BREEDERS’ CUP WINNER TAPITSFLY BACK IN ROMANS BARN – Trainer Dale Romans’ attention has been focused in recent days on his pair of contenders for Saturday’s Preakness (Grade I) – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Donald Dizney’s First Dude. But there is another reason for Romans to smile as he now can look down his shedrow and see the gray head of Tapitsfly poking out of her stall door.
Frank L. Jones Jr.’s homebred daughter of Tapit was last seen on the track in an impressive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf at Santa Anita, where she rallied from just off the pace to score a half-length victory under jockey Robby Albarado.
The promise of good things loomed for Tapitsfly after that race, which marked her third win in seven lifetime starts that also included a maiden win on traditional dirt at Saratoga and good efforts on dirt during the spring over her home track at Churchill Downs. But she was forced to the sidelines by injury early in her 3-year-old season and returned to Romans barn at the Louisville track a few days ago.
"We had a chip taken out of her ankle,” Romans said. “She’s back and looks better than ever, and we’ll start breezing her when we get back from Maryland.”
While she has run well on dirt, Tapitsfly is unbeaten in two races on the grass. While offspring of the versatile stallion Tapit seem to run well on just about any surface, she is out of Jones’ mare Flying Marlin, a turf specialist who won on grass courses at Churchill Downs and Keeneland during her 18-race career. Tapit’s other grass win came in the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga.
Once Tapitsfly begins to breeze, Romans is hoping for quick progress and a chance for Churchill Downs fans to see her compete.
“We’ll try to make one race by the end of the meet,” he said.
Tapitsfly’s career record stands at 3-2-1 in seven races with earnings of $668,142.
LIKELY CONTENDERS FOR STEPHEN FOSTER ‘CAP WORK – A pair of likely contenders for Churchill Downs $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) on June 12 were in action during training hours Friday morning at Churchill Downs as reigning champion Macho Again and Alysheba (GIII) winner Arson Squad appeared on the fast racing surface for morning works.
Both horses competed in the Alysheba on Kentucky Oaks Day. Jay Em Ess Stables’ Arson Squad scored an impressive 2 ½-length victory for trainer Rick Dutrow while the Dallas Stewart-trained Macho Again struggled to finish seventh of in that 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up..
Arson Squad, who ran fourth to Macho Again in last year’s Foster, breezed five furlongs in :50 on Friday. The move by the 7-year-old Brahms gelding ranked as the 16th fastest of 34 at the distance. The Dutrow trainee won the Skip Away (GIII) at Gulfstream Park prior to the Alysheba and now has a career record of 8-1-4 in 27 races with earnings of $1,108,164.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again has not won in five races since his triumph in the 2009 Foster – a string that included a narrow loss to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga.
Macho Again breezed a half-mile in :49.20 – a move that ranked eighth out of the 34 at the distance.
Macho Again’s record stands at 6-6-0 in 23 races with earnings of $1,819,050. He has run seven times at Churchill Downs, with a record of 3-1-0 in those races. The Alysheba was the first start of the year for Macho Again, and his first race since a ninth-place finish behind Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame in the $400,000 Clark Handicap (GII) on Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs.
Blame makes his 4-year-old debut on Saturday in the Schaefer Handicap (GII) on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. A good effort there could earn the Al Stall Jr. trainee a start in the Stephen Foster.
Nominations for the Stephen Foster Handicap and other stakes races on the June 12 undercard will close Saturday, May 29.
PREAKNESS STAKES FESTIVITIES AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Advanced wagering on the Preakness will be offered all day Friday at Churchill Downs, plus the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Double – similar to the Oaks/Derby Double – will connect Friday’s Grade II, $175,000 Black Eyed Susan and Saturday’s $1 million Preakness.
The pageantry of the Preakness Stakes will be featured prominently at Churchill Downs on Saturday with the simulcast of the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown from Pimlico.
The first 5,000 fans attending Churchill Downs will receive a free Super Saver/Calvin Borel commemorative button in the paddock area while supplies last. Also, Black-Eyed Susan specialty drinks will be on tap at Churchill Downs at select locations, plus Dixieland and Big Band music will be performed in the paddock area and Millionaires Row 4 and 6.
Additionally, the Crab Derby returns as select customers will be in crab costumes competing in races throughout the day, with the final being held on the Matt Winn Turf Course immediately after Race 7.
Post time for the Preakness Stakes simulcast is 6:15 p.m. ET, which immediately follows the 11th and final live race at 5:58 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY’S SEVENTH RACE TO HONOR OLMSTEAD – For the second consecutive year, Churchill Downs will run the Chuck Olmstead Memorial on Preakness Stakes Day to honor the memory of the popular Louisville telvision newsman who passed away in March 2009 after an aneurysm ruptured in his brain.
The second annual Chuck Olmstead Memorial will be run as Race 7 on Saturday at approximately 3:57 p.m. ET.
Olmstead, who was a 34-year veteran at WHAS-11, was a longtime fan of Thoroughbred racing. Both he and his signature hat were broadcast fixtures in the Churchill Downs paddock on Kentucky Derby.
With tremendous encouragement from the community, Chuck’s widow, Candy Olmstead, has established a special fund in her husband’s memory through Norton Healthcare Foundation to support screenings and education provided by Norton Neuroscience Institute. These screenings will help detect aneurysms before they rupture, increase awareness of symptoms of ruptured brain aneurysms and, perhaps, save lives in the process.
More information can be found and pledges can be made online at www.ChuckOlmsteadFund.com.
ASHER WILL BE SPECIAL ‘GET IN THE GAME WITH JILL BYRNE’ GUEST – Churchill Downs vice president of racing communications John Asher will be Saturday’s “Get in the Game with Jill Byrne” special guest. Byrne and Asher will provide insight and analysis of the Preakness Stakes plus select races at Pimlico Race Course and Churchill Downs. The half-hour program will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the paddock area and will be televised on television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.
WEEKLY HANDICAPPING CONTEST WILL OFFER PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES – This spring’s “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest at Churchill Downs will offer $4,000 in prize money each week and five prize packages to compete in the Horseplayer World Series in Las Vegas.
First prize each week will be $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.
The popular handicapping contest will begin this Sunday and continue every Sunday through June 13.
The “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest is a game of skill that tests the player’s ability to handicap Thoroughbred racing. Each contestant will start the day with a $24 imaginary bankroll and may only wager exactly $2 to win and $2 to place on six designated races from Churchill Downs.
The contest costs $30 per entry ($25 for Twin Spires Club members) and is limited to 400 entries with a limit of three entries per person. Registration will be open Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse.
BARN TALK – Fred Bradley’s homebred Brass Hat, winner of the 2009 Louisville Handicap (GIII), continues to gear-up for a defense of that victory. Trainer William “Buff” Bradley said Friday that the 9-year-old gelding would work Saturday in preparation for the $100,000-added at 1 ½ miles on turf on May 22. Regular rider Calvin Borel will be out of town for the Preakness bid by Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver on Friday, so veteran Charlie Woods is expected to be in the saddle for Brass Hat’s work … Leading rider Calvin Borel flew to Pimlico Thursday night for rides aboard Tidal Pool, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) in the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) on Friday and Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in Saturday’s Preakness. Borel will return to Churchill Downs on Sunday to continue his pursuit of his first Spring Meet riding title at Churchill Downs. Borel holds a 19-11 edge over Julien Leparoux in the race for leading rider. Shaun Bridgmohan and Garrett Gomez are tied for third at 10 victories. … Nominations close Saturday, May 15 for a pair of upcoming stakes races at Churchill Downs: the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds & up at six furlongs on Saturday, May 29, and the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up to be run on Memorial Day, May 31. Nominations can be made online at www.churchilldowns.com or by phone (502.636.4470) or fax (502.636.4598) before midnight (EDT) on Saturday.
WORK TAB (Main: FAST) – Carter Handicap (GI) winner and Churchill Downs (GII) runner-up Warrior’s Reward breezed four furlongs in :49.80 under exercise rider Tracey Wilkes. The Ian Wilkes trainee is being pointed toward the Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park and his work ranked as the 13th fastest of 38 at the distance.… Unforgotten breezed four furlongs in :50.60 for trainer Dallas Stewart. … Age of Humor, runner-up in the Bourbonette (GIII) at Turfway Park and 12th in the Kentucky Oaks, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Friday over a fast surface at the six-furlong oval at Trackside Training Center.