THIRTY-FOUR NOMINATED TO 36TH RUNNING OF CARDINAL - The $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (GIII), to be run at 1 1/8 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course on Nov. 15 for fillies and mares three-years-old and up, drew 34 nominees. Weights for the race, won last year by Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's Criminologist, will be announced Saturday.
Considered as "definite" for the Cardinal according to Racing Secretary Ben Huffman are Pegasus Horses, Ltd.'s Ballymore Lady, Three Chimneys Racing's Callwood Dancer (IRE) and Alfred Nuckols Jr.'s Kiss With a Twist.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Ballymore Lady finished second to champion Dreaming of Anna in this summer's Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs, finishing 1 ½ lengths ahead of Kiss With a Twist, trained by Jose Fernandez.
Callwood Dancer, trained by Roger Attfield, won the Grade II Nassau at Woodbine in May. In her two most recent starts, she ran second in the Grade II Canadian and Grade I E.P. Taylor at Woodbine. She never has started at Churchill Downs.
THORN SONG MAY DEFEND TITLE IN GRADE III RIVER CITY - Zayat Stables' Thorn Song, ninth in his most recent start in the Breeders' Cup Mile (GI) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, may shoot for two wins in a row in the Grade III River City Handicap on Nov. 22, according to trainer Dale Romans.
"He came out of the race fine," Romans said of the Breeders' Cup effort that marked Thorn Song's fifth Grade I start of 2008. "There's a good possibility he will run back in the River City."
In last year's renewal of the River City, Thorn Song defeated Cosmonaut by a half-length in the 1 1/8-mile test. This summer, Thorn Song scored a front-running victory in the Firecracker (GII), defeating Einstein by a length.
Romans started one other horse in the World Championships at Santa Anita, C.S. Silk, who ran seventh on Oct. 24 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).
"She ran too fast early. She ran the first three-quarters in 1:09 and 4 and still only got beat a little more than six lengths," Romans said of C.S. Silk, who is owned by William Pacella, George Bonomo and Fred Barbara. "The Golden Rod (GII on Nov. 29) is a possibility for her."
Romans may have another starter for the Golden Rod in Pocahontas (GIII) winner Sara Louise.
"We are going to have to make a decision on her," Romans said of the filly who scored by 3 ¾ lengths last Saturday for Eldon Farm Equine (John Luke). "It will be either the Golden Rod or give her the rest of the year off."
GOLDEN ROD START POSSIBLE FOR RACHEL ALEXANDRA - Trainer Hal Wiggins reported that Dolphus Morrison's Rachel Alexandra came out of her runner-up effort in the Pocahontas in good order and that a start in the $150,000-added Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles was one option under consideration for the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro.
"She and Abbott Hall (also owned by Morrison and fifth in the Pocahontas) will both resume galloping [Thursday]," Wiggins said. "With Rachel Alexandra we are also looking at the $500,000 race at Delta Downs (the Grade III Delta Princess at a mile on Dec. 5) as another option."
Rachel Alexandra ran second this summer in the Debutante (GIII) and returned off a nearly four-month layoff to win a six-furlong allowance sprint over Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 17.
"We brought her back a little quick (in the Pocahontas) and the Delta race would give us a full week more between starts," Wiggins said.
Abbott Hall likely will be pointed to the Caressing, which be run at a mile on the turf on Nov. 29.
"She will likely go there, but I may try her on dirt again," Wiggins said of Abbott Hall, who is a stakes winner on the turf. "She ran good in her first start at Ellis, which was on dirt."
BARN TALK - Trainer Bob Holthus said that Pure Clan, who finished last in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita, is done for the year. "She's out in the pasture now and we will pick her up the first of the year, hope to get a couple of wins and try the Breeders' Cup again," Holthus said. "I don't know what happened to her out there. She had never run like that before and she had worked well here before she shipped out there." ... Trainer Jim Baker was not sure what would be next for Tom Walters' Pretty Prolific, who ran fourth as the 5-2 second choice in the Pocahontas. "She made a middle move, but didn't finish up too well," Baker said. "It was not a bad race, but then it was not a good race either. Maybe she was a little too fresh because it was her first race in two months. I'd say the Golden Rod is doubtful. We'll nominate her and see who is in it and, if it is a short field, we may run. But I'd rather run her in an allowance race and get a win under her belt."
WORK TAB - William Carl's Screen Your Friend, winner of the Bashford Manor (GIII) this summer, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a "fast" track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. The move was the fourth best of 39 at the distance. ... Elisabeth Alexander's Magna Graduate returned to the work tab Tuesday for a leisurely half-mile work in :53.20. Magna Graduate won the opening-day Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) for trainer Steve Asmussen. Also returning to the work tab for Asmussen was Mike McCarty's Storm Treasure, who breezed an easy half-mile in :51.60 on Monday in his first work since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
THIS WEEK'S GUEST ANNOUNCER: TRAVIS STONE - Travis Stone, the 24-year-old who is the track announcer for Harrah's Louisiana Downs, will describe this week's racing action as Churchill Downs continues its search to replace the late Luke Kruytbosch as the next "Voice of the Kentucky Derby".
There will be a different track announcer each week during the five-week Fall Meet. Calder's Bobby Neuman concluded his opening-week duties Sunday. Also scheduled for a turn behind the microphone are Golden Gate's Michael Wrona (Nov. 11-16); Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park and Suffolk Downs' Larry Collmus (Nov. 19-23); and England's Mark Johnson (Nov. 26-29).
Churchill Downs officials are seeking input from customers and encouraging comment via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALVIN BOREL GLASS GIVEAWAY ON SATURDAY - The week's promotional calendar is highlighted by the first of three collectable hurricane glass giveaways that salute popular Cajun jockeys who ride at Churchill Downs. A Calvin Borel glass, sponsored by Thorntons, will be given away to the first 5,000 paid and pre-paid admissions on Saturday. Glasses depicting Robby Albarado and Kent Desormeaux will be given away on Nov. 15 and Nov. 22, respectively.
FRIDAY HAPPY HOURS - New Orleans-themed "Friday Happy Hours" - featuring $2 Budweiser Select, $2 hurricanes, $2 Fischer's hot dogs and live jazz music - will be held Friday from 3-5 p.m. in the upper Jockey Club's paddock balcony area.
SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE DOWNS - Sunday Brunch at Churchill Downs will return to the Louisville, Ky. racetrack this Sunday.
For $41.50 ($25 for children 12 and under), customers can dine and watch the Nov. 9 races from a reserved seat Millionaires' Row Six, the luxurious 9,000 square-foot room with a four-tier balcony that overlooks the finish line. The brunch, accompanied by live jazz music, is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features a wide selection of food, including stuffed French toast, eggs, maple smoked bacon, homemade biscuits and gravy, carved roast turkey, fresh salads and plenty of sides. Appetizers and a bountiful desert tray will be available until 5 p.m.
Brunch and an official program is included in the admission price. Another Sunday Brunch is scheduled for Nov. 23. The reserve a spot, call (502) 636-4400.
"IN SEASON" AIRS ON WAVE-3 SATURDAY - "In Season," Churchill Downs' weekly magazine-style television program hosted by John Asher, will air Saturday on NBC affiliate WAVE-3 in the Louisville area. The live half-hour program will be broadcast from 9:30-10 a.m. ET.
JUNIOR JOCKEY CLUB WEEKEND ACTIVITIES - A special appearance by the Louisville Fire Department Fire Safety Trailer and a fire truck display will highlight this weekend's activities at Churchill Downs' Junior Jockey Club located near the Guest Services Booth inside Gate. 10. The LFD will be on hand Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There also will be cloth pumpkin crafts for children age 4-10. Coloring books, crayons, individual games and reading material are available as well, and Churchill Downs' mascot Churchill Charlie will be on hand for photographs between 1-1:30 p.m.
HANDICAPPING CONTEST WEDNESDAYS, SUNDAYS - Racing fans can pit their handicapping skills against the best Louisville has to offer every Wednesday and Sunday in the popular twice-weekly "Who's the Champ?" Handicapping Contest. For a $30 entry fee ($25 for Twin Spires Club members), participants will compete for weekly cash prizes and an invitation to the Nov. 23 final where the top two finishers will win coveted berths in the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship X slated for Jan. 23-24, 2009 in Las Vegas.
SPECIAL VETERANS DAY RACING ON TUESDAY - Churchill Downs will host a special live racing program on Tuesday, Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day. The first of 10 live races will be 12:40 p.m. ET.