Mr and Mrs William Warren’s Denis of Cork, a late-running third behind unbeaten Big Brown in the 134th running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), is scheduled to complete his serious preparation for Saturday’s rematch with the Derby winner in the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI) with a work at Churchill Downs on Monday.
Trainer David Carroll said the 3-year-old son Harlan’s Holiday would work four furlongs just after the break for track renovation, which means Denis of Cork will hit the track around 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) on Monday. Jockey Robby Albarado, who was aboard Denis of Cork for a victory in the Southwest Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn Park and will ride the colt again in the Belmont, will be aboard for the work.
“It’s nothing major, just a final stretch of the legs, so to speak,” said Carroll. “I’ve been very happy with him. The weather’s been good, the track’s been good and he seems to be on course.”
Denis of Cork launched his career with three consecutive victories and capped that string with his win in the Southwest. His only misstep came in a fifth-place finish behind Recapturetheglory in the Illinois Derby (GII) at Hawthorne. He rebounded from that disappointing run with his stretch-running third-place finish under jockey Calvin Borel in the Kentucky Derby and has turned in five-furlong works over the Churchill Downs strip since getting a few days of rest following the 1 ¼-mile Derby.
Carroll’s horse will travel by plane to New York on Tuesday. Also heading from Churchill Downs to Belmont Park for the third jewel of the Triple Crown that day will be West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again, who ran second to Big Brown in the Preakness (GI) and won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 26.
The Dallas Stewart-trained Macho Again turned in his final pre-Belmont work on Friday. He walked in Stewart’s shedrow on Saturday and jogged this morning.
ARISTIDES VICTORY LIFTS SIZZLING AMOSS INTO TIE FOR ‘LEADING TRAINER’ HONORS – Saturday’s narrow victory by Maggi Moss’s Indian Chant in the $125,000-added Aristides Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs lifted sizzling trainer Tom Amoss into a tie for the top spot in the race for “leading trainer” as the 52-day Spring Meet reached its midpoint.
Indian Chant held on to edge the onrushing Noonmark to score his biggest career victory and give Amoss his 17th win of the meet, which tied him with Ken McPeek for the lead in the competition for the meet’s top trainer. Those 17 victories have come with 43 starts, and Amoss has also saddled six horses that finished second and another half-dozen that have come in third. Those numbers reflect a winning percentage of 40 percent and 67 percent of his starters have finished in the top three.
McPeek’s 17 winners have come from 38 starters – a winning percentage of 45 percent, which is second in the meet only to Robert O’Connor among trainers that have saddled 10 or more starters. O’Connor has won half of his 10 starts.
Steve Asmussen, who won Saturday’s $100,000-added Opening Verse with Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Inca King, sits right behind the top duo with 16 wins. The length of Indian Chant’s head is all that kept Asmussen out of the tie for the top spot with McPeek, as he saddled Noonmark for his runner-up finish in the Aristides.
Amoss is now looking toward the summer and fall with Indian Chant after the California-bred son of Suggest notched his first graded stakes victory. Indian Chant is not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, but Amoss and Moss are eyeing many other sprint options for this 5-year-old star.
“He came out of the race great,” he said. “Maggi is very involved and knowledgeable, and the decision on his next race will come after a thorough look at the options.”
The victory was the ninth in 23 races for Indian Chant, and his second in five races in 2008. He has now earned $471,648.
CARROLL LOOKS TO FUTURE FOR STREAKING ACOMA AFTER DOGWOOD WIN – It’s always thrilling for trainer David Carroll to win a stakes race at Churchill Downs, but Saturday’s victory in the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ homebred filly Acoma was special on many levels.
The victory marked the stakes debut for the regally-bred daughter of Empire Maker, who rallied off a slow pace to win the one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies by half-length over Mary and Gary West’s favored Keep the Peace. Jockey Robby Albarado was in the irons as Acoma covered the mile over “fast” footing in 1:34.56.
Along with being successful in her stakes debut, the graded stakes victory was the third win in a row for Acoma and all have come over different surfaces: Polytrack at Keeneland, a “sloppy” main track at Churchill Downs and Saturday’s “fast” track. Acoma also turned back from a two-turn distance to the demanding one-turn mile, and she rallied from behind a modest pace to accomplish her task.
“You’re always thrilled by a performance like that – it was very exciting,” Carroll said. “It was a little unexpected, but I think she can go on to bigger and better things.”
Acoma has a pedigree that suggests that she is capable of just about anything. She’s out of the female family that traces back four generations to Courtly Dee, who was Kentucky’s “Broodmare of the Year” in 1983. Acoma’s dam, Aurora, was a stakes winner who produced Grade I winner Arch and Dubai-based champion Festival of Light. Her second dam was 1983 2-year-old filly champion Althea, who would defeat males in the Arkansas Derby at three and run 19th behind Swale in the 1984 Kentucky Derby (GI) for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Other Grade I stakes winners out of the female family include Aldiza, Balletto, Green Desert, Ali Oop, Ketoh and Japanese champion Yamanin Paradise.
“It was wonderful to win for Helen (Alexander), she’s been a great supporter of mine,” said Carroll. “It was absolutely beautiful.”
Acoma improved her career record to 3-0-1 in four races and boosted her earnings to $134,564.
BARN TALK – Stonestreet Stable and Midnight Cry Stable’s reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin is scheduled to work on Monday at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike, winner of the Dubai World Cup (GI) in his most recent race, continues to train toward a possible start in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on June 14. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s champion is scheduled to work around 6:15 a.m. Another Asmussen-trained Stephen Foster candidate is multiple Grade In winner Student Council, who breezed five furlongs over a “fast” track on Sunday in 1:02. Student Council won the Pimlico Special (GI) in his most recent start. …Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), breezed four furlongs in :49.80. Trainer Helen Pitts plans to run the Brazilian-bred star in Saturday’s Manhattan
Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – La Troienne (GIII) winner Game Face breezed four furlongs in :47, the fastest move of 53 at the distance . … Danzon breezed four furlongs in :49. … Fairbanks breezed a half-mile in :49.20. … Gotham (GIII) runner-up Texas Wildcatter breezed five furlongs in 1:01. … Pious Ashley, scratched from Saturday’s Dogwood, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Saturday, May 31
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 125 33-13-18
Julien Leparoux 174 31-31-33
Miguel Mena 167 28-22-24
Shaun Bridgmohan 115 24-22-13
Calvin Borel 172 23-26-26
Jesus Castanon 137 18-12-12
Jamie Theriot 118 17-16-9
Brian Hernandez, Jr. 94 8-15-12
Elvis Trujillo 43 8-6-13
Corey Lanerie 107 7-16-9
John McKee 77 7-12-14
Tracy Hebert 70 7-3-5
Larry Sterling, Jr. 52 6-6-7
Fernando De La Cruz 70 6-4-6
Tom Amoss 43 17-6-6
Ken McPeek 38 17-5-4
Steve Asmussen 70 16-12-11
Ian Wilkes 26 9-5-3
Mike Maker 29 8-5-3
Dale Romans 66 6-15-13
Eddie Kenneally 33 6-7-7
Greg Foley 44 6-7-6
Wesley Ward 21 6-4-4
David Carroll 18 6-3-2
Four (4) trainers tied with five (5) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 27 9-3-5
Maggi Moss 17 8-2-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 29 6-6-6
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 8 5-0-0
Two (2) owners tied with four (4) wins