Churchill Downs

Street Story A Four-Time Stakes Winner After Memorial Day Triumph In $100,000 Winning Colors

Street Story rated from the outside, grabbed the lead from 3-2 favorite Spring Included at the top of the stretch and turned back a late charge by Heykittykittykitty to win Monday’s 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) by 1 ½ lengths on Memorial Day at Churchill Downs.

Street Story, a 4-year-old filly owned by Carrol Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm, sprinted six furlongs over a sloppy main track in 1:10.39 en route to defeating nine other fillies and mares. Florent Geroux rode the winner for trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the inaugural running in 2004 with Grade I-winner Lady Tak.

“She always tries hard and today she ran very well,” Asmussen’s assistant Darren Fleming said.

Defending champ Southern Honey, the 5-2 second choice who made her first start in the mud, broke alertly and led the field through the first quarter mile in :21.90 while racing from the inside. She began to retreat, and Spring Included asserted herself around the turn after a half in :45.38, with Street Story in close pursuit from the outside.

As they straightened out at the head of the stretch, Street Story poked her head in front and gamely edged clear down the stretch. Heykittykittykitty closed well down the stretch but was unable to bridge the gap.

The victory was worth $58,900 and improved Street Story’s earnings to $339,430 with a record of 13-5-2-1.

This was her second graded stakes win and fourth stakes win overall. Last June, Street Story prevailed in the $150,000 Victory Ride (GIII) at Belmont Park after taking the $100,000 Dixie Belle and $100,000 Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park in early 2014.

Street Story returned $17.60, $7.60 and $4.60 as the 7-1 fourth betting choice. Heykittykittykitty, ridden by Didiel Osorio, paid $7 and $4.60. Spring Included, under Joe Rocco Jr., was another 1 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up and returned $2.60.

Milam, Enchanting Lisa, You Bought Her, Pistolpackinpenny, Toni’s Hollyday, Southern Honey and Boss Barney’s Babe completed the order of finish.

Street Story is a dark bay or brown 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry-IRE out of the Tale of the Cat mare Perfect Story. She was bred in Kentucky by John C. Oxley.

The Winning Colors is named in honor of Eugene Klein’s Winning Colors, the most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby when she beat the boys in the 114th running of the Run for the Roses in 1988 for the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.

After dark days on Tuesday and Wednesday, racing at Churchill Downs resumes Thursday with an eight-race twilight program that begins at 5 p.m.

WINNING COLORS QUOTES

FLORENT GEROUX, jockey of STREET STORY (winner): “We had a great trip on the outside. When I rode her at Fair Grounds she was stuck on the inside and she almost jumped the fence. She was really claustrophobic on the inside. I was pretty much sure I could win this stakes. I had to keep her on the clear as much as possible and it went great. I had a good enough post to do so and I took advantage of it. I had the 8-5 favorite next to me when I squeezed mine just before the quarter pole. I pretty much knew I had it.”

DARREN FLEMING, asst. trainer of STREET STORY (winner): “She’s been training very well here at Churchill; she had some good works. She was annihilated [in the Carousel], she had no shot. The start cost her that race. When you bring her over here she tries hard every time. I didn’t think [the off track] hurt her; she had run on it before. She won on it at Oaklawn once before.”

RON MOQUETT, trainer of HEYKITTYKITTYKITTY (runner-up): “She ran really well. I was proud of her. That was a really good group of horses and I think could probably rack ‘em up again and come out with a different result. I was very happy for the owners (Westrock Stables LLC). She ran well for them and now she’s graded stakes-placed.”

DIDIEL OSORIO, jockey on HEYKITTYKITTYKITTY (runner-up): “She ran really good. She ran hard but just couldn’t catch the winner. I thought I had a shot at the head of the stretch, but she finished well against good horses.”

STEVE HOBBY, trainer of SPRING INCLUDED (third): “She uncharacteristically kind of shut it down there at the end. That’s not like her. She tried. She still was game. But she usually digs a little harder there at the end. I was a little disappointed in her last hundred yards.”

Q: Was the wet track a concern for you? “Not really. She’s won in the slop before. In fact, she’s won at Churchill in the slop before.”

JOE ROCCO JR., jockey on SPRING INCLUDED (third): “She ran really big. She ran three really big races at Oaklawn in a row. It was no disgrace. What did she get beat – three lengths in a Grade III? It’s a long summer. I’m still proud of her.”

GEORGE “RUSTY” ARNOLD, trainer of SOUTHERN HONEY (ninth as 5-2 second choice): “It’s a long time off. The race didn’t go exactly like I thought it would. I don’t know about the surface, I’m not using it as an excuse I just don’t know. She’s out of a Carson City mare so she should like it, but doesn’t mean they’ll like it. It was probably a little fast but you know how this track gets, they’ll do that. I think they did that in an earlier race that might not have been a top race. I’m disappointed right now, but if she comes back good and my objectives are a little bit further a long, so it’s not the end of the world.”

American Pharoah Gallops In Slop; Baffert Returns To Barn On Tuesday

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah continued his training for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (GI) by galloping 1 ¼ miles over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET with Jorge Alvarez up.

“He went great,” Alvarez said. “He loves the slop.”

Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, also was pleased with how the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile galloped over the sloppy going.

“He went very nice and looked good,” Barnes said. “He likes an off track. Everything seems fine.”

American Pharoah is 2-for-2 on an off track. His two wins in the slop came in the Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and the May 16 Preakness.

Baffert is scheduled to fly into Louisville from California on Monday night to oversee his string of 12 horses that are stabled at Churchill Downs. Aside from American Pharoah, he has last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern and 2014 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Hoppertunity in training at Churchill Downs. Barnes said that Baffert would determine Tuesday morning when American Pharoah would resume breezing.

Baffert is expected to be at Barn 33 Tuesday morning and will return to California later that day.

In other Belmont Stakes news, Conquest Stables Conquest Curlinate jogged and galloped one mile with exercise rider Jorge Balbuena in the irons for trainer Mark Casse.

Christopher Dunn, Glenn K. Ellis and Ron Paolucci’s War Story galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Marvin Orantes up for trainer Tom Amoss.

Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Faustno Agular in the irons for trainer Dale Romans

American Pharoah (Barn 33), Conquest Curlinate (Barn 36), Keen Ice (Barn 4) and War Story (Barn 29) are the locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders stabled at Churchill Downs.

BELMONT STAKES POSSIBLE FIELD – The possible 11-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer): Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert); Blue Grass champ and Kentucky Derby 10th Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Peter Pan runner-up Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11th Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4th Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7th Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6th Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8th Mubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); and Louisiana Derby 3rd and Kentucky Derby 16th War Story (Colby Hernandez).

FANS INVITED TO WATCH SPECIAL 8:30-8:45 A.M. TRAINING FOR BELMONT CONTENDERS – With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack is offering a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses through Tuesday, June 2. Additionally, area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.

Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through June 2 so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate, Keen Ice and War Story prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 6.

Churchill Downs’ concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.

Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday, June 2. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse’s name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.

Despite rainfall and short notice, more than 100 fans attended Monday’s debut of the special training session.

SPECIAL BELMONT STAKES DAY BOX SEAT PACKAGE – Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

DEPARTING ON TRACK FOR SATURDAY’S OPENING VERSEClaiborne Farms and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing is on track for Saturday’s $65,000 Opening Verse overnight stakes, which will be the son of War Front’s first start on turf and his first start since a seventh-place effort in last year’s Clark Handicap.

“His last work over the turf was good so we’re still going,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said.

The 5-year-old gelding put in two solid works over the Matt Winn Turf Course, breezing five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.80 and 1:01.60, respectively on May 14 and May 21. Jockey Robby Albarado has the mount.

Other probable contenders for 1 1/16-mile event on the Matt Winn Turf Course (with trainer) include Chocolate Ride (Brad Cox), Frac Daddy (Kenny McPeek) and Hip Four Sixtynine (Shane Wilson).

GENTLEMEN’S BET MAY TRY ARISTIDES – Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides Stakes (GIII) added another possible starter to its list with Harry T. Rosenblum’s Gentlemen’s Bet, who ran fourth in the Churchill Downs (GII) last time out. Trainer Ron Moquett said he is 50-50 between the Aristides and the June 5 True North (GII) at Belmont Park. Other potential contenders for the six-furlong sprint (with trainer) include Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (GIII) winner Alsvid (Chris Hartman); Churchill Downs Stakes (GII) runner-up Nates Mineshaft (Anne Smith); 2012 Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner Pataky Kid (Stephen Dunn); second-level allowance winner Viva Majorca (Ian Wilkes) and reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) winner and American Champion Sprinter Work All Week (Roger Bruggemann).

LEPAROUX WINS FOUR ON SUNDAY – Jockey Julien Leparoux had a big day Sunday, winning four races on Churchill Downs’ 10-race card. The native of Senlis, France scored victories aboard Political Justice ($8.20), Venus de Milo ($5.40), Dreaming of Gold ($4) and Kathballu ($13.80). Leparoux now has 20 wins on the meet, trailing Corey Lanerie who has 21.

“It feels great when you win races,” Leparoux said. “I knew coming in we had a good chance. Everything went smooth yesterday. All of my horses ran really big. There’s still a long way and I have to travel quite a bit in June. What really matters is that I have had a good meet so far.”

Leparoux is named on nine mounts on Churchill’s Memorial Day card, including Ashbrook FarmsSouthern Honey, the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the featured event, the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII).

Churchill Downs Offers Special Training Period For American Pharoah, Belmont Horses; Public Invited

With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack will offer a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses starting on Monday. Additionally, area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.

Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday, June 2 so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate, Keen Ice and War Story prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 6.

Churchill Downs’ concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.

Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday, June 2. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse’s name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.

“Our switchboard has received a number of calls from avid fans looking to get a glimpse of American Pharoah and this is a great way to showcase the stars of our sport to an audience yearning for more,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “It’s always exciting to have a Kentucky Derby winner back in training at Churchill Downs, but it’s extra special to have American Pharaoh here preparing for a possible sweep of the elusive Triple Crown. A big ‘Thank You’ goes out to our local horsemen and staff for accommodating our request to host this special training period for the horses and fans.”

As a result, training hours at Churchill Downs will be 5:45-10 a.m. daily through Tuesday, June 2 – the date many of the Belmont Stakes contenders will ship to New York. The special training period over a freshly-harrowed and congestion-free track will follow the traditional 8-8:30 a.m. renovation break.

AMERICAN PHAROAH CONTINUES GALLOPS – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah galloped 1 3/16 miles on the Churchill Downs main track at approximately 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning under partly cloudy skies with regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez in the irons.

Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said that the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile continues to train well and he’s happy with the way the horse looks going into the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6.

Also on target for the Belmont Stakes is Conquest StablesConquest Curlinate, who jogged and galloped one mile under exercise rider Marco Cano for trainer Mark Casse.

Christopher Dunn, Glenn K. Ellis and Ron Paolucci’s War Story jogged one mile and galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Marvin Orantes up for trainer Tom Amoss.

Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Faustno Agular for trainer Dale Romans.

American Pharoah (Barn 33), Conquest Curlinate (Barn 36), Keen Ice (Barn 4) and War Story (Barn 29) are the locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders stabled at Churchill Downs.

The possible 11-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer): Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert); Blue Grass champ and Kentucky Derby 10th Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Peter Pan runner-up Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11th Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4th Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7th Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6th Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8th Mubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); and Louisiana Derby 3rd and Kentucky Derby 16th War Story (Colby Hernandez).

XTRA LUCK EXITS LOUISVILLE HANDICAP IN GOOD ORDERCliff and Michelle Love’s Xtra Luck, 1 ½-length victor of Saturday’s $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII), exited the 1 ½-mile turf marathon well, according to trainer Neil Howard, who collected his first graded stakes win since Machen won the 2011 Derby Trial (GIII).

“He seemed pretty good and didn’t look too knocked out,” said Howard, who says there’s a good chance the 4-year-old son of Exchange Rate could make a trip to Chicago’s Arlington Park for the $100,000 Stars & Stripes (GIII) at 1 ½ miles on turf on July 11. “Obviously with a horse like him that would be a good spot for him but I’ll talk to the Loves about it. I think that with a horse like him those marathon type races are where they can really excel. He’s good at a mile-and-an-eighth, but I think he likes to go longer.”

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s For Greater Glory, the Lou ’Cap runner-up in only his second start on turf, also exited the race in good order for trainer Steve Hobby. His other start on grass came in an allowance race last year where he ran third behind Golden Soul, the third-place finisher in Saturday’s race. The trainer said that the son of Afleet Alex had high energy after the race and was jumping and playing coming back to the barn. “He ran awesome,” Hobby said aboard his stable pony Chindi. “I don’t know where we’ll run him next yet. Yesterday was kind of a trial thing, so I don’t know where we’ll go. I don’t know if it was the distance or the turf that he liked.”

Gallant StablesMajestic Harbor was a disappointing ninth and last and was beaten 11 ½ lengths. This was the 7-year-old son of Rockport Harbor’s third time trying the turf. “He came out fine, but I don’t think he’ll ever see the grass again,” said trainer Paul McGee.

Majestic Harbor also was under consideration for the June 6 Brooklyn Handicap (GII) on the Belmont Stakes undercard, which McGee said has now been “pretty much ruled out.” “We may nominate to the Stephen Foster and see how that plays out,” McGee said.

VETERAN O’CONNOR SCORED 100TH CHURCHILL DOWNS VICTORY – Veteran local trainer Rob O’Connor scored his 100th victory at Churchill Downs on Saturday when his homebred 10-year-old Calbo ($25) won the third race, a one mile $5,000 claiming event, with jockey Francisco Torres in the irons. “If you told me when I started my career that I was going to win a hundred races at Churchill Downs, I would say that’s a good accomplishment,” O’Connor said. “I am very proud of it. I’m a hometown boy, so this means a lot to me.” O’Connor, who took out his trainer’s license in 1985, was a graduate of Louisville’s St. Xavier High School and has 434 career victories to date.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Monday’s Memorial Day feature is the 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): You Bought Her (Shaun Bridgmohan, 12-1); Pistolpackinpenny (Jon Court, 15-1); Milam (Corey Lanerie, 6-1); Heykittykittykitty (Didiel Osorio, 8-1); Boss Barney’s Babe (Miguel Mena, 20-1); Toni’s Hollyday (James Graham, 20-1); Southern Honey (Julien Leparoux, 5-2); Enchanting Lisa (Brian Hernandez, Jr., 8-1); Spring Included (Joe Rocco Jr., 3-1); and Street Story (Florent Geroux, 9-2). The Winning Colors goes as Race 10 on Memorial Day’s 11-race card at approximately 5:20 p.m. ET. First post is 12:45 p.m. … General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Monday, and there’s a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. … Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the “Call to the Post” for each race on Monday. He’s also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags. …Fans attending Churchill Downs on Monday are advised to avoid Southern Parkway and Third Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. due to road closures for the Subway Fresh Hike, Bike and Paddle. … Early possible starters for Saturday’s 27th running of the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) at six furlongs (with trainer) include Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (GIII) winner Alsvid (Chris Hartman); Churchill Downs Stakes (GII) runner-up Nates Mineshaft (Anne Smith); 2012 Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner Pataky Kid (Stephen Dunn); second-level allowance winner Viva Majorca (Ian Wilkes); and reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and American Champion Sprint Horse Work All Week (Roger Brueggemann). … Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

Xtra Luck Draws Away Late To Win 78th Louisville 'Cap at Churchill Downs

Michele and Cliff Love’s Xtra Luck grabbed the lead from pacesetter Majestic Harbor on the final turn and drew away in the stretch to beat For Greater Glory by 1 ½ lengths in Saturday’s 78th running of the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

Xtra Luck, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and trained by Neil Howard, covered 1 ½ miles over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 2:28.24.

Majestic Harbor, last year’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI) winner, led the field of nine older horses through the first 1 1/16 miles of the grass marathon through fractions of :24.62, :48.73, 1:14.23 and 1:40.34 with Xtra Luck about two lengths back. Entering the final turn, Xtra Luck angled off the rail to engage the laboring Majestic Harbor. Runner-up For Greater Glory made a bid in the stretch but could not out-kick Xtra Luck for the win.

“The race set up perfect for us,” Hernandez said. “Neil and Mr. Love did a great job of figuring this horse out. We had a great trip. We just sat behind the speed and when they came to us at the head of the lane, he went on and he finished up the job for us.”

The victory was worth $59,520 and improved Xtra Luck’s earnings to $154,644 with a record of 20-3-4-3.

The Lou ’Cap was Xtra Luck’s first stakes triumph. Previously, he was the runner-up to Innovation Economy in a second-level allowance at Keeneland over 1 ½ miles on turf four weeks earlier on April 23.

“He’s kind of a galloper,” Howard said. “I had an idea [that he was a marathon horse] when he was second going a mile-and-three-eighths in an allowance race last fall, so we figured if the opportunity ever presented itself we’d go for it and I’m glad we did it.  We’ll maybe go to Chicago with him.”

Xtra Luck, a 4-year-old gelded son of Exchange Rate out of the Kris S. mare Miu Miu, was bred in Florida by Haras Santa Maria de Araras S.A.

Xtra Luck, who carried 115 pounds, returned $11.60, $5.80 and $4 as the 9-2 third betting choice. For Greater Glory, under Joe Rocco Jr. and 117 pounds, paid $13 and $7.40. Golden Soul, the 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up ridden by Robby Albarado at 117 pounds, was another 1 ¾ lengths back in third and returned $4.60.

The 5-2 favorite Patrioticandproud was another neck back in fourth and was followed by Calvados (ARG), Layton Register, Cozy Kitten, Royal Blessing and Majestic Harbor.

LOUISVILLE HANDICAP QUOTES

NEIL HOWARD, trainer of XTRA LUCK (winner): “Obviously these horses are in a little bit of an element, the ones that want to go the marathon distances so that probably helped him a little bit. You don’t get these kinds of races that often so it was nice to get a prep in an allowance race at Keeneland to prep for this. If you look at his shorter races, he’s kind of a galloper. I know it’s easier to say it now but it probably helped him for races like this. He [Hernandez] rode him beautiful. I had an idea [that he was a marathon horse] when he was second going a mile-and-three-eighths in an allowance race last fall, so we figured if the opportunity ever presented itself we’d go for it and I’m glad we did it.  We’ll maybe go to Chicago with him.”

BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., jockey of XTRA LUCK (winner): “The race set up perfect for us. Neil [Howard] and Mr. [Cliff] Love did a great job of figuring this horse out. They gave me the patience and figured out what he really wanted to do, but today we had a great trip. We just sat behind the speed and when they came to us at the head of the lane, he went on and he finished up the job for us.”

STEVE HOBBY, trainer of FOR GREATER GLORY (second): “I was very happy. He was trying a new surface and a new distance and everything, so I thought he did great.”

JOE ROCCO JR., jockey on FOR GREATER GLORY (second): “He ran awesome. It worked out how we thought it would. A couple of speed horses went out and he settled off of them, and he did everything well.” 

ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on GOLDEN SOUL (third): “It was a very encouraging race for him, coming back and seeing him finish to the wire. He did that with me last year. He ran a huge race and finished something like fifth, and his next two were big. So I was expecting a big one from him today.”

Q: There wasn’t a contested pace, so it didn’t really seem to set-up for his late run … “He was squeezed a little further back than I would have liked for him to have been, but I wanted him running at the wire. I wanted him to make a nice run and not flatten out with me.”

SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey of PATRIOTICANDPROUD (fourth as 5-2 favorite): “They came at the half-mile pole and I wasn’t going to give my spot up, so I had to go on.”

PAUL McGEE, trainer of MAJESTIC HARBOR (9th as the 4-1 second choice): “He looked comfortable on the backstretch and Corey (Lanerie) said he handled the grass fine, but he just didn’t quicken in that last three-eighths or half-mile. He just doesn’t have that turf turn-of-foot that you need in in the last three-eighths of a mile turf racing. Corey said he felt good. He said that for running last he didn’t really chuck-it that bad. But I think it’s all about the grass with him, and it’s in black-and-white now.”

COREY LANERIE, jockey on MAJESTIC HARBOR (9th as the 4-1 second choice): “I had a good trip. I thought he’d be in front. I watched his races out in California and they kind of let him clip along there and he seemed to get the distance. I was going a little faster than I wanted, but I was never concerned. I thought I had a big shot at the half-mile pole, and they came by me so fast they caught both me and him off-guard. From then on they just out-footed us to the wire and that was it.”

 

Another Gallop For American Pharoah; Baffert Set For Tuesday Return

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah continued his preparation for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) by galloping 1 3/16 miles over the Churchill Downs main track under regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.

The homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile galloped under partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 65 degrees, and this was his second time galloping over the track since arriving at trainer Bob Baffert’s stable on Monday afternoon. Baffert’s chief assistant Jimmy Barnes continues to be pleased with the manner in which the horse is moving.

“These are just our easy days, so we’re basically just keeping him happy and keeping some weight on him,” Barnes said. “We don’t get serious until another week or so.”

As far as getting serious goes, Barnes is still unsure as to when the Triple Crown hopeful will resume breezing, and said that Baffert, who returns to Louisville for a one-day stopover on Tuesday, will determine when the horse will work.

“He hasn’t decided whether he will have one or two workouts,” Barnes said. “He should be letting me know soon. He’ll fly in Monday evening and will be in on Tuesday morning and I’m sure that’s when he will start deciding.”

Barnes said that the horse will likely ship to Belmont Park on Tuesday June 2.

Meanwhile, a couple of American Pharoah’s potential Belmont Stakes challengers, Keen Ice and Conquest Curlinate, jogged on the Churchill Downs main track. The connections of both contenders are happy with the way their horses are training.

“He came out of his work good and jogged this morning. Everything looks perfect.” said trainer Dale Romans said of Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice, who breezed six furlongs in 1:15 on Thursday.

Norman Casse, assistant to father Mark Casse, spoke highly of his Belmont hopeful Conquest Curlinate.

“He looked really good this morning,” Norman Casse said. “He’ll be back galloping (Sunday) morning but he looked good this morning.”

American Pharoah’s pursuit for racing immortality will mark the 14th time – and third in the last four years – since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978 that a horse has had a chance to join the 11 Triple Crown champions. According to reports, his challengers in the 1 ½-mile Belmont could include (with known jockeys) Carpe Diem, Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan), Frammento (Mike Smith), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij-IRE, Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens) and War Story (Colby Hernandez).

Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt featuring a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

SOUTHERN HONEY DEFENDS WINNING COLORS TITLE AGAINST NINE RIVALS – A field of 10 fillies and mares is set for Memorial Day’s featured event at Churchill Downs, the $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes (GIII) at six furlongs on the main track.

Headlining the sprint is Ashbrook Farm’s Southern Honey who’s most recent victory came when she won last year’s edition of this race at age 3 and will be making her first start since running sixth beaten six lengths in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita. Trainer George “Rusty” Arnold says that the homebred daughter of Colonel John is coming into the race well after having spent a relaxing winter in Ocala, Fla.

“We brought her back in March and she’s been doing very well since then,” Arnold said via telephone from his Keeneland base. “Her works have been good and we gave her some off. She’s ready to go.”

Arnold said that he chose this race for Southern Honey because the timing was just right for her. “This just seemed like the right spot,” he said. “It’s hard to find three-other-than allowances for fillies like her, and she likes this racetrack a lot.”

Southern Honey has won two of her three starts over the Churchill Downs main track. Aside from her triumph in this race last year, she won an allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs last May. Julien Leparoux has the mount on the 4-year-old filly, who was made the 5-2 morning line favorite by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Spring Included is coming into the race with two straight victories at Oaklawn Park against stakes company. The homebred daughter of Include trained by Steve Hobby triumphed in the Spring Fever and Carousel Stakes earlier this year. Like Arnold, Hobby chose this race because of the timing. “She’s coming into the race very well and the timing worked well,” Hobby said. “She’s been doing so much better since we’ve shortened her back up.”

Last year, Spring Included went 1-for-4 when running around two turns and she’ll look to add a graded stakes victory to her résumé. Her best finish against such competition was a runner-up effort in the Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland last fall behind Sparking Review. Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. will be in the irons as the 3-1 second betting choice.

Westrock Stables Heykittykittykitty is coming off of a victory in the Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic Distaff Sprint Stakes against Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares. Trainer Ron Moquett has her cross-entered in Monday’s RPDC Classic Distaff at Will Rogers Downs, but has stated that he is 60-40, leaning toward running her in the Winning Colors.

“She’s an Oklahoma bred, but I’d like to run here,” Moquett said. “It’s coming up to be a really nice stakes race so we’ll see what we do. We’ll probably put her in here and make some money.”

The 4-year-old daughter of Tactical Cat has been in the money in all but one of her 15 career starts when she ran a well-beaten fourth in the Oklahoma Classic Distaff Sprint last October at Will Rogers Downs. This will be her first start against graded stakes company. Jockey Didiel Osorio, also looking for his first graded stakes win, has the mount. She’s 8-1 on the morning line.

The Winning Colors field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): You Bought Her (Shaun Bridgmohan, 12-1); Pistolpackinpenny (Jon Court, 15-1); Milam (Corey Lanerie, 6-1); Heykittykittykitty (Didiel Osorio, 8-1); Boss Barney’s Babe (Miguel Mena, 20-1); Toni’s Hollyday (James Graham, 20-1); Southern Honey (Julien Leparoux, 5-2); Enchanting Lisa (Brian Hernandez, Jr., 8-1); Spring Included (Joe Rocco, Jr., 3-1); Street Story (Florent Geroux, 9-2).

The Winning Colors goes as Race 10 on Memorial Day’s 11-race card at approximately 5:20 p.m. ET. First post is 12:45 p.m. The race is named in honor of Eugene Klein’s Winning Colors, our most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 who beat the boys in the 114th running of the Run for the Roses for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to Bob Baffert, said Saturday morning that last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern, who ran a disappointing sixth last time out in the Churchill Downs Handicap (GII), will likely make his next start in either the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (GI) on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard or the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on June 13. … Robert E. Masterson’s Tepin, winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GI) breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 over the main track Friday morning for trainer Mark Casse, and the homebred daughter of Tapit remains on target for the Just A Game (GI) on the June 6 Belmont undercard. … Also for Casse, John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird worked a bullet five furlongs in :58.80 Friday, which Casse said was “about as good as I have ever seen a horse work.” He is possible for either the June 6 Metropolitan Handicap (GI) or Stephen Foster. The latter also is a possible spot for stablemate Sky Captain, who breezed five furlongs in :59.80 Friday. Casse said he could also surface in the June 6 Manhattan (GI) at Belmont Park. … Gunpowder Racing’s American Turf winner Divisidero worked a half-mile over the main track in :47.80 for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. … Forum Racing IV’s Birdatthewire breezed five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Dale Romans and remains on target for the $750,000 Acorn Stakes (GI) on the Belmont Stakes undercard. …. At Churchill Downs’ Trackside Training Center, Midwest Thoroughbred’s champion sprinter Work All Week breezed a half-mile in :47.40 for trainer Roger Bruggemann and is likely to return in next Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs. … General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Monday, and there’s a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. … Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the “Call to the Post” for each race on Monday. He’s also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags.

American Pharoah Gallops For First Time Since Preakness Romp

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner American Pharoah had his first gallop since his seven-length romp in last Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (GI) in preparation for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6. The homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile galloped 1 3/16 miles over the Churchill Downs main track Friday at 8:30 a.m. following the renovation break with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up.

“It went nice, didn’t seem like he was tired or anything,” said Alvarez, a native of Tijuana, Mexico. “He came back pretty much the same [after Derby]. So far, no difference.”

Alvarez says one of the biggest qualities that American Pharoah has is his ability to cover a lot of ground.

"His stride is very different from a lot of horses – that’s an advantage,” he said.

Alvarez, who has worked horses for trainer Bob Baffert for seven years, also was the exercise rider for Pioneerof the Nile, American Pharoah’s sire.

“They are both good horses,” he said of the Zayat-owned father and son, “but since Day One this horse [American Pharoah] has covered so much ground.”

Alvarez wouldn’t be disappointed if the track on Belmont Day was similar to Pimlico when the horse won the Preakness because of how well the horse has handled an off track. Aside from the Preakness, American Pharoah triumphed in the slop at Oaklawn Park when he won the March 14 Rebel (GII).

“Once it started raining I got excited a little bit because I know he likes the mud,” Alvarez said. “I thought he was ready to run a good race anyway, but the rain adds a lot, too. I hope it rains in New York.”

Baffert’s assistant, Jimmy Barnes, also was pleased with the horse’s gallop over the Churchill main track

“It went very nice,” Barnes said. “He just had a 1 3/16-mile gallop today, but it went very nice. He’s perfect – just the way he always is – so we’ll gallop a little bit further maybe tomorrow (Saturday) and then by Sunday we’ll be back to his normal gallop at a mile-and-a-half.

“The best horses cover the track well – they have a large stride and they’re big movers, which he is. Usually the good ones are like that.”

American Pharoah’s pursuit for racing immortality will mark the 14th time – and third in the last four years – since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978 that a horse has had a chance to join the 11 Triple Crown champions. According to reports, his challengers in the 1 ½-mile Belmont could include (with known jockeys) Carpe Diem, Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan), Frammento (Mike Smith), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij-IRE, Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens) and War Story (Colby Hernandez).

Churchill Downs has a new special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt featuring a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

CONQUEST CURLINATE READIES FOR BELMONT Conquest Stables LLC’s Conquest Curlinate breezed five furlongs over a fast Churchill Downs track in :59.80 on Friday morning in preparation for a showdown with American Pharoah in the June 6 Belmont Stakes on June 6.

Norman Casse, assistant to his father Mark, was pleased with the move and says the Ontario-bred son of Curlin should handle the 1 ½-mile distance. “The way he runs he doesn’t show a whole lot of early speed,” Norman Casse said. “He’s always been a much more effective route horse obviously, so we think the distance is just perfect for him. Plus, he has a race over the track which we think is going to be pretty important. He obviously liked it.”

Last time out, Conquest Curlinate was a late-closing second in the Peter Pan (GII) at Belmont Park on May 9 behind Madefromlucky, who also is targeting the Belmont.

In other Belmont news, Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice breezed six furlongs in 1:15 on Thursday. Trainer Dale Romans’ partner Tammy Fox spoke highly of how the son of Curlin is preparing for the race. “As of yesterday, he’s coming into the race really, really good,” Fox said. “The work I thought was super. He galloped out really well.”

Fox said that Keen Ice will likely work twice before shipping to Belmont Park on Tuesday, June 2. She went on to say that she is hopeful of how the horse will handle the deep and sandy track at Belmont. “I hope he will,” Fox said. “It takes a special horse to come in there and run over that racetrack but he’s a big horse and a big grinder. I think he’ll handle it just fine.”

LANERIE CHASING EIGHTH TITLE AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Monday will mark the halfway point of Churchill Downs’ 38-day Spring Meet, and jockey Corey Lanerie finds himself in a familiar position atop the local rider standings with 17 wins. Julien Leparoux and Robby Albarado are not too far behind with 15 and 13 victories, respectively.

“The meet is going good,” Lanerie said. “It’s always good to be on top. Hopefully I can stay there. It’s going to be a tough meet. It will be competitive so I just want to keep winning.”

The 40-year-old native of Lafayette, La., says that he plans on riding at Saratoga for the remainder of the summer following the Spring Meet at Churchill Downs. Lanerie is a seven-time leading rider at Churchill Downs.

DOWN THE STRETCHRobert Lutrell’s undefeated graded stakes-winning filly Promise Me Silver breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Friday morning for trainer Bret Calhoun. This was the Texas-bred’s second work since her victory in the Eight Belles (GIII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard and she’s targeting the Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park. … John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird worked a bullet five furlongs in: 58.80 for trainer Mark Casse This was the son of Birdstone’s first work since his runner-up effort behind Protonico in the May 1 Alysheba (GII). … The Casse barn’s Tepin breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40, which was the daughter of Tapit’s first work since her victory in the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GII). … Sky Captain, another Casse trainee, worked five furlongs in :59.80 over the main track, his first work since being disqualified from second to fourth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Derby Day. … Retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, trainer Dallas Stewart and jockey Jon Court will join Darren Rogers and John Asher as guests on Saturday’s “Inside Churchill Downs” which airs from 10-11 a.m. on ESPN 680/105.7 or www.espnlouisville.com. … On Thursday, it was announced that Court, 54, will receive the 2015 Mike Venezia Memorial Award on Monday at Belmont Park. Established in 1989, the Mike Venezia Memorial Award is awarded to jockeys who exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship. It is named in honor of Mike Venezia, who died as a result of injuries he suffered in a spill in 1988 at Belmont Park. Previous winners include Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Jerry Bailey, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, Richard Migliore and Ramon Dominguez. Churchill Downs plans to salute Court for the honor between races on Saturday. … The weekly “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” returns Sunday in Churchill Downs’ ITW area on the second floor of the Clubhouse. Bettors can enter for $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members) and are required to make mythical $2 Win/Place bets on Races 3-8. The highest bankroll will win a $1,000 cash voucher or free entry to the Churchill Downs Challenge on June 13. Second place is a $500 voucher and third is a $250 voucher. Registration takes place Sunday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the top of the Gate 17 escalators. … Entries for Monday’s Memorial Day feature, the 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII) for fillies and mares at six furlongs, will be taken Saturday morning. Possible entrants, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork, are Boss Barney’s Babe, Enchanting Lisa, Heykittykittykitty, Milam, Pistolpackinpenny, defending champ Southern Honey, Spring Included, Street Story, Toni’s Hollyday and You Bought Her. … General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Monday, and there’s a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. … Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the “Call to the Post” for each race on Monday. He’s also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags.

Kentucky Derby Winner American Pharoah Back On Track with Churchill Downs Jog

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Preakness (GI) winner American Pharoah (7-6-0-0—$3,730,300) returned to the track Thursday for the first time since Saturday’s seven-length romp in the slop at Pimlico Race Course. The 3-year-old flew from Baltimore to Louisville on Monday to begin preparations for the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on Saturday, June 6 from his classic’s base at Churchill Downs Barn 33.

 

Following four days of rest, Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, went to the track with regular morning partner Jorge Alvarez at 6:45 a.m. and jogged once around the one-mile oval.

 

“He looked very good, I couldn’t be happier,” said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s chief assistant. “His energy level is good.”

 

Barnes said the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile would return to the Churchill Downs main track Friday after the renovation break around 8:30 a.m. ET, but was unsure as to whether American Pharoah would jog or gallop.

 

“We’ll go to the track tomorrow and Bob [Baffert] will tell me what he wants to do,” Barnes said. “If he says jog him another day, we’ll jog him another day. If he says gallop, then we’ll gallop. Bottom line, he is in charge; I’m just the caretaker of the horse.”

 

American Pharoah is following a similar post-Preakness training pattern that all three of Baffert’s previous Triple Crown hopefuls – Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) – went through. Each of Baffert’s Derby and Preakness winners trained at Churchill Downs before shipping to New York for the Belmont. Barnes stated that it is much easier to train in this manner because they are stabled at Churchill.

 

“We come back here with all of our Derby horses and we usually come back this way,” said Barnes, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native that has teamed with Baffert since 1999. “I’d prefer to train here, we’re set up here and our barn is here. I mean New York is all right. It’s a big track and a sandy track. You get a lot of weather that you get here, but we’re comfortable here.

 

“We had some disappointing years. Point Given … I really thought we could have won the Triple Crown that year and we didn’t win the first one. But he [American Pharoah] fits right in with the best of them. He’s a pleasure to train, he does everything with ease and he’s a big mover. I think probably one of his best assets is how he moves. His action and everything is forward and big.”

 

American Pharoah’s pursuit for racing immortality will mark the 14th time – and third in the last four years – since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978 that a horse has had a chance to join the 11 Triple Crown champions. According to reports, his challengers in the 1 ½-mile Belmont could include (with known jockeys) Carpe Diem, Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan), Frammento (Mike Smith), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij-IRE, Tale of Verve and War Story (Colby Hernandez).

 

In other American Pharoah news, it was announced Wednesday that he will stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. when his racing career is concluded. Zayat, his owner and breeder, retains management of American Pharoah through the end of the year.

 

PREAKNESS RUNNER-UP TALE OF VERVE ALREADY IN NEW YORK FOR BELMONTCharles Fipke’s Tale of Verve, the longshot late-closing second to American Pharoah in the Preakness, shipped to New York after the race to prepare for a rematch in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Dallas Stewart was pleased with the Tale of Ekati colt’s performance and how he handled the off track.

 

“He did well,” Stewart said. “It was a crazy day with the rain and everything but they all handled the rain. It was pretty amazing to see.”

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Churchill Downs Barn Notes

Thursday, May 21, 2015

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MR. Z TO RECEIVE BREAKCalumet Farm’s Mr. Z, who finished fifth in the Preakness, will receive a 30-to-40-day break, according to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who said that the son of Malibu Moon came out of the race well.

 

“He wears blinkers and he got in behind that horse [American Pharoah] and caught a lot of mud and everything in those blinkers,” Lukas said. “That was not a true indication on how he runs, that mud and wearing full cup blinkers really compromised him.”

 

DANZIG MOON ON TARGET FOR QUEEN’S PLATEJohn C. Oxley’s Danzig Moon, sixth in the Preakness, is on target for the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, the $1 million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine on Sunday, July 5.

 

“He was coughing all the way home, but I think more importantly he didn’t want to run into [the mud],” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father Mark. “You couldn’t even tell he had blinkers on. I want to let him have two easy weeks before we do anything like [a breeze].”

 

NINE ENTERED IN SATURDAY’S LOU ’CAP; MAJESTIC HARBOR 7-2 MORNING LINE FAVE – Gallant StablesMajestic Harbor is the 116-pound high weight and was made the 7-2 morning line favorite against a competitive field of nine older horses for Saturday’s 78th running of the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (Grade III), but it remains unclear if the 7-year-old will start in the 1 ½-mile marathon on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

 

“I’m still not 100-percent sure that we’ll run, but we entered him,” said trainer Paul McGee, who also has the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (GII), a 1 ½-mile dirt race on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard under consideration. “I’ve got to get with the owners. We may still opt to run in the Brooklyn. I just haven’t consulted with the owners just yet, so that’s how it stands.”

 

Last year, Majestic Harbor sprang a 14-1 upset in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI) when under the care of West Coast trainer Sean McCarthy. He is coming into his next start off a pair of April victories in off-the-turf allowance races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

 

The Louisville Handicap field from the rail out (with jockey, assigned weight and morning line odds): Royal Blessing (Miguel Mena, 114 pounds, 12-1); Cozy Kitten (Julien Leparoux, 114, 8-1); Calvados-ARG (Rafael Hernandez, 115, 5-1); Layton Register (Jon Court, 113, 15-1); Majestic Harbor (Corey Lanerie, 116, 7-2); For Greater Glory (Joe Rocco Jr., 114, 12-1); Xtra Luck (Brian Hernandez Jr., 114, 4-1); Golden Soul (Robby Albarado, 115, 4-1); and Patrioticandproud (Shaun Bridgmohan, 116, 9-2).

 

Charles Fipke’s 5-year-old Golden Soul has shown up in a dozen graded stakes races throughout his career but has yet to find success at such a level. Two years ago, the son of Perfect Soul was runner-up to Orb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Golden Soul is two-for-two on the Matt Winn Turf Course and trainer Dallas Stewart, who won this race three years in a row with Silverfoot (2004-06), says that his affinity for the Churchill turf gives the horse a good advantage.

 

“He likes the track, and the race is at a mile-and-a-half distance,” Stewart said. “We think he’s going to like it.”

 

Stewart went on to say that Golden Soul was a horse that he had to be patient with – much like he was with Saturday’s Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve.

 

“He was second here going a mile first time out and then he won at Fair Grounds so he got with it a little earlier than Tale of Verve, but they’re all different.” Stewart said. “You just have to take your time with him. He’s doing real well, I’m happy with him. His works have been good.”

 

The Louisville Handicap goes as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race card at approximately 4:18 p.m. ET. First post is 12:45 p.m. ET.

 

TRENDING – Seven-time Churchill Downs champion jockey Corey Lanerie regained the top spot in the local rider standings with eight wins last week (May 14-17). He enters Week 4 with a 17-13 advantage over Julien Leparoux. Robby Albarado is third with 12 wins after winning five last week, including a three-win day on Saturday. … Tom Amoss led all trainers with three wins last week. Steve Asmussen enters the week as the top trainer with seven victories, one more than Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans. Amoss, Mark Casse, Chris Hartman and Mike Maker have five wins each. … Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. and Maggi Moss are tied atop the owner’s standings with three wins each. … Commerce Alert: There have been 85 claimed horses for a total of $1,798,500 through the first 14 days of the 38-day Spring Meet compared to 54 for $1,196,500 over the same period a year ago.

 

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Churchill Downs Barn Notes

Thursday, May 21, 2015

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DOWN THE STRETCHBayern, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, returned to the Churchill Downs work tab Wednesday morning with a six-furlong breeze in 1:11.80 – his first move since a subpar sixth of six finish in the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day. The 4-year-old, with Miguel Mena aboard, clicked off fractions of :23.80, :35.60, :47.60 and :59.60. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.20. Meanwhile, another Bob Baffert-trained runner, Hoppertunity, last year’s Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) champ, breezed a half-mile in :49.60 on Tuesday. Baffert had previously said that Bayern’s next target could be the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at one mile on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard. “Bob will come in and make his mind up where we’re going,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. “We haven’t quite decided yet.” … Churchill Downs has a special five-day racing schedule this week: Thursday (5 p.m. all times Eastern, 8 races), Friday (12:45 p.m., 9 races), Saturday (12:45 p.m., 10 races), Sunday (12:45 p.m., 10 races) and Memorial Day Monday (12:45 p.m., 11 races). … The music of Killer Lips will entertain guests in the Plaza during today’s Twilight Thursday eight-race program. Killer Lips is known around Louisville for their raw energy and performs Pop/Top 40 as well as 90s and Classic Rock. Also featured are $1 beer from 5-7 p.m., food trucks and a special Handicapping 101 tent for newcomers. Gates open at 4 p.m. Thursday, the first race is 5 p.m. and the finale is set for 8:39 p.m.  … There’s a $6,447 carryover for Thursday in the 10-cent Lucky 7 Jackpot (Races 2-8) and a $3,078 carryover in the $2 Pick 6 (Races 3-8). … General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Monday, and there’s a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. … Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the “Call to the Post” for each race on Monday. He’s also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags. … The Memorial Day feature is the 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Possible starters, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork, are Enchanting Lisa, Heykittykittykitty, Milam, defending champ Southern Honey, Spring Included, Toni’s Hollyday and You Bought Her. Entries will be taken on Friday. … The weekly “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” returns Sunday in Churchill Downs’ ITW area on the second floor of the Clubhouse. Bettors can enter for $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members) and are required to make mythical $2 Win/Place bets on Races 3-8. The highest bankroll will win a $1,000 cash voucher or free entry to the Churchill Downs Challenge on June 13. Second place is a $500 voucher and third is a $250 voucher. Registration takes place Sunday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the top of the Gate 17 escalators. … Approximately 800 guests participated in Family Adventure Day activities last Sunday despite inclement weather. The next event, in conjunction with Kroger and Kosair Children’s Hospital, is scheduled for Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21. … Birthdays: Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion (51) on Friday; trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi (41) on Saturday; former Hall of Fame and Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Don Brumfield (77) on Sunday; and trainer Ian Wilkes (50) on Monday. Belated birthday wishes to trainer Grant Forster, who celebrated No. 41 this past Monday. … The sixth annual “Buck” Wheat Golf Scramble to benefit The Backside Learning Center is Tuesday at South Park Country Club (915 South Park Road, Fairdale, Ky. 40118). The shotgun start is 12:30 p.m. and a reception with silent auction will follow the tournament. For

Kentucky Derby Winner, Triple Crown Hope American Pharoah Returns To Churchill Downs

With his date with racing history in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on the near horizon, Zayat Stables’ Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness (GI) winner American Pharoah returned to Churchill Downs on Monday to prepare for the third jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.

The Bob Baffert-trained son of Pioneerof the Nile stepped off a van around 2:30 p.m. (all times EDT) at the track that has been his training center since his arrival for the Kentucky Derby on April 27.  American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2 and moved a step closer to racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978 with his seven-length romp in the Preakness at rain-soaked Pimlico on Saturday.

The colt boarded a plane in Baltimore in late morning for the flight to Louisville, which touched down around 2 p.m. Assistant trainer Jim Barnes led American Pharoah to the barn following a short van ride from Louisville International Airport.

“Everything went very well,” Barnes said. “He’s a very good shipper.  We had a day to rest in Baltimore, which always helps.  Usually we have to get out of there real early the next morning, so we were able to give him a regular day off there. 

“He came in here with very high energy, so everything looks good.”

Back in familiar surroundings at Churchill Downs, American Pharoah’s activity will be limited to the barn for the next few days.

“The next five days will be very light,” Barnes said.  “He’ll probably walk another three to four days, and then he’ll probably have a couple of jog days.  Basically right now it’s just getting a little weight on him and getting him happy.  He looked fine today getting off the van here.”

American Pharoah did not work between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but that will not be the case in the nearly three weeks leading up to the Preakness.  Barnes said the colt would work once or twice before the mile and a half “Test of the Champion,” but the schedule would be determined by Baffert.

Owner-breeder Ahmed Zayat’s colt will be fourth Baffert trainee to attempt a rare Triple Crown sweep.  Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) each won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, but could not win the Belmont – although Silver Charm and Real Quiet were runners-up in their respective runnings.

“It is exciting.  It’s not our first time at it.  You have to just prepare yourself for anything, because it’s a tough one to win.  The first one (the Kentucky Derby) is very tough.  We’ve had a lot of success in the Preakness, and I don’t know why that is.  The Derby winners and the horses that run well (for us) in the Derby ship-up to Baltimore and really run well there. 

“The next one’s the tough one.  It’s a mile and a half and a big sandy track, and you have the new shooters coming.  But whatever happens, happens.  We’d love to win it, but if it doesn’t happen we’re good losers.  But we would like to make history.”

American Pharoah Returns To Churchill Downs Monday To Prepare For Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown Bid

Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah, the Kentucky Derby champ who splashed his way to a seven-length romp in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, is booked on a Monday flight from Baltimore to Louisville and is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs’ Barn 33 around 2 p.m. ET to begin preparations for the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on Saturday, June 6, according to stall manager Steve Hargrave.

American Pharoah will travel from the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Louisville International Airport on a H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company charter flight with a pair of stablemates: Michael Petersen’s Cat Burglar, who was third in Friday’s Pimlico Special (GIII), and Kaleem Shah Inc.’s Luminance, fifth in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (GII).

On Sunday morning, Hargrave expected Monday’s flight to land in Louisville around 1:30 p.m. ET with the van expected to drop the horses off at Baffert’s Barn 33 about a half-hour later.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert appears to be following a schedule he used with his three other Triple Crown prospects. Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) returned to Churchill Downs to prepare for the Belmont Stakes after winning the Preakness. Each had two breezes between the second and third jewels of the Triple Crown. The first workouts came 11 or 12 days after the Preakness (Silver Charm: 6F in 1:14.80 11 days after the Preakness; Real Quiet: 5F in :59.80 12 days after the Preakness; and War Emblem: 5F in 1:00.60 11 days after the Preakness). Their final breezes were staged on the Tuesday before the Belmont (Silver Charm: 5F in 1:00; Real Quiet: 5F in 1:01; and War Emblem: 5F in 1:01).

If Baffert follows a similar plan, American Pharoah could breeze sometime around Wednesday, May 27 with a final breeze on Tuesday, June 2 before catching a flight to New York on Wednesday, June 3.

American Pharoah (7-6-0-0—$3,730,300) is likely to have light activity in the week ahead, according to Baffert. After winning the Run for the Roses, the colt remained in his barn until the Thursday after the Derby.

American Pharoah’s pursuit for racing immortality will mark the 14th time – and third in the last four years – since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978 that a horse has had a chance to join the 11 Triple Crown champions. According to reports, his challengers in the 1 ½-mile Belmont could include Carpe Diem, Frammento, Frosted, Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij (IRE) and Tale of Verve.

LOUISVILLE HANDICAP TAKES SHAPE – Next Saturday’s featured event at Churchill Downs is the 78th running of the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (Grade III) and Gallant StablesMajestic Harbor could be the 116-pound starting high weight if trainer Paul McGee elects to run the 7-year-old in the 1 ½-mile turf marathon. Other known possible starters are Calvados-ARG (115 pounds), Golden Soul (115), Cozy Kitten (114), For Greater Glory (114), Xtra Luck (114) and Russellin (113).

McGee says Majestic Harbor exited his April 25 triumph in a Churchill Downs allowance optional claiming event in good order and is “probable” for the Lou ’Cap. However, the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (GII) at 1 ½ miles on dirt on the Belmont Stakes undercard also is under consideration.

“We may run in the Brooklyn; we still haven’t decided on that yet,” McGee said. “He’s doing real well right now. He’s run twice on turf. The first time he ran third at Del Mar and the other time was against Finnegan’s Wake who came back and won the Woodford Reserve, so I think that may have flattered his grass form a little bit. It’s kind of an unknown I guess you could say. I don’t know that he likes the grass any more than he likes the dirt, but it doesn’t necessarily work against him either.”

Charles E. Fipke’s Golden Soul, second to Orb two years ago in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), has racked up a pair of allowance wins on the Matt Winn Turf Course. In two starts this year, 5-year-old Golden Soul has not finished in the money. His last start came in the Feb. 21 Fair Grounds Handicap (GIII) where he ran ninth beaten 7 ½ lengths. Trainer Dallas Stewart, who saddled Tale of Verve to an upset second-place finish in Saturday’s Preakness, won three consecutive editions of the Louisville Handicap from 2004-06 with Silverfoot, who is only the second horse to win three consecutive runnings of this race. Chorwon scored three straight Louisville Handicaps from 1997-99.

ROMANS’ ANGELS PLANS UPDATED – Trainer Dale Romans is looking ahead with his trio of recent stakes-winning females: Birdatthewire, Keen Pauline and Molly Morgan.

Stonestreet Stables’ Keen Pauline pulled a 15-1 wire-to-wire upset in Friday’s Black Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico, and Romans said the race unfolded according to plan.

“I’ve been pointing her since the beginning of the year toward the Black Eyed Susan,” he said. “There was no speed in the race so the whole plan was to go the lead and go wire to wire. She is quick but she has the pedigree to run forever. I don’t know if she wants to be going against the best just yet. We’ve got a long year and a lot of 3-year-old options. I’ll figure it out in the next week or so.”

Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 Saturday morning, and the five-time winner at Churchill Downs is on target for either the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (GII) on June 13 – a 1 1/8-mile race she won last year – or the $1 million Delaware Handicap (GI) at Delaware Park on July 18.

Forum Racing IV’s Birdatthewire also breezed five furlongs Saturday, clocking the distance in in 1:00.20. Fifth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, she is more than likely to make her next start on the Belmont Stakes undercard in the $750,000 Acorn Stakes (GI).

Meanwhile, Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 on Friday and remains on target for the Belmont Stakes (GI) in three weeks.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Churchill Downs will have a special five-day racing week in the coming week. After dark days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the Louisville track will host programs on Thursday (5 p.m. ET), Friday (12:45 p.m. ET), Saturday (12:45 p.m. ET), Sunday (12:45 p.m. ET) and Memorial Day Monday (12:45 p.m. ET). The Memorial Day feature is the 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Possible starters, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork, are Enchanting Lisa, Heykittykittykitty, Milam, defending champ Southern Honey, Spring Included, Toni’s Hollyday and You Bought Her. … Stall manager Steve Hargrave reports that Danzig Moon, sixth in the Preakness Stakes, is expected to return to Churchill Downs via a van ride overnight around 2 a.m. ET.

Horsemen (Mostly) Like American Pharoah In Preakness, But Some Have Post Position Concerns

Saturday’s 140th running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I) – headlined by the Top 3 finishers in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands: American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund – dominated conversations on the Churchill Downs backstretch Friday morning.

Several locally-based horsemen offered their opinions on the 1 3/16-mile middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown that will take place at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course:

Bret Calhoun: “I like him [American Pharoah], but I think the million dollar question is how he bounced out of it [the Kentucky Derby] and everything sounds like he bounced out if it well. I guess my concern is that the Derby was the first really hard race that he’s had, he’s dominated his other races. He had to get down and run that day, I know he had to be pretty tired. Other than that I think he’s definitely the best horse, it’s just a matter of how much the race took out of him.”

Wayne Catalano: “I’m going to be rooting for American Pharoah, obviously. It would be nice to see a Triple Crown winner, but I also like the horse that ran second [Firing Line], that horse looks pretty good.”

Carl Nafzger: “I think it’s going to be quite an interesting race since American Pharoah ended up in the one hole and Dortmund ended up in the two. That’s a complete different nature; they’ve got to get out of the gate because there are a lot of things that can happen in the one hole. If he can get out of the gate well, then I think he can win it. If the break doesn’t go well, then I think it will be a wide open race.”

Paul McGee: “I like American Pharoah, I think he’ll win it. I saw him coming out of the Derby really good and I think he can come back and beat him again. I’d like to give you a longshot, but he’ll be very tough to beat.”

William “Buff” Bradley: “I like Firing Line. He trained well here and he looks like he is the improving horse.”

Miguel Mena: “I like American Pharoah, I want to see a Triple Crown winner. He could look any better training, he was very smooth. I like Dortmund too, but I think American Pharoah is better than Dortmund. I hope that he gets a good trip, I know that the one hole is not too good, but we got to hope for a Triple Crown winner.”

Jimmy Baker: “[I like] American Phaorah. I was in the barn with him here for the last month, he’s a beautiful horse and a nice horse and I think racing needs to have a contender for the Triple Crown and he’s the only one that can do it. He has my vote.”

Ron Moquett: “I’m going to stick with the hometown boys; I like Norm Casse’s horse [Danzig Moon]. I’m a homer to a fault so if you’re from here, I want you to do well. I also like Mr.Z.”

During the last 35 years, there have been only 13 editions of the Preakness that were contested by the 1-2-3 finishers of the Kentucky Derby. In those 13 races, the Derby winner won again.

American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund will be the first Derby Top 3 to run in the Preakness since 2009, when Mine That Bird, Pioneerof the Nile (the sire of American Pharoah) and Musket Man fell victim to Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner and eventual Horse of the Year  Rachel Alexandra, who is the last horse to win the Preakness after skipping the first jewel of the Triple Crown. In 1997, the Bob Baffert-trained Silver Charm won both the Derby and Preakness, while Captain Bodgit and Free House, finished second and third in the Derby before trading placings in the Preakness.\

The last time the top three Kentucky Derby finishers were also the first three past the finish in the Preakness was in 2007, when third-place Derby finisher Curlin captured the Preakness with Derby winner Street Sense a close runner-up and Hard Spun finishing third, as he had done in the Derby.

The Preakness goes as Race 13 on Pimlico’s 14-race card Saturday at approximately 6:18 p.m. (all times Eastern), about 28 minutes after Churchill Downs’ final race of the day. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first of 11 live races is 12:45 p.m. The co-features are split divisions of the $65,000-added Keertana overnight stakes, which go as Races 8 (4:18 p.m.) and 11 (5:50 p.m.).

The Preakness, along with other select stakes from Pimlico, will be shown on Churchill Downs’ massive Big Board between live races. Highlighting special wagers with guaranteed pools offered by the Maryland Jockey Club are a $500,000 Pick 5 covering Races 9-13 and a $1.5 million Pick 4 on Races 10-13. Both are 50-cent minimums.

Churchill Downs has a special box-seat package for the Preakness Stakes simulcast. For $24, patrons can get a box seat in Section 314, an official program, one domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt. The package can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com by clicking the “Tickets” icon, by calling (502) 636-4450 or by visiting Churchill Downs’ on-track box office located near the track’s Gate 1 entrance between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

TWO DIVISONS OF KEERTANA STAKES HEADLINE SATURDAY CARD Split divisions of the $65,000 Keertana Stakes, which is run at a distance of 1 3/8 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course, will be the featured live racing events at Churchill Downs on Preakness Day.

The 1 3/8-mile event is named for Barbara Hunter’s homebred Keertana, who won four of her nine starts at Churchill Downs which included a nose triumph over males in the $111,200 Louisville Handicap (GIII) in 2011. The daughter of Johar also won the Regret Stakes (GIII) in 2009.   She also ran third over the Matt Winn Turf Course to Shared Account and Midday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) in 2010.

The first division of the 1 3/8-mile race features Ramona Bass’s  Courteasan, who is the 3-1 morning line favorite and is coming off of a fourth-place effort in the Bewitch Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland, where she was beaten 2 ½ lengths for trainer Christophe Clement. The four-year-old daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense will be looking for her first victory since a triumph in the Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in November 2013.  Courteasan, who will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, is one of only two horses in the 10-horse field with a stakes win on her resume.  Stella Perdomo’s Meri Shika is the only other filly or mare in the race with a stakes win on their resume. The French-bred daughter of Sprit One, who is coming off of an allowance win at Keeneland, scored a stakes victory last August at Woodbine in the Flaming Page Stakes for trainer Roger Attfield. The five-year-old mare started off her career in her native France before moving across the pond to join Attfield’s stable at Woodbine. She has won two of her twelve starts in North America and will be ridden by jockey Luis Quinonez.

Of the ten fillies entered in the race, Patricia Mosley’s Bitty Kitty is the only horse with multiple wins on Churchill turf, the homebred daughter of Kitten’s Joy has won two of her three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course. Last May she broke her maiden on her tenth attempt, which then followed with an allowance victory over the Churchill turf. The Brendan Walsh-trained mare is looking to end a steak of losses, all of which have come against graded stakes company and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who won this race in its inaugural running in 2013 aboard Treasured Up.

Curtis Green’s Maria Maria is coming off of a third-place effort in the Bewitch Stakes (GIII), where she ran ahead of the morning line favorite Courteasan. The homebred daughter of Curlin will be making her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. She was previously trained by James DiVito.

All fillies and mares for both divisions will carry 121 pounds. The field for the first division of the Keertana Stakes, from the rail out (with jockey): Bitty Kitty (Shaun Bridgmohan), Meri Shaka (Fr) (Luis Quinonez) First Romance (Francisco Torres), Courteasan (Corey Lanerie), Ketel Twist (Albin Jiminez), Freethinker (Jon Court), VV Goodnight (Robby Albarado), Super Sky (Marcelino Pedroza), Maria Maria (Joe Rocco, Jr.) and Stellaris (James Graham).

The second-division of the Keertana Stakes is headlined by Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Always Kitten, who is looking to end a streak of seven straight losses. The homebred daughter of Kitten’s Joy is coming off of a seventh-place finish in the Very One Stakes (GIII) at Gulfstream Park where she was beaten by graded stakes winner Irish Mission. Her last victory took place last March in the Jersey Lilly Stakes at Sam Houston Race Course. Miguel Mena has the mount for trainer Mike Maker.

Antionette Oppenheimer’s Eastern Belle will be making only her second start in the United States, the British-bred daughter of Champs Elysees made her U.S. debut for trainer Graham Motion last time out in an allowance race at Keeneland, where she finished third beaten 4 ¾ lengths. The four-year-old filly has compiled an 8-3-0-1 record with her only finish off the board coming in the Nassau Stakes (Group 1) at Goodwood in her native Great Britain, which was her last start prior to coming to the U.S.

Trained by Clement, Walk Close looks to return to her winning ways after running fourth in her 2015 debut, which came in the Santa Barbara Handicap (GII) at Santa Anita. The homebred daughter of Tapit last found the winner’s circle in June of last year at Belmont Park in the Wild Applause Stakes. Walk Close will be ridden by jockey Corey Lanerie.

The field for the second division of the Keertana Stakes, from the rail out (with jockey): Walk Close (Corey Lanerie), Eastern Belle (GB) (Joe Rocco, Jr.), Galileo’s Moon (Ire) (Marcelino Pedroza), Always Kitten (Miguel Mena), Wicked Temper (Chris Landeros), Industrial Policy (Shaun Bridgmohan), Ceisteach (Ire) (Channing Hill), Nice Number (Jesus Castanon), Notte d’Oro (Brian Hernandez, Jr.), Antonia Autumn (James Graham), and Honey Lake (Jon Court).

WORK TAB- Robert Lutrell’s undefeated filly Promise Me Silver returned to the work tab Friday morning working a half-mile in :46.80 for trainer Bret Calhoun. This was the daughter of Silver City’s first work since her victory in the Eight Belles Stakes (GIII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Also on the Friday morning work tab was Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), who worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Dale Romans.

Gunpowder Farm LLC’s Divisidero returned to the work tab as well, breezing a half-mile in :49 flat for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. This was the son of Kitten’s Joy’s first work since his victory in the American Turf Stakes (GII).

DOWN THE STRETCH – Nominations close Saturday for the $100,000 Aristides (GIII), the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for Saturday, May 30. … Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger returns to Churchill Downs on Sunday for a Churchill Charlie birthday bash and bike helmet giveaway by Kosair  Children’s Hospital. General admission to Churchill Downs is $3 but wristbands that include admission are required to access Family Adventure Day activities. They can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com for $8 until 10:45 a.m. Sunday or $10 at the gate on the day of the event. One dollar of every ticket purchased will benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. …Gary Palmisano will join Darren Rogers as co-host for Saturday’s “Inside Churchill Downs” on ESPN 680/105.7 from 10-11 a.m. Palmisano is subbing for Churchill Downs’ John Asher, who’ll be in Bowling Green, Ky. to attend his daughter Erin’s graduation ceremony from the honors college at Western Kentucky University. She graduates with a degree in international business.