SIX TO LINE UP AGAINST EINSTEIN IN FIRECRACKER – Trainer Helen Pitts’ turf star Einstein will go for his fourth grass victory of 2008 on Friday when he faces six rivals in the 19th running of the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) to be run at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The Firecracker will go as the 10th race on the 11-race holiday card. First post time is 1:15 p.m. (EDT).
Second in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on dirt to 2007 “Horse of the Year” Curlin on June 14 in his most recent start, Einstein will carry high weight of 124 pounds and concede 7-10 pounds to his Firecracker foes. Robby Albarado, who rode Einstein to victory in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs, has the call Friday and will break from post position three.
Owned by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green, Lessee, Einstein also won the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf this winter and ran second to 2007 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner Kip Deville in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland.
The main rival to Einstein appears to be Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Inca King, who is undefeated in three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Inca King posted a front-running victory in the May 31 Opening Verse Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth in his most recent start and last year won the Grade II Jefferson Cup during the Spring Meet and the Commonwealth Turf in the Fall Meet. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Inca King who breaks from post position seven under a 118-pound impost.
The field for the Firecracker, from the hedge out, is as follows: Mrs. S.K. Johnston Jr., Marco Bommarito and the Molly Malone Racing Club’s A.P. Xcellent (Larry Melancon, 116 pounds); Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song (Kent Desormeaux, 118); Einstein (Robby Albarado, 124); Terry Raymond. Jana Wagner and Gus Goldsmith’s Faith’s Magic (Brian Hernandez Jr., 116); Stud TNT’s Portuga (Calvin Borel, 115); Oxbow Racing’s Steve’s Double (Miguel Mena, 115); and, Inca King (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118).
DREAMING OF ANNA ASSIGNED TOP WEIGHT FOR LOCUST GROVE – Frank Calabrese’s champion filly Dreaming of Anna has been assigned the top weight of 124 pounds for the 27th running of the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII), to be run on closing day, July 6.
Winner of the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) on June 14, Dreaming of Anna – the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006 – is not expected to compete in the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.
Assigned the second high weight of 121 pounds by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman was Ben McElroy’s Roshani. The Todd Pletcher trainee is considered as “possible” for the Locust Grove.
Expected to be the starting high weight in the Locust Grove is Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points, who was assigned 120 pounds. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Brownie Points won the Ouija Board Handicap (GIII) in her most recent start on May 26 at Lone Star Park and arrived at Churchill Downs from the Texas track on Tuesday.
Other expected starters, with weight assignments, are Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou Lassie (119), Richard Shultz’s Lemonlime (117), Godolphin Racing’s Say You Will (115), James Barry’s Genuine Devotion (115), Peter Bradley’s Tears I Cry (115), Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl (114) and Briland Farm’s Grace Happens (112).
Three other mares are considered as “possible”: Runnymede Farm’s Meribel (118), Swettenham Stud’s Paris Winds (118) and Pegasus Horses’ Ballymore Lady (114).
BOREL SET FOR RETURN, CLOSES ON MILESTONE – Jockey Calvin Borel is expected to be back in the saddle Wednesday afternoon after taking off all mounts Sunday because of a sore knee.
“He worked five horses Sunday morning, but his knee swelled and he had it drained,” agent Jerry Hissam said of Borel, who suffered a swollen ligament in his knee after coming off a horse during training hours on June 13. “He gave it a couple days rest, but he’ll be back Wednesday.”
Borel enters Wednesday’s card with 4,492 career victories, which is 34th best all time. He is named to ride six horses Wednesday and six on Thursday. He has 43 victories this meet, good for fifth in the rider standings.
“He lost two of the eight he needs (to get to 4,500) on Sunday,” Hissam said referring to the mounts Borel took off that won on the card.
Hissam said after the meet ends on Sunday Borel will head to New York for the July 12 Man o’ War (GI) to ride Marc Keller’s Grand Couturier, whom he rode to victory in last year’s Sword Dancer Invitational (GI) at Saratoga.
NEXT WORK TO DETERMINE COURSE FOR ACOMA – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Dogwood (GIII) winner Acoma worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Monday morning for trainer David Carroll. It was her third work since winning the May 31 Dogwood.
“She worked very well,” Carroll said of the 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker. “She is going to either the Delaware Oaks or the Coaching Club American Oaks and her work next Monday will likely determine which one.”
The $500,000 Delaware Oaks (GII) is run at a mile and a sixteenth on July 12 at Delaware Park. The $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) is run at a mile and a quarter on July 19 at Belmont Park.
Also appearing on the work tab for Carroll on Monday was Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Denis of Cork, the third-place finisher to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and winner of the Southwest Stakes (GIII). In his first work since his runner-up finish in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (GI), Denis of Cork worked a half-mile in :50.
“He went very nice,” Carroll said. “He is on track for the Jim Dandy (GII on July 27 at Saratoga). He is on a Monday work schedule, weather permitting.”
BARN TALK – Eliah and Lisa Kahn are the only owners of multiple winners at the Spring Meet to be batting a thousand: Four starters; four winners. On Thursday, the streak either will end or extend to six. Trainer Ken McPeek has entered Perfect Motion for the Kahns in the sixth race, a one-mile turf allowance event, and Subscriber in the 10th, a mile and a sixteenth allowance race. Perfect Motion, who has not run since Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park, finished fourth last November in her lone start over the Matt Winn Turf Course. Subscriber has posted victories here this meet on May 24 and June 8. … Sunday’s second race produced the 15th dead heat of the meet, but the first for the win. R.J. Thoroughbred Stables’ Ready’s Rocket finished on even terms with Frank Vozel’s Canali, trained by David Vance. The victory was the first of two for Vance on Sunday. TBS Farms’ This Kat Talks won the fifth race to boost Vance’s career total to 2,999 and 296 under the Twin Spires, ninth-best all time at Churchill Downs. Vance’s first chance to become the 22nd member of the 3,000-win club is slated to come Thursday when Doubleband goes to the post in the second race for TBS Farms. … Steve Asmussen, who saddled two winners on Sunday, now has 298 career victories at Churchill Downs. His career total of 4,252 ranks eighth all time and last week he passed Hall of Famer Ron McAnally for sixth all time in earnings at $120,343,848 through June 30. McAnally’s horses have earned $120,123,495. … Another trainer approaching a milestone is Hall of Famer and four-time Kentucky Derby-winner D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas, who has saddled eight winners this meet, has 4,496 for his career through June 30, sixth best all time. The leading trainer all time in money won ($250,703,543), Lukas has two horses entered at Churchill Downs on Wednesday and four on Thursday.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Ronald Kirk, John Bates and Michael Riordan’s Run Away and Hide, winner of the May 1 Kentucky Stakes (GIII), worked five furlongs in 1:04.60 over a “fast” track for trainer Ronny Werner on Wednesday. … On Tuesday, Maggi Moss’ Indian Chant tuned up for his engagement in the July 12 Smile Sprint Handicap (GII) at Calder by working a bullet half-mile in :47.40 over a “fast” track for trainer Tom Amoss. … Other Tuesday works of note on the main track were W.S. Farish, Edward Hudson Jr. and Inwood Stable’s Grasshopper, winner of the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) and fourth in the recent Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), a half-mile in :50.40; Uptown Racing’s Boss Lafitte, winner of Keeneland’s Transylvania Stakes (GIII), a half-mile in :50; and, Briland Farm’s Grace Happens, working toward Sunday’s Locust Grove, a half-mile in :50.40. … In his first work since a runner-up finish in the June 14 Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII), B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie worked a half-mile in :52.40 over a “fast” track on Monday. ... (Turf: FIRM, dogs up) – Heading the roster of Tuesday turf works were several horses that were prepping for closing weekend stakes appearances on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Zayat Stables’ River City Handicap (GIII) winner Thorn Song breezed a half-mile in :50.60 in advance of his run in Friday’s Firecracker. … Peter Bradley’s Locust Grove contender Tears I Cry breezed a half-mile in :51.20. … Jacks or Better Farm’s Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) winner Bayou’s Lassie breezed a half-mile in :52 for the Locust Grove. … Runnymede Farm’s Locust Grove contender Meribel worked five-eighths in 1:01.40.
Robby Albarado 248 64-36-31
Miguel Mena 321 57-47-46
Julien Leparoux 284 51-54-49
Jamie Theriot 254 46-35-34
Calvin Borel 265 43-39-38
Shaun Bridgmohan 198 41-36-25
Jesus Castanon 236 26-25-28
Corey Lanerie 205 18-26-26
Brian Hernandez Jr. 184 15-29-19
John McKee 142 12-21-20
Tom Amoss 75 30-13-12
Steve Asmussen 128 29-22-18
Ken McPeek 70 26-12-6
Mike Maker 61 17-13-9
Dale Romans 132 15-27-23
Ian Wilkes 48 14-12-7
Eddie Kenneally 61 12-10-10
Cody Autrey 54 9-9-11
Greg Foley 61 9-9-8
Todd Pletcher 47 9-5-7
Bret Calhoun 24 9-2-4
Six (6) trainers tied at eight (8) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 61 17-10-13
Maggi Moss 28 12-6-4
Zayat Stables, LLC 50 8-12-11
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 36 7-7-7
Heflin & Driver Racing 28 5-5-6
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 17 5-1-0
Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins