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Churchill Downs Trainers Look For Derby Stars to Shine in Belmont

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/10/2011 #
  • Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is the early favorite for Saturday's Belmont Stakes. (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Preakness winner Shackleford worked under Tammy Fox prior to the Kentucky Derby. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Capt. Candyman Can, third on the outside in the 2011 Aristides, could miss the rest of the year after being injured in the race.

  • Golden Rod (GII) winner Kathmanblu will attempt to return to winning form with a return to grass in the Regret. (Reed Palmer, CD

CHURCHILL TRAINERS LIKE 1-2 DERBY RUNNERS IN THE BELMONT – Trainers based at historic Churchill Downs have had the opportunity to see many of the contenders for the 143rd running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI) up close and personal.

The top seven finishers in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) will run in Saturday’s Belmont; three of which are based at Churchill Downs: Zayat Stables LLC’s Nehro (second), Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s Shackleford (fourth) and Tom WaltersSantiva (sixth).  Also based at Churchill Downs is Donald Adam’s Prime Cut, third in the recent Peter Pan (GII) at Belmont Park.

After following the Triple Crown races and observing many of the Belmont contenders condition beneath the Twin Spires, many trainers on the Louisville track’s backstretch have made up their minds as to who will win the third jewel of the Triple Crown and the majority are thinking Animal Kingdom or Nehro.

“Animal Kingdom will win the Belmont,” trainer Paul McGee said. “I picked him in the Derby and the Preakness (GI) and I’m going to stick with him.”

Trainer Steve Margolis, who collected his 100th win beneath the Twin Spires earlier in the meet, likes Animal Kingdom as well. “I’ll be rooting for Graham (Motion) and Animal Kingdom and I think he’ll win,” Margolis said. “But I also like Master of Hounds as a longshot possibility.”

“It’ll be a good race, but I don’t think anyone will beat Animal Kingdom,” trainer Scooter Dickey said.

Trainer Jimmy Baker, who has won with four of his 14 starters this meet, believes one of the favorites will cross the line first in the Belmont. “I like the favorites in the race,” Baker said. “Nehro will be fresh, Shackleford will be the pace and may hold on, and Animal Kingdom will be running at the end. One of those will win it.”

"How can you not like Animal Kingdom?,” said trainer Tom Amoss, who is currently tied with Dale Romans for second in the trainer standings with nine wins at the meet.

Trainer David Carroll is also in Animal Kingdom’s corner. “Animal Kingdom will win tomorrow (Saturday),” Carroll said.                                   

The other Belmont contender who has a lot of support on the Churchill Downs backstretch is Nehro.

“I like Shackleford and Animal Kingdom, but Nehro will be fresh and I think he’ll win,” trainer Bret Calhoun said.

Garry Simms, who has won with three of his ten starters this meet, also picked Nehro. “I hope Shackleford wins, but I’m going with (Steve) Asmussen’s horse (Nehro),” Simms said.

"I like Nehro and I think he’ll like the distance (1 ½-miles),” trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi said.

Trainer Dallas Stewart was one of the few trainers to not select Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, or Nehro. “I think a longshot is going to win,” Stewart said. “I just don’t know which one.”

Tom McCarthy, who will saddle General Quarters in Friday’s featured ninth race, was unsure of who will win Saturday.

“Anyone’s guess is as good as mine,” McCarthy said. “It’ll be a good race and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN INJURED, PROBABLY OUT FOR THE YEARRosemary A. Rauch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can is expected to miss most or all of the remainder of the 2011 racing season after apparently suffering an injury during his third-place run behind Noble’s Promise in last week’s $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Ian Wilkes said he’s not “100 percent” sure of the exact nature of the problem that has sent the 5-year-old gelded son of Candy Ride to the sidelines.  But Wilkes suspects that Capt. Candyman Can fractured his humerus bone in his left shoulder.  Capt. Candyman Can is due for a bone scan in a few days that should identify the exact injury.

Wilkes said the injury would knock Capt. Candyman Can out of training for “at least 90 days.”

The winner of the Grade I King’s Bishop at three, Capt. Candyman Can missed all of 2010 with a knee issue.  The Aristides was the fourth start of a 2011 campaign for Capt. Candyman Can that Wilkes had hoped would reach its climax in November in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Churchill Downs.  He won his first two starts of the year and finished a close fourth to Aikenite in the Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day prior to his run in the Aristides.

Wilkes believes the injury could have occurred at the start of the Aristides.  Capt. Candyman Can got away from the starting gate slowly after a slow loading process for the field of eight when one of its members was reluctant to enter the gate.

“It’s possible it happened at the start – he did stumble there, too,” Wilkes said.  “He didn’t finish the way he should – the way he normally does.  I have no doubt that he would have won the race if he was right.”

Capt. Candyman Can is stabled at Skylight Training Center, which is located about 30 minutes from Churchill Downs.  He is scheduled for rest on a farm after the bone scan is completed on Wilkes’ stable star.

Capt. Candyman Can has a career record of 8-2-2 in 16 races with earnings of $760,147.

STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP PROBABLES NEAR FINAL WORKS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – A pair of probable starters for the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) on June 18 at Churchill Downs will soon be putting in their final pre-race workouts at the historic track.

The Virginia H. Tarra Trust’s Clark Handicap (GI) winner Giant Oak is scheduled to tune-up for his Stephen Foster run on Sunday at Churchill Downs with a 6:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) workout for Chris Block. The 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway captured the Donn Handicap (GI) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year prior to a fifth-place finish in the Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day.

Twin Creeks Racing Stable, LLC’s Mission Impazible, who won the New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds prior to a seventh-place finish in the Alysheba (GIII), will have his final workout prior to the Stephen Foster on Sunday at Churchill Downs, according to Todd Pletcher’s assistant trainer, Mike McCarthy.  Mission Impazilbe finished tenth behind Super Saver in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

Other horses known to be under consideration for the Stephen Foster (with trainers) include Apart (Al Stall Jr.), Crown of Thorns (Richard Mandella), Duke of Mischief (David Fawkes), First Dude (Bob Baffert) and Regal Ransom (Saeed bin Suroor).

Weights for the 30th running of the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) will be released Saturday.

KATHMANBLU WILL LEAD MCPEEK DUO IN REGRET – Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ multiple graded stakes winning filly Kathmanblu will return from a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) to run in the 42nd running of the $125,000-added Regret Presented by ETIHAD Airways (GIII) at 1 1/8-miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 18.

Kathmanblu’s stablemate in the Ken McPeek barn, Catesby Clay’s Bizzy Caroline, a 3-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex who sprinted away to a seven-length victory in an allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 27, is also being pointed toward a start in the Regret.

Kathmanblu will be making her fifth start of the year in the Regret, but it will be her first on the turf since a victory in the Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park in January. McPeek’s assistant trainer, Philip Bauer, said he hopes Kathmanblu will appreciate a return to the turf and get back on the winning track.

“She’s been doing really well since the (Kentucky) Oaks and I think that turf is her best surface,” Bauer said. “On paper it looks like she will be tough to beat.”

The 3-year-old daughter of Bluegrass Cat has a record of 3-1-1 from five starts over the turf, including two stakes wins and a third behind More Than Real and Winter Memories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) at Churchill Downs last November.

Other horses under consideration to compete in the Regret (with trainers) include Bouquet Booth (Steve Margolis), Diva Ash (Dale Romans) and Excited (Todd Pletcher).

NEHRO WORKMATE PROBABLE FOR MATT WINN – George Bolton, Stonestreet Stables, LLC and Spendthrift Farm, LLC’s Dominus, who finished second behind Machen in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) in his most recent start, is being pointed towards a start in the 14th running of the $125,000-added Matt Winn on June 18 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

  Dominus, a 3-year-old ridgling by Smart Strike out of the Lord At War-ARG mare Cuando, worked in company with Belmont Stakes (GI) starter Nehro on May 30 at Churchill Downs. The stablemates completed the six furlong work together in 1:12.20, which was the fastest of four, six furlong workers that morning.

Other horses known to be under consideration for the Matt Winn and their trainers include Alstom (Wayne Lukas), Bind (Al Stall Jr.), Infrattini (Paul McGee), and Uncle Brent (Lynn Whiting).

RUNNER-UP IN AMERICAN TURF POSSIBLE FOR JEFFERSON CUP RUN - William S. Farish and Skara Glen StablesClose Ally, runner-up to Banned in the American Turf Presented by Ram (GII)  on Kentucky Oaks Day and the  Lone Star Derby (GIII) on Memorial Day, worked three furlongs in :37.60 on a fast main track at Churchill Downs on Friday morning for trainer Neil Howard.

The 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway is a possible starter for the 36th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) at 1 1/16-miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 18 Stephen Foster Day undercard.

Howard is also considering running Courtlandt FarmsPerregaux in the Jefferson Cup. The 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor finished second beaten a half-length to Ronin Dax on May 27 in a one-mile allowance over the Matt Winn Turf Course in his most recent start, which served as his 2011 debut.

"I’m considering both of them (Close Ally and Perregaux) for the Jefferson Cup,” Howard said. “Only one is likely to start; however, I’m not sure which one that will be just yet. Robby Albarado will have the mount regardless of which one runs.”

Other horses known to be under consideration for the Jefferson Cup and their trainers include Banned (Tom Proctor), Derby Kitten (Mike Maker), Redboard (Garry Simms) and Swagger Jack (Darrin Miller).

BARN TALK – Stoneway Farm’s Exfactor gave trainer Bernie Flint his fourth 2-year-old win of the meet in the fifth race at Churchill Downs on Thursday. Cathy and Bob ZollarsDaddy Nose Best was second and Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Mine That Bird, finished third.

Right Time Racing LLC’s Street Storm, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) in her most recent start, is being pointed to the Iowa Oaks (GIII) at Prairie Meadows on June 25, according to trainer Steve Margolis.

Nominations for the 111th running of the $100,000-added Debutante (GIII) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs close Saturday. The Debutante, which is scheduled to be run on the main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 25, was won last year by Eldon Farm Equine, LLC’s Just Louise under Robby Albarado for trainer Dale Romans. …

Churchill Downs will offer advance wagering all day Friday beginning at 11:20 a.m. for the 143rd running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes to be run Saturday. A unique wager offered Friday by the New York Racing Association is the Brooklyn/Belmont double that links Belmont Park's two 1 1/2-mile marathon stakes events: Friday's Grade II, $150,000 Brooklyn Handicap for older horses and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. …

Belmont Park's 13-race Belmont Stakes program will begin at 11:35 a.m. EDT, and will feature $1 million guaranteed pools for an all graded stakes Pick 6 (Races 6-11 starting at 2:34 p.m.) and Pick 4 (Races 8-11 starting at 3:59 p.m.). The 1 1/2-mile Belmont -- the third and final leg of the Triple Crown -- is scheduled as Belmont Park's Race 11 at approximately 6:36 p.m. The on-track simulcast of the Belmont will follow Race 11 and the racing will be prominently shown on television monitors throughout the facility, including the infield and paddock JumboTrons. ...

There will be a drawing ton win three Early Times prints by Marita Walizer on Saturday. Patrons may register for the drawing prior to 2 p.m. near Gate 17. Also, there will be an Early Times mascot race on the Matt Winn Turf Course following Saturday’s fourth race. …

The official drink of the Belmont Stakes, the Belmont Jewel (1.5 oz Woodford Reserve, 2 oz lemonade, 1 oz pomegranate juice), will be sold throughout the facility on Saturday.

Saturday’s Junior Jockey Club events for the kiddos include foam fun and a puppet show at 2:15 p.m.

WORKTAB – Courtlandt FarmsMachen, winner of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, also worked for Howard beneath the Twin Spires on Friday morning. The 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor completed the four furlong breeze in :51.40. …

Briland Farm’s Absinthe Minded, who finished second by a head to Awesome Maria in the Shuvee Handicap (GII) at Belmont Park in her most recent start, worked four furlongs in :48.00 Friday morning for trainer Wayne Lukas.  …

WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockeys over the last five racing days (May 30- June 9) are Corey Lanerie (8-for-29), Julien Leparoux (7-for-26) and Calvin Borel (6-for-26). Bernie Flint (3-for-5), Ian Wilkes (3-for-10), Steve Asmussen (3-for-12) and Ken McPeek (3-for-13) are the hottest trainers over the same period. The hottest owners are Stoneway Farm (3-for-3), Lothenbach Stables, Inc. (2-for-2), and Charles E. Fipke (2-for-5).

WEATHER – Friday: mostly sunny with a 20% chance of isolated thunderstorms, 93. Saturday: partly sunny with a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 90. Sunday: mostly sunny, 82. Monday: partly sunny, 83. Tuesday: mostly sunny with a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 85. Wednesday: partly sunny with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 89. Thursday: partly sunny with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 88.