STEWART GLANCES AT FORECAST, WORKS BELMONT STAKES HOPE MACHO AGAIN – West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again, runner-up to Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) champ and Triple Crown hope Big Brown in the Preakness (GI), turned in his final major work for next week’s Belmont Stakes in a strong four-furlong move at Churchill Downs on Friday.
Macho Again covered the distance over a “fast” track under former jockey Kenny Bourque in :48.20. The move ranked 11th of 55 works at the distance.
Trainer Dallas Stewart had planned to work the 3-year-old son of Macho Uno, the winner of Churchill Downs’ $100,000-added Derby Trial, on Saturday. But he called an audible in part because of a weather forecast that called for storms late Friday evening that would continue into Saturday morning.
“It was the combination of the weather and the shipping (schedule),” said Stewart. “With the combination of those two, we thought it would be better to work today.”
Churchill Downs’ clockers caught Macho Again’s first quarter in :25. Stewart timed his star colt in similar fractions.
“I’m very happy,” Stewart said. “He went off in :13 for the first eighth, and then he went like :25-and-a-couple (for the quarter). He went three-eighths in :37 and then came home in :11 flat for the last eighth. We just opened him up a little bit the last three-sixteenths.”
Macho Again is scheduled to board a flight to New York on Tuesday, with a rematch with Big Brown set for Saturday, June 7 in the $1 million Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of the Triple Crown.
“He’s doing real well,” said Stewart. “He came out of that race (the Preakness) good and his work showed the he’s on top of his game. He was actually pretty fresh cooling out and he had no problems. We’re excited about taking him up there and going through another fight and see how we do.”
Macho Again will bring a career record of 3-3-0 in nine races and earnings of $343,761 into the Belmont Stakes. Despite his colt’s runner-up finish in the Preakness, Stewart knows his colt will be a long shot to upset the heavily favored Big Brown as the Kentucky Derby winner bids to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown. But Stewart said Macho Again is ready to challenge the overwhelming favorite in the raced that has been dubbed the “Test of the Champion.”
“They’ve got to go around there and run,” said Stewart. “He’s had a couple of bumps in the road. His trainer is very positive about the way he’s doing, but you know he’s got a couple of hoops to jump through to get him to the race, too.”
The other Churchill Downs-based Belmont Stakes contender, Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Monday.
Both horses are scheduled to fly to New York on Tuesday.
KENNEALLY SAYS KELLY’S LANDING COULD BE ‘BETTER’ THAN EVER, READY FOR ARISTIDES – Trainer Eddie Kenneally is getting a much later than expected start on the 2008 campaign of Summerplace Farm’s veteran sprint star Kelly’s Landing, but likes the look of the 7-year-old gelding as the son of Patton prepares to bid for a second victory in Churchill Downs’ $125,000-added Aristides Stakes (GIII) on Saturday.
Kelly’s Landing won the six-furlong race in 2005, then finished a strong second to champion Lost in the Fog in its 2006 renewal.
This year’s running of the Aristides will be only the second start of 2008 for Kelly’s Landing, and his second since a fifth-place finish to easy winner Midnight Lute in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) in the slop at Monmouth Park. That race was the final start of a 2007 campaign highlighted by a victory in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) at Nad Al Sheba.
“After the Breeders’ Cup he got sick,” said Kenneally. “We were hoping to run him in January in the (Grade III) Mr. Prospector (at Gulfstream Park), which he won last year before he went to Dubai. But he was sick all winter. He had an abscess on his lungs – for whatever reason, we don’t know. It took forever to get back, to play catch-up and get a prep into him.”
Kenneally’s star made that anticipated return to competition at Churchill Downs on May 11, where he finished third on a “sloppy” track to Aristides rival Indian Chant in a six-furlong allowance prep for the Aristides. That race matched the past two track record-setters for the Aristides distance at the Louisville track. Kelly’s Landing had established a track record of 1:07.59 in winning the 2005 renewal of the Aristides, in which he eclipsed a record set by Kona Gold in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI). Kelly’s Landing’s standard lasted until July 8, 2007, when Indian Chant flew through the distance in 1:07.55 in winning an allowance race on the Spring Meet’s closing day.
Indian Chant led most of the way in notching his five-length victory in this spring’s head-to-head meeting with Kelly’s Landing. But Kenneally’s star, ridden by Julien Leparoux, offered a strong rally over a wet surface that Kenneally said his veteran star clearly disliked.
“He ran very well,” said Kenneally. “He just got tired, and Julien didn’t beat him up. He was very easy on him – he knew that we were prepping for this stake. He didn’t like the mud – he’s never liked mud. He’s not a mud horse. But the horse came out of it good and he’s ready to go.”
With that lone start of his 2008 campaign under his belt, Kelly’s Landing will bring a career record of 9-3-2 in 23 starts and earnings of $1,811,557 into the Aristides. Despite the late start on his 2008 campaign, Kenneally has an ambitious plan for the rest of the year that includes another bid for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which will be run this year over a synthetic surface at Santa Anita. He believes that, as good as Kelly’s Landing has been over the past three racing seasons, his star could just be hitting his best stride.
“I think he’s as good, or better, than ever,” Kenneally said. “When he’s good, he’s real good – and I think he’s good again.”
BARN TALK – The race for leading jockey of the 52-day Spring Meet has been a nose-to-nose battle throughout this week between Robby Albarado, who is looking for his first Churchill Downs riding crown, and Julien Leparoux, who is bidding for his third straight Spring Meet crown and his fourth Churchill title overall. Each jockey won a pair of races on Thursday and that allowed Albarado to maintain a narrow 30-29 advantage over Leparoux. Miguel Mena stands in third with 27 victories. …Thursday’s biggest riding star was Jamie Theriot, who notched three wins on the day to improve his Spring Meet record to 14 wins from 108 starts. Theriot won the 2nd race on Splish ($3.20), the 3rd on Angelica Delight ($3.40) and the 9th with Night Book ($15). …Trainer Eddie Kenneally will seek a stakes double on Saturday’s three-stakes program as he saddles Gary and Mary West’s La Troienne (GIII) runner-up Keep the Peace in the $100,000-added Dogwood. Winner Game Face is passing the race in favor of Belmont’s Acorn (GI), but Keep the Peace will be joined in the Dogwood starting gate by the 3-year-old fillies that finished in the third-through-fifth positions in the La Troienne: Tiz to Dream, Alina, and Secret Gypsy. “This filly’s a little bit unlucky,” said Kenneally. “She’s been second in two graded stakes – she hasn’t won one yet.” … Cougar Cat, the Ronny Werner-trained runner-up to Fabulous Strike in the 2007 Aristides, breezed four furlongs over a “fast” track on Friday in :49.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Thursday, May 29
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 114 30-11-15
Julien Leparoux 163 29-28-32
Miguel Mena 161 27-22-23
Calvin Borel 162 22-23-24
Shaun Bridgmohan 103 22-19-12
Jesus Castanon 126 17-12-11
Jamie Theriot 108 14-15-9
Brian Hernandez, Jr. 84 7-13-10
Elvis Trujillo 34 7-5-9
Corey Lanerie 98 6-16-9
John McKee 69 6-11-12
Larry Sterling, Jr. 47 6-5-7
Kent Desormeaux 31 5-8-6
Tracy Hebert 63 5-3-5
Ken McPeek 38 17-5-4
Steve Asmussen 63 14-11-10
Tom Amoss 39 13-6-6
Mike Maker 29 8-5-3
Ian Wilkes 23 8-5-3
Dale Romans 61 6-13-10
Greg Foley 39 6-7-5
Eddie Kenneally 31 6-2-7
Five (5) trainers tied with five (5) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 26 8-3-5
Maggi Moss 15 6-2-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 26 5-5-5
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 19 4-4-2
Padua Stables 6 4-1-0
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 7 4-0-0
Four (4) owners tied with three (3) wins