TEN DOWN, HOW MANY TO GO FOR RAVING ROCKET? – A $5,000 starter-allowance race would not attract a great deal of attention on a normal racing day, but the opener on Thursday’s card at Churchill Downs offers a particular slice of intrigue in the presence of Raving Rocket.
Owned by Louis O’Brien and based at Fairmount Park, the 6-year-old son of Lil’s Lad has won 10 consecutive races, all starter-allowance contests.
“We are headed over there tonight,” trainer Ralph Martinez said Wednesday morning.
Robby Albarado will have the mount in the six-furlong main track event as Raving Rocket goes for his 11th straight win at a seventh track.
“The streak is nice, but I know he can’t win every time,” Martinez said. “He is a big horse, and he runs hard every time.”
Martinez claimed Raving Rocket for $4,000 at Hawthorne in March 2007. He won his first start for Martinez at Indiana Downs, and then ran fourth on the turf before starting the streak.
“The race he lost, he hopped at the start,” Martinez said. “He closed a lot of ground and just got beat a half-length. It was a shame he lost that day.”
The streak began at Fairmount Park, was extended to three at Ellis Park and reached nine at the end of 2007 with four victories at Hoosier Park, one at Beulah and one at Turfway.
“I told the owner that he was eligible for all starter races in 2008 and we had to ship to run everywhere because nobody wanted to run against him,” Martinez said. “We have to look for our spots and fortunately the race at Churchill filled, so we are coming.”
Raving Rocket opened his 2008 campaign with his 10th straight win on April 28 at Indiana Downs. In that race, as in all others in the streak, Raving Rocket was the favorite.
“He’s a good horse and he’s got a great personality,” Martinez said. “He acts like he wants to bite you, but if he was a human, he’d probably give you a hug and say ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
STALL HOPES MY PAL CHARLIE ANSWERS QUESTIONS IN NORTHERN DANCER – A lack of graded stakes earnings precluded trainer Al Stall Jr. from testing B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie in last month’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
On Saturday, Stall should get the chance to see how his colt stacks up in the 3-year-old division when he faces three colts who chased Big Brown on the first Saturday in May in the $175,000-added Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII) at a mile and a sixteenth.
“The questions for him are we are not sure how far he wants to run and what kind of horses he has been running against,” Stall said. “He is doing fine and he has always trained well here.”
My Pal Charlie has raced only once at Churchill Downs, a seventh-place finish in the mud in his debut last November.
“He had just gotten out of quarantine a few days before and he ran right out of the barn,” said Stall, referring to a case of Equine Herpes Virus that was in trainer David Carroll’s portion of Barn 47.
My Pal Charlie broke his maiden at Fair Grounds in his 2008 debut and, after an allowance win, ran second to Pyro in the Louisiana Derby (GII). A fifth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (GII) did not yield enough earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field and sent My Pal Charlie to the May 10 Lone Star Derby (GIII) where he ran fifth.
“He has been doing great since that race and working well,” Stall said. “They said he worked (five-eighths) Sunday in 1:04, but I can’t believe that because Jamie (jockey Jamie Theriot) worked him and he called me and said he worked great.”
HYSTERICALADY RETURNS TO SCENE OF GRADE I WIN – When Galen May shows up on the backside at Churchill Downs, it can only mean one thing: Jerry Hollendorfer’s in town with a horse that can run.
May showed up in the spring of 2006 with Trickey Trevor who went on to win the Churchill Downs Handicap (GII). Last spring, he preceded Hollendorfer to town with Hystericalady who upset Pussycat Doll in the Grade I Humana Distaff.
On Tuesday, May brought Hystericalady back to town for the spring time this spring, this time for a run in Saturday’s Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII). Last month she finished third in her repeat bid in the Humana Distaff.
“She has put on weight since she ran here and looks good,” May said. “And we know she likes this track.”
Owned by Rancho San Miguel, George Todaro and Holendorfer, Hystericalady completed her Fleur de Lis preparations on Saturday with a five-furlong in 1:00.40 on the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate. It was her fifth work since the narrow loss in the Humana Distaff with the final four being on Tapeta.
SUPER SATURDAY QUICK HITS – Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the all-time leading trainer in victories and stakes victories, will have only one representative on Saturday’s card that features six stakes. He will send out Zayat Stables’ Zee Zee, winner of last month’s Edgewood Stakes, in the Regret. Mott has saddled the Regret winner a record three times, the most recent being Maria Balastiere in 1991. …Ronnie Lamarque and Louie Roussel III’s Recapturetheglory, fifth in last month’s Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to arrive Thursday from Arlington Park for an expected start in the Northern Dancer. … Retired Hall of Fame rider Pat Day, Churchill Downs’ all-time leader in wins and stakes victories, was on the backside Wednesday morning to visit with brother-in-law Ray Sibille, who arrived in Louisville on Monday night from Louisiana Downs to saddle Kathleens Reel in the Fleur de Lis. …Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro, winner of the Louisiana Derby, was scheduled to school in the Churchill Downs paddock during Wednesday’s third race in preparation for Saturday’s Northern Dancer Stakes. The Steve Asmussen trainee finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby. Asmussen is scheduled to school reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin in the paddock during the fifth race on Thursday in preparation for his run in Saturday’s $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
BARN TALK – Trainer James Baker said owner Tom Walters has received an invitation for Elite Squadron to run in the July 5 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park. “Nothing is etched in stone, but we are leaning that way,” Baker said. “It is seven-eighths, on Polytrack, a Grade I and (John) Velazquez is going to be there that day.” Velazquez rode Elite Squadron to victory in the May 3 Churchill Downs Handicap (GII). … The ownership duo of Eliah and Lisa Kahn is batting a perfect thousand at 4-for-4 after Subscriber won Sunday’s fourth race. It was Subscriber’s second win of the meet to go with a score on May 24. The Kahns also own Highest Degree, who has won on May 14 and June 6. Both are trained by Ken McPeek.).
WORK TAB – Uptown Racing’s Boss Lafitte, a two-time stakes winner this spring, worked a half-mile in :49.20 over a “fast” track for trainer Tom Amoss. The time was the 14th best of 52 at the distance.
Robby Albarado 156 41-19-22
Miguel Mena 211 38-27-27
Julien Leparoux 201 37-36-37
Calvin Borel 206 30-32-32
Shaun Bridgmohan 139 26-27-18
Brian Hernandez Jr. 111 10-19-13
Jamie Theriot 149 25-22-10
Jesus Castanon 169 21-14-18
Elvis Trujillo 61 10-9-17
Corey Lanerie 127 9-18-14
Larry Sterling Jr. 68 9-8-9
Ken McPeek 48 21-7-4
Tom Amoss 49 21-6-8
Steve Asmussen 76 16-14-12
Mike Maker 37 11-6-4
Dale Romans 87 10-18-16
Ian Wilkes 33 10-6-5
Eddie Kenneally 39 8-8-7
Cody Autrey 42 7-8-7
Steve Margolis 33 7-6-6
Wesley Ward 25 7-5-5
Nick Zito 19 7-5-1
Four (4) trainers tied with six (6) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 37 12-5-6
Maggi Moss 19 10-2-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 33 7-6-7
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 28 6-7-3
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 11 5-1-0
Padua Stables 7 4-1-0
Eliah and Lisa Kahn 4 4-0-0
Seven (7) owners tied with three (3) wins