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Perseverance Pays Off For Veteran Troilo; Asmussen Looks For Strong Finish in Final Stakes
PERSEVERANCE REWARDED FOR JOCKEY TROILO - Veteran rider Bill Troilo had no idea that Saturday would end up as a memorable afternoon packed with "firsts" for him at Churchill Downs.[asset|height=12|width=100]
"I was just riding out my engagements and I think I found out about the sixth race that I had picked up the mount," Troilo said of obtaining the ride on Karelian in the $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III). "It turned out to be a great day."
Troilo got the head for Green Lantern Stable's 6-year-old gelding up on the wire to earn a dead-heat victory with Demarcation in the River City. It was Troilo's 258th career victory at Churchill Downs, but more important his first career graded-stakes win and first stakes win under the Twin Spires.
"It was a great feeling," Troilo said of the milestone win. "You just never know what the next day will bring."
A 47-year-old native of Philadelphia, Troilo began his riding career in 1982 and has ridden 2,455 winners in his career. The victory aboard Karelian was even more special for Troilo because it came for trainer Rusty Arnold, who he began working with before his started his career.
"I was 21 at the time and the exercise rider for Wavering Monarch. He ran third in the Blue Grass behind Linkage and Gato Del Sol," Troilo said. "He fell with me in New York one morning right before I started riding."
Jack Bohannan, Arnold's assistant at Churchill Downs, reported Karelian was doing well Sunday morning.
"This horse has overcome a lot of injuries," said Bohannan, who did not think Karelian had won. "We were watching it in the grandstand on the second floor and I thought he got beat."
Bohannan said Karelian would head to Florida for the winter. Demarcation, on the other hand, is headed to the Fair Grounds according to trainer Paul McGee.
"He is doing good this morning and he will go to New Orleans," McGee said. "They have a lot of opportunities on the grass down there."
McGee thought Demarcation had won outright.
"In grass races here, the outside horse generally has the edge in a photo and I thought he had won it," McGee said. "Then they showed the replay in slow motion on the big screen in the infield and then I wasn't so sure. I'll take the dead heat."
McGee also brought a check in the Bet On Sunshine overnight handicap when Success Success rallied for third behind Native Ruler.
"He ran pretty huge," McGee said of Success Success, who also will go to the Fair Grounds. "He comes with that late run all the time. He is a hard-trying little horse."
ASMUSSEN CAN BUILD ON RECORD ON CLOSING WEEKEND - With a record-tying 555 North American victories in hand, trainer Steve Asmussen had 11 chances at five venues Sunday to break the mark he established in 2004.
Asmussen has two horses entered at Churchill Downs on Sunday: Hawaii Calls in the fourth and Mister Fusaichi in the seventh. On Wednesday, Asmussen will be represented by one starter: Coach Gravy in the sixth.
Asmussen will be represented in the four graded stakes to be run at Churchill Downs over the Thanksgiving weekend and he is optimistic about the roster he will send out.
"I think that we are in very good shape," Asmussen said. "We've got Magna Graduate for the Clark, we've got Copper State running (in the Falls City) and the two-year-olds, we've got War Echo (for the Golden Rod) and Star of David and Zion (for the Kentucky Jockey Club). So, I like our chances."
Asmussen won the 2005 Kentucky Jockey Club with Private Vow. He will be seeking his first victory in the Falls City, Clark and Golden Rod.
ROSAS RELISHED THE RIDE ON CURLIN - For 22 months, Carlos Rosas has been on the ride of his life. During that span, Rosas has been the regular exercise rider for Curlin.
The morning rides will come to an end soon as Curlin heads off to Lane's End Farm to begin a stallion career in 2009.
"It has been a great feeling to be on him every morning," said Rosas, who first got on Curlin when he came into trainer Steve Asmussen's barn in February 2007.
Rosas, who has been with Asmussen for six years, served as Curlin's morning pilot through the 2007 campaign that culminated in Horse of the Year honors after winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (GI) at Monmouth Park and this year that was highlighted by a victory in the Dubai World Cup (GI) and the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
So, Carlos, after all the travels with Curlin, what will you remember most many years down the road to tell the grandkids about?
"It would be probably be Dubai," Rosas said with a widening smile. "I got there once and he took me there."
BARN TALK - Training hours will end at 8 a.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday because of the early 11:30 a.m. post times. There will be no training on the turf on Thursday. ... Dennis "Peaches" Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun, said that Marilyn and James Helzer's Euroears was none the worse for wear after a fifth-place finish in Saturday's Bet On Sunshine overnight handicap. "He is doing OK this morning," Geier said after Euroears suffered the first defeat in his seven-race career. "He will be going to the Fair Grounds." ... With five racing days to go in the meet, jockey Julien Leparoux needs to ride nine winners to break Pat Day's 23-year-old Fall record. Leparoux rode three winners Saturday to lift his total to 47 through 21 racing days. Day accumulated his 55 winners over a 30-day meet.
WORK TAB - Midnight Cry Stable's Einstein, nominated to Friday's Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII), worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 with trainer Helen Pitts up. "He went well," Pitts said as she gave a big thumb's up on the work shortly after the track opened. ... Frank Calabrese's Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Sugar Mom worked five furlongs in 1:04.20 after the renovation break for trainer Wayne Catalano. ... Overbrook Farm's Big Surf, a Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) nominee, worked a half-mile in :51.40 for trainer Todd Pletcher.