Matthew Garretson’s Einstein (BRZ), a versatile major stakes winner on grass, dirt and synthetic surfaces, will attempt to become the first repeat winner of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I) on Saturday in one of the main appetizers on the Kentucky Derby 135 card at Churchill Downs.
The $2,202,200 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) is the centerpiece of the day that features five other graded stakes, two of them Grade I events, and the Eight Belles, a race for 3-year-old fillies that now honors the ill-fated filly that ran second to Big Brown in last year’s Kentucky Derby. First post time for the 13-race card is 10:30 a.m. with the Kentucky Derby post time set for 6:24 p.m. (all times EDT).
Trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi, the 7-year-old Einstein won four of nine starts in 2008 including the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf and the Grade II Clark Handicap on the dirt at Churchill Downs. He also ran second last year on dirt to two-time “Horse of the Year” Curlin in Churchill Downs’ $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI). Einstein recently added a Grade I victory on Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface by taking the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, known to fans as the “Big Cap,” on March 7.
Julien Leparoux, who has been aboard for Einstein’s past three starts, has the mount Friday and will break from post position six in the field of 10. Einstein will carry 119 pounds.
Carrying top weight of 124 pounds in the Woodford Reserve is IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision, who ran 13th in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Bill Mott, Court Vision will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez and break from post position four. Since moving to the turf, Court Vision has won two of five starts with victories coming in the Grade I Hollywood Derby and Grade II Jamaica.
The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic will go as the day’s 10th race.
The field for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, from the hedge out, is as follows: Artiste Royal (IRE) (Alan Garcia, 119 pounds), El Caballo (Robby Albarado, 117), Proudinsky (GER) (Victor Espinoza, 121), Court Vision (Ramon Dominguez, 124), Yate’s Black Cat (Miguel Mena, 117), Einstein (BRZ) (Julien Leparoux, 119), Furthest Land (Edgar Prado, 117), Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez, 119), Zambesi Sun (GB) (Garrett Gomez, 119) and Thorn Song (Kent Desormeaux, 119).
The first Grade I race of the day is the 23rd running of the $300,000-added Humana Distaff for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going seven furlongs on the main track. The Humana Distaff is the ninth race on the card.
Augustin Stable’s Informed Decision, winner of Keeneland’s Vinery Madison (Grade I) in her most recent start on April 9, will carry 124 pounds and concede from 2-6 pounds to her eight rivals. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Informed Decision will break from post position three under Julien Leparoux.
A trio of Grade II winners in 2009 will carry 122 pounds: Inside Information heroine Game Face, Barbara Fritchie victor Royale Michele and Distaff Handicap winner Secret Gypsy.
The field for the Humana Distaff, from the rail out, is as follows: Tiz to Dream (Calvin Borel, 118 pounds), Dubai Majesty (Kent Desormeaux, 118), Informed Decision (Julien Leparoux, 124), Bear Now (Jamie Theriot, 118), Secret Gypsy (Robby Albarado, 122), Temple Street (Jon Court, 118), Royale Michele (Rafael Bejarano, 122), Modification (Corey Nakatani, 118) and Game Face (Garrett Gomez, 122).
The 7 1/2-furlong Eight Belles, formerly known as the La Troienne, honors the Larry Jones-trained filly who beat 18 other colts in Kentucky Derby 134. The race will be the seventh on the card.
Jones has two fillies entered in the Eight Belles, including Just Jenda, who is owned by his wife Cindy. A three-time stakes winner, Just Jenda will break from the rail under Gabriel Saez who was aboard for the filly’s victory in the Grade III Honeybee. Jones’ other starter is Warrior Maid, who will break from post position five under John Velazquez.
The top weight for the Eight Belles is Laragh, who will carry 122 pounds and spot 2-6 pounds to her eight rivals. Trained by John Terranova, Laragh closed out 2008 with a victory in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet and she finished third to champion Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall at Santa Anita.
The field for the Eight Belles, from the rail out, is as follows: Just Jenda (Gabriel Saez, 120 pounds), She’s Extreme (Julien Leparoux, 116), C.S. Silk (Rafael Bejarano, 120), Four Gifts (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120), Warrior Maid (John Velazquez, 120), Dave’s Revenge (Mike Smith, 116), Loveyou Everybody (Miguel Mena, 116), Lady’s Laughter (Kent Desormeaux, 116), Laragh (Edgar Prado, 122) and Auspicious (Robby Albarado, 116).
The first graded stakes race of the day is the 75th running of the $250,000-added Churchill Downs (Grade II), which goes as race six.
Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Grade I Carter Handicap in his most recent start on April 4, will carry top weight of 124 pounds and concede 2-6 pounds to his eight rivals in the seven furlong sprint. Gabriel Saez has the mount on Kodiak Kowboy and break from post position three.
The field for the Churchill Downs, from the rail out, is as follows: My Pal Charlie (Garrett Gomez, 122 pounds), The Roundhouse (Edgar Prado, 118), Kodiak Kowboy (Gabriel Saez, 124), Ide Like a Double (Robby Albarado, 118), Spotsgone (Joe Johnson, 118), Accredit (Julien Leparoux, 118), Hewitts (Joe Talamo, 118), Silver Edition (Miguel Mena, 118) and Sok Sok (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118).
Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Dawn After Dawn, fourth to Rags To Riches in the 2007 Kentucky Oaks, returns to the turf in 24th running of the $200,000-added Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade II) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. Rene Douglas will ride Dawn After Dawn and break from post position 11.
The field for the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, from the hedge out, is as follows: Lemon Chiffon (Mike Smith, 118 pounds), Visit (GB) (Garrett Gomez, 118), Tizaqueena (Jamie Theriot, 118), Rasierra (John Velazquez, 118), Zee Zee (Kent Desormeaux, 118), Sugar Mint (IRE) (Rafael Bejarano, 118), Ballymore Lady (Julien Leparoux, 118), Stealin’ Kisses (Robby Albarado, 118), Elusive Lady (Eibar Coa, 118), Rustic Flame (IRE) (Corey Lanerie, 118) and Dawn After Dawn (Rene Douglas, 118).