 998 victories, will send out Talkin Indian in the seventh at Churchill Downs and Bred to Win in the second at Presque Isle Downs.
BARN TALK – Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who finished third in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, is scheduled to fly back to Louisville from New York at 9:30 a.m. Monday and return to Barn 42 at Churchill Downs. Darley Stable’s Florentino (JPN), scratched out of Friday’s Hill Prince (Grade III) when it was rained off the turf at Belmont Park, is headed to Louisville for Saturday’s Jefferson Cup (Grade II) according to Churchill Downs racing officials. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Florentino is expected to arrive Wednesday or Thursday with stablemate Asiatic Boy (ARG) who is coming in for the Stephen Foster.
WORK TAB – David Holloway’s Dubious Miss, working toward a probable run in Saturday’s Stephen Foster worked five furlongs over a fast track in 1:03.60. It was the 20th fastest move of 24 at the distance. Working a bullet for the distance was James Spence’s Flying Pegasus, who was timed in 1:00.20. Posting the bullet for a half-mile was multi-stakes winner Selva, whose :47 clocking was the best of 63 works at the distance. Showing up on the work tab for the first time since May 18, 2008, at Saratoga was Team Valor International’s King of the Roxy, who breezed three furlongs in :39.20. Last seen running sixth in the Grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct last April, King of the Roxy won the Belmont Futurity (GII) at age 2 in 2006 and the following spring won the Grade II Hutcheson and ran second in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. He returned to the Todd Pletcher barn last month.
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