FAREWELL CELEBRATION FOR MINE THAT BIRD SET FOR SUNDAY, NOV. 28 – Churchill Downs fans will have an opportunity to bid farewell for the longshot winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Sunday, Nov. 28, when Mine That Bird makes a final appearance on the site of one of the biggest upsets in American racing history.
Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird will make a paddock appearance and parade before the fans on the closing day of the 21-day Fall Meet. The schedule for salute has yet to be finalized, but the event will highlight the unusual Sunday finale for the fall racing session at Churchill Downs, which has concluded on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in recent years.
The team that sent Mine That Bird, to victory at odds of 50-1 Kentucky Derby 135 – the second-biggest upset in the history of America’s greatest race – is scheduled to be on hand to honor their Derby winner. Double Eagle’s Mark Allen, Buena Suerte Equine’s Dr. Leonard Blach and trainer Chip Woolley will travel from New Mexico to take part in the festivities. Also expected to participate is jockey Calvin Borel, who scored the second of his three Kentucky Derby victories aboard the gelded son of Birdstone.
Mine That Bird was retired from racing following a 10th-place finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. It was the ninth consecutive loss for Mine That Bird, a string that included a runner-up finish to eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness (GI) and a third-place run behind eventual 3-year-old champion Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes (GI).
The 2009 Kentucky Derby winner is scheduled to return to New Mexico following the closing day-farewell at Churchill Downs.
Mine That Bird remains at Churchill Downs in the care of D. Wayne Lukas, the Hall of Fame trainer who conditioned him during a disappointing 4-year-old season in which he failed to finish better than fifth in four races.
He completed his racing career with a record of 5-2-2 in 18 races with earnings of $2,228,637.
BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE WINNER DAKOTA PHONE DRAWS TOP WEIGHT FOR CLARK HANDICAP – John Carver, Halo Farms, George Todaro and Jerry Hollendorfer’s Dakota Phone, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) here on Nov. 6, has been assigned the high weight of 124 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 136th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 26.
Dakota Phone is not expected to make the trip back to Kentucky from California for the Clark, a 1 1/8th-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on the main track. The 2009 Clark was won by Blame, who returned this year to win the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
Sharing the next high weight of 121 pounds is Godolphin Racing’s Etched and Morton Fink’s Successful Dan, the latter of which is expected to be among the horses entered Tuesday for the Clark.
Trained by Charles Lopresti, Successful Dan is two-for-two at Churchill Downs and has won five of seven career starts. In his most recent outing, Successful Dan was a three-length winner of the Fayette (GII) at Keeneland on Oct. 30.
Weight assignments for other horses considered as possible Clark starters include Apart (118), Redding Colliery (117), Brass Hat (116), Demarcation (116), Duke of Mischief (116), Stately Victor (116), Win Willy (116) and Giant Oak (115).
SUNNY MOON ASSIGNED HIGH WEIGHT FOR FALLS CITY – Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely III’s Funny Moon, winner of the Shuvee (GII) this spring and the 2009 Coaching Club of America Oaks (GI), has been assigned the top weight of 121 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 95th running of the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares.
The Falls City, won last year by Serenading, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day and is run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Trained by Christophe Clement, Funny Moon ran second in her most recent start, the Turnback The Alarm Handicap (GIII) at Belmont Park. In her lone trip to Kentucky in her 13-race career, Funny oon ran fifth in last month’s Spinster (GI) at Keeneland.
Distinctive Dixie, winner of the Nov. 6 Chilukki (GII) here, is the next high weight at 120 pounds. Trained by Wally Dollase, Distinctive Dixie ran second to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in this June’s Fleur De Lis (GII) and has a 6-3-1-0 record at Churchill Downs.
Other horses considered as possible to run in the Falls City and their weight assignments are Third Dawn (118), Striking Dancer (117), Acronym (116) and Ravi’s Song (114). Entries for the Falls City will be taken Sunday.
SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN FOLLOWS WELL IN KEERTANA’S FOOTSTEPS – The past two years, the Barbara Hunter owned and bred fillies Keertana and Snow Top Mountain have done their mother, Motokiks, proud.
On Saturday, Snow Top Mountain will try to bring more glory to the family when she runs in the 20th edition of the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The fillies are the sixth and seventh foals of the 15-year-old Motokiks and the first stakes winners the mare has produced.
Keertana, a 4-year-old daughter of Johar, raised the local bar high here two weeks ago when she finished third, beaten two necks, in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI). Keertana’s Churchill Downs record is 3-2-2 in eight races, including a victory in the 2009 Regret (GIII) and a runner-up finish in last year’s Mrs. Revere.
Snow Top Mountain, a daughter of Najran who is 1-1-0 in two outings over the Matt Winn Turf Course, ran second in this year’s Regret. Snow Top Mountain also finished second in the Grade I Garden City at Belmont Park, a race Keertana ran third in last year.
“She is just a little thing and is really an overachiever,” trainer Tom Proctor said of Snow Top Mountain. “She probably should have won a stakes by now.”
Snow Top Mountain was awarded the victory via disqualification in the Arlington Park Oaks (GIII) and also had runner-up finishes in two ungraded stakes at Saratoga. In her most recent start, she ran fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI) at Keeneland.
“She is looking for more ground,” Proctor said. “I wish this race was a mile and an eighth or a mile and three-eighths. Her sister loves that.”
Garrett Gomez has been named to ride on Saturday, but the jockey may not be able to ride after suffering a bruised right shoulder in a spill during the first week of the meet. If Gomez cannot ride, Proctor said Rosemary Homeister Jr. will get the mount on Snow Top Mountain, who will break from post position seven.
“She’s ridden for me before and won a $100,000 and a $250 (thousand) for me,” Proctor said.
Proctor, who has won seven stakes at Churchill Downs, will have a second runner in the Mrs. Revere in the Rosemont Stud Syndicate’s Wild Mia. A winner of her past two starts by a combined nine lengths, Wild Mia will break from post position two under Freddie Lenclud.
BARN TALK – It has been two weeks since trainer Michelle Nihei saw $90,000 slip away from Prince Will I Am’s bank account following a disqualification for interference from second to 10th place in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (GIII). “I feel a little bit like the straight A student that gets an F on their transcript for taking the wrong test,” Nihei said. “He is doing great. He came out of the race well and the most logical spot for him next is the McKnight.” That would be the W.L. McKnight Handicap (GII) at Calder on Dec. 18 at 1 ½ miles on the turf. …
Apprentice Amanda Tamburello’s first victory of the meet lit up the tote board with the largest win payoff of the meet. Tamburello rode 57-1 shot G Areyoukidding to victory in the seventh race for a $117.40 payoff for $2, surpassing the $94.00 that Shared Account returned to her backers in winning the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 5. The $40.40 payoff to place also was the highest of the meet, topping the $39.40 mutuel by Mis Pardner Rules in the first race on Nov. 4. …
Tommy Turner’s victory in Thursday’s third race on Bell Got Even, was his second all time at Churchill Downs. The initial score came in 1993 in the Stephen Foster Handicap aboard Root Boy. Turner is a 44-year-old native of Indiana.
WORK TAB – Two Clark Handicap hopefuls and five nominees to next Thursday’s Falls City Handicap topped a busy work tab Friday morning at Churchill Downs. Fred Bradley’s Brass Hat, who ran second in the 2007 Clark, worked five furlongs under Calvin Borel in 1:02 over a track labeled as fast after the renovation break for the 11th fastest of 37 at the distance. Moments later, the Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation, who finished eighth behind Blame in last year’s Clark, covered the same distance in 1:03.40. …
Juddmonte Farms’ Acronym was the only Falls City nominee to work before the break when the track was labeled as good. Acronym worked five furlongs in 1:02, 11th best of 37. The bullet for the distance was provided by Dundalk 5, LLC’s Dundalk Dust, who covered the distance in 1:00.
Other Falls City workers were Stevestan Stables’ Striking Dancer (1:00.80 for five furlongs, third fastest), the Bob and Beverly Lewis Trust’s Distinctive Dixie (1:02.40 for five furlongs, 14th fastest) and Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s Ravi’s Song (:49.60 for four furlongs, 17th fastest of 33 at the distance).
Returning to the work tab for the first time since running in the Breeders’ Cup were two Steve Margolis trainees who breezed after the break. Due Date, who finished sixth in the Turf Sprint (GII), worked a half-mile in :48.60 (sixth best of 33) and Cash Refund, who finished eighth in the Sentient Jet Sprint (GI), covered the same distance in :49.40 (14th best of 33).