Churchill Downs

Undefeated Blofeld Tops Field of Six for "Opening Night's'" Inaugural William Walker as Churchill Downs Opens Derby Week, 38-Day Spring Meet

Glencrest Farm and JSM Equine’s Blofeld, perfect in three career starts that includes victories in the Nashua (GII) and Futurity (GII), tops a field of six 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for Saturday night’s first running of the $100,000 William Walker at six furlongs on the main track.

The $100,000 William Walker is a new six-furlong race for 3-year-olds named for African-American jockey and 1877 Kentucky Derby winner William “Billy” Walker and highlights “Opening Night Presented by Stella Artois & Finlandia Vodka” that launches Kentucky Derby Week and the 38-day 2015 Spring Meet.

The William Walker will go as the seventh race on Saturday’s 11-race program that has a first post time of 6 p.m. (ET). Post time for the William Walker is 9:05 p.m.

Gates open at 5 p.m. and guests entering through Gates 10 and 17 will be welcomed with an opportunity to walk the “Hollywood Style Red Carpet” and be interviewed by Red Carpet hosts. Dress to impress cocktail attire and fashionable headwear are encouraged. The night’s entertainment lineup will include Sam Sneed on the Plaza Stage beginning at 5 o’clock and Tony and the Tan Lines beginning at 8.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Blofeld has not raced since his Nashua victory in November. John Velazquez, who has ridden the Quality Road colt in all of his starts, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position two.

Two other stakes winners are in the field: Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie and Starsky Weast’s Weast Hill.

Cinco Charlie, who is undefeated in two starts in Churchill Downs including a victory in last June’s Bashford Manor, is trained by Steve Asmussen. In addition to his Bashford Manor victory, Cinco Charlie has posted stakes victories at Delaware Park, Laurel, Fair Grounds and Sunland Park and was third to Blofeld in the Futurity.

Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Cinco Charlie and will break from post position four.

Brad Cox trains Weast Hill, who is undefeated in two starts. Winner of the Rainbow at Oaklawn in his most recent start, Weast Hill will break from post position five and be ridden by Jesus Castanon.

The field for the William Walker, from the rail out (with jockey and weight): Henry Jones (James Graham, 118 pounds), Blofeld (Velazquez, 123), Senor Grits (Julien Leparoux, 118), Cinco Charlie (Santana Jr., 120), Weast Hill (Castanon, 118) and Holiday Camp (Miguel Mena, 118).

Possible Kentucky Derby 141 Favorite American Pharoah Arrives at Churchill Downs

Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah, fresh off a dominant eight-length victory in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (Grade I) at Oaklawn Park, completed an uneventful Monday journey from the Hot Springs, Ark. track to Churchill Downs, where he stepped off a van at the home of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) shortly after 4 p.m. (all times Eastern).

The Bob Baffert-trained son of Pioneerof the Nile was accompanied to Barn 33 at Churchill Downs by assistant trainer Jim Barnes, who had traveled from the three-time Kentucky Derby winner’s Southern California base to the Arkansas Derby with American Pharoah.

“The horse looked like he traveled very well – he’s a good traveler,” said Barnes.  “The reason why we came here so early is that we were already halfway here.  You don’t want to go back to California and then come back to Churchill.”

American Pharoah, America’s champion two-year-old of 2014, carries a four-race winning streak – all stakes races, and three out of four being Grade I stakes events – into the Kentucky Derby.  His career record starts at 4-0-0 in five races with earnings of $1,411,500.  He has not been tested in his four races since his September debut at Del Mar, where American Pharoah finished fifth of nine in maiden special weight race that was his only start outside of graded stakes company.

Barnes said American Pharoah won’t need much training over the Churchill Downs track to be ready for the Kentucky Derby run on the first Saturday in May.

“We’re at Churchill and he’ll just take it easy,” said Barnes.  “He doesn’t need to do much.  He’ll breeze one time before the race.”

American Pharoah was accompanied to Baffert’s Churchill Downs barn by Longines Kentucky Oaks candidate Maybellene and Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Hopportunity, who is nominated to the Alysheba (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day.  Two more Baffert-trained Derby hopes – Kaleem Shah’s unbeaten Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Dortmund and Michael Lund Peterson’s Santa Anita Derby runner-up One Lucky Dane – remain in Southern California.

Arriving at Churchill Downs shortly after American Pharoah was Mr. Z, the third-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby and the second of Zayat’s trio of Kentucky Derby hopes.  Mr. Z is trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas scored his only win in 12 races in his career debut at Churchill Downs in late June.  The son of Malibu Moon has four runner-up finishes and four third-place runs in those races and has earned $652,226.

Zayat also owns Gotham (GIII) and Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner El Kabeir, who is training in New York with trainer John Terranova

Champion Untapable, Breeders' Cup Classic Winner Bayern, Belmont Stakes Winners Palice Malice & Tonalist Nominate to Spring Meet Stakes

Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner and champion 3-year-old filly Untapable, Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner and Horse of the Year finalist Bayern and Belmont Stakes (GI) winners Palace Malice and Tonalist top a large and highly accomplished roster of racing stars nominated to 10 stakes races scheduled during the April 25-May 2 Kentucky Derby Week celebration at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”).

Nominations for the 141st running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), the $1 million-guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks and $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) were announced earlier.  The roster of other Derby Week stakes events for the week also includes the renamed $200,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU (GIII), a Derby Day race named for the Hall of Fame jockey Day and previously known as the Derby Trial, and the $100,000 William Walker, a new six-furlong race for 3-year-olds named for African-American jockey and 1877 Kentucky Derby winner William “Billy” Walker set for the April 25 “Opening Night” that launches Kentucky Derby Week and the 2015 Spring Meet.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Untapable, who won the 2014 Longines Kentucky Oaks during a championship campaign that included four Grade I victories and concluded with a triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita, heads 22 fillies and mares ages 4 and up nominated to compete in the 30th running of the $300,000 La Troienne, one of five Grade I events on the Derby Week schedule. Untapable scored the first victory of her 4-year-old season last week with a 2 ½-length triumph in the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park. The Steve Asmussen-trained champion had been upset by Pin Oak Stables LLC’s fellow La Troienne nominee Gold Medal Dancer in her 2015 debut in Oaklawn’s Azeri (GII).

The 1 1/8-mile La Troienne, one of six stakes races that will be run on the Kentucky Oaks Day program on May 1, attracted other accomplished nominees that include Barry Schwartz’s Madison (GI) winner Princess Violet;  Town and Country Farms’ Alabama (GI) and Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) winner Stopchargingmaria; Harold Queen’s Royal Delta (GII) winner Sheer Drama; Bobby Flay’s Sunshine Millions Distaff winner Dame Dorothy; G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Falls City (GII) winner Frivolous; Bill Cubbedge’s Fleur De Lis (GII) and Chilukki (GII) winner Molly Morgan; John Clay’s Kentucky Oaks runner-up and Gazelle (GII) winner My Miss Sophia; and James B. Tafel LLC’s Indiana Oaks (GIII) winner Tiz Windy.

Untapable, a homebred daughter of Tapit, has a career record of 9-1-1 in 13 races with earnings of $3,416,725.

Kaleem Shah Inc.’s Bayern heads the rosters of nominees to both the 81st running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs, a Grade II Kentucky Derby Day race at seven furlongs for 4-year-olds and up, and the 12th running of the $400,000 Alysheba (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race on Kentucky Oaks Day for 4-year-olds and up named in honor of the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner and 1988 Horse of the Year. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Offlee Wild completed 2014 with a victory over Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and previously unbeaten Shared Belief in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. His 2014 victories also included the Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park, the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) at Parx and the Woody Stephens (GII) at Belmont Park. He finished first in Churchill Downs’ Derby Trial, but was disqualified by track stewards and placed second for interference.

Bayern, a finalist with eventual winner California Chrome and Shared Belief for the Eclipse Award for 2014’s Horse of the Year, has a record of 6-1-1 in 10 races with career earnings of 4,389,680.

Also nominated to both the Churchill Downs and Alysheba is Dogwood Stable’s 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, a son of two-time horse of the Year Curlin who won the Metropolitan Handicap (GI), Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII), New OrleansHandicap (GII) and Westchester Handicap (GIII) for trainer Todd Pletcher in 2014. Also on the roster of Alysheba nominees is Robert S. Evans’ Tonalist, whose victory in the 2014 Belmont Stakes ended California Chrome’s bid for a Triple Crown. The Christophe Clement-trained son of Tapit also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) and Peter Pan (GII) during his 3-year-old season.

A total of 27 nominations to the Churchill Downs also includes Cigar Mile (GI) winner Private Zone; Kings Bishop (GI) winner The Big Beast; Amsterdam (GII) winner Coup de Grace; Gulfstream Park Sprint (GIII) winner C. Zee; Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) third-place finisher Gentleman’s Bet; and 2013 Ack Ack (GIII) winner Pants on Fire.

Bayern, Palace Malice and Tonalist head the star-studded list of 48 nominees to the Alysheba that also includes Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Hoppertunity; Wood Memorial (GI) and Jim Dandy (GII) winner Wicked Strong; the Shug McGaughey-trained Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) and 2013 Remsen (GII) winner Honor Code; Hollywood Gold Cup (GI) winner Majestic Harbor;  Whitney (GI) winner Moreno; Belmont Stakes runner-up and Skip Away (GIII) winner Commissioner; 2012 Ack Ack (GIII) winner Neck ‘n Neck; Preakness (GI) runner-up Ride On Curlin; Ben Ali (GIII) winner Protonico; and Matt Winn (GIII) victor Tapiture.

Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (GI) winner Judy the Beauty heads an elite roster of fillies and mares ages 4 and up made eligible to compete in the 29th running of the $300,000 Humana Distaff (GI) at seven-furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day. The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper is owned and trained by Wesley Ward and her 2014 wins also included Keeneland’s Madison (GI), Santa Anita’s Las Flores (GIII) and the Rancho Bernardo (GIII) at Del Mar. Judy the Beauty ran fourth to Midnight Lucky in last year’s Humana Distaff and has a career record of 9-7-1 in 18 races with earnings of $1,662,122.

The roster of 26 fillies and mares eligible to run in the Humana Distaff also includes La Troinne nominees Dame Dorothy, Gold Medal Dancer, My Miss Sophia, Princess Violet and Stopchargingmaria. Others include Treadway Racing Stable’s Test (GI) winner Sweet Reason; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dogwood (GIII) winner Thank You Marylou; On Cloud Nine Stable’s 2014 Fantasy (GIII) winner Sugar Shock; Ashbrook Farm’s Winning Colors (GIII) winner Southern Honey; and Southern Equine Stable LLC’s and Whispering Oak Farm LLC’s Victory Ride (GIII) winner Street Story.

Other Breeders’ Cup heroes nominated to Derby Week Stakes races include the winners of the event’s turf races for 2-year-olds. Sheep Pond PartnersLady Eli, unbeaten winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI), heads 53 3-year-old fillies  eligible to compete in the 30th running of the $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day, and Ken Donworth, Ben McElroy and Wesley Ward’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) winner Hootenanny, one of 51 3-year-olds nominated to the 24th running of the $250,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GII) on Derby Day.

The Chad Brown-trained Lady Eli, who won her 3-year-old debut on Sunday in Keeneland’s Appalachian (GIII), is joined on the roster of Edgewood nominees by Ten Broeck Farm’s Sunset Glow, the Wesley Ward-trained runner-up in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Ward also has nominated Hat Creek Racing and Gatewood Bell’s Spanish Pipedream, winner of the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes on synthetic Polytrack at Turfway Park. Other nominees include Appalachian runner-up Miss Temple City; Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) winner Don’t Leave Me; Sweetest Chant (GIII) winner Consumer Credit; Florida Oaks (GIII) winner Quality Rocks; Sanibel Island winner Celestine; and LaCombe Memorial winner Mizz Money.

The Ward-trained Hootenanny is joined on the list of American Turf nominees by Palm Beach (GIII) winner Eh Cumpari; Cecil B. Demille (GIII) winner and Cincinnati Spiral (GIII) runner-up Conquest Typhoon; John Battaglia Memorial winner Royal Son; and Pasadena winner Pappacoolpappacool.

Sixty-one 3-year-olds nominated to the Pat Day Mile include the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of unbeaten Hopeful (GI) winner Competitive Edge, who returned from a layoff with an 8 ¼-length romp in Gulfstream Park’s Tamarac, and Blofeld, unbeaten winner of the Belmont Futurity (GII) and Aqueduct’s Nashua (GII). Others include Bay Shore (GII) winner March; San Vicente (GII) winner and Bay Shore runner-up Lord Nelson; Southwest (GIII) runner-up The Truth Or Else; Iroquois (GIII) runner-up Bold Conquest; Coolmore Lexington (GIII) runner-up Donworth; Gotham (GIII) runner-up Tiz Shea D; and Echo Eddie winner Gimme Da Lute.

Amerman Racing Stables LLC’s defending winner Coffee Clique tops 39 fillies and mares 4-years-old and up made eligible to compete in the 30th running of the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day.  Trainer Bryan Lynch’s 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro also won Saratoga’s Just A Game (GI) in 2014 and was third to fellow nominees Lady Lara (IRE) and Sandiva (IRE) in her 2015 debut in the recent Honey Fox (GII) at Gulfstream Park. Other nominees include Del Mar Oaks (GI) winner Personal Diary; Jenny Wiley (GI) winner Hard Not to Like; Cardinal (GIII) winner Strike Charmer; Modesty (GIII) winner I’m Already Sexy; Arlington Classic (GI) winner Istanford; Dance Smartly (GII) winner Overheard; Edgewood winner A Little Bit Sassy; Goldikova (GII) winner Filimbi; Matriarch (GI) third-place finisher Discreet Marq; and Bayou winner Eden Prairie.

The 21st running of the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day drew 31 nominations that include John Menary and Gail Cox’s Something Extra, Rigney Racing LLC’s Channel Marker and Wes Welker’s Undrafted – the 1-2-3 finishers in Keeneland’s recent Shakertown (GIII). Also nominated is Vinery Stables’ veteran Regally Ready, who won the five-furlong turf race in 2011 and took the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) later that year, and Team Valor International’s Speechify, winner of the Mr. Prospector (GIII) at Gulfstream Park.

The $100,000 William Walker, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby Week and Spring Meet Stakes schedule on Saturday, April 25, attracted 27 3-year-old nominees for its inaugural running. The Pletcher-trained Blofeld, a two-time Grade II winner also nominated to the Pat Day Mile, is the most accomplished of nominated horses.

Others nominated to the six-furlong race include the Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Holy Boss, winner of Oaklawn Park’s Bachelor, and Cinco Charlie, winner of Churchill Downs’ Bashford Manor (GIII) and stakes races at Laurel Park, Delaware Park, Fair Grounds and Sunland Park.

A complete list of nominations can be found online at: http://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes-nominations.

War Story Kentucky Derby 141-Bound after Churchill Downs Work

Loooch Racing Stables Inc., Glenn K. Ellis and Christopher Dunn’s War Story, third in the recent Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds, worked at Churchill Downs on Wednesday in preparation for a planned start in the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at the Louisville track on Saturday, May 2.

The 3-year-old Northern Afleet gelding breezed four furlongs over a fast track in :49.20 as Loooch Racing Stable’s Ron Paolucci and trainer Tom Amoss looked on. The work by War Story was his first since the March 28 Louisiana Derby, and Amoss said after the training move that War Story would be pointed to the Kentucky Derby and jockey Joe Talamo will have the mount in the Run for the Roses.

“We chose to work him with blinkers off, which is an idea that we’re considering for his next start, and the work went well,” Amoss said. “He’s got an affinity for the Churchill track – he won over it in his first start – and he showed that today in his work and how he finished up. Speaking to majority owner Ron Paolucci after the work, I think we’re looking towards the Kentucky Derby with him.”

War Story currents ranks 14th with 44 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. The point system determines the eligibility of Kentucky Derby candidates to be a part of the maximum field of 20 3-year-old Thoroughbreds that will compete in the race.

He launched his racing career with a victory in a seven-furlong maiden race on Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs and will bring a record of 2-2-1 in five races and earnings of $243,600 into the Derby. War Story was purchased by his current owners and moved to Amoss’ barn after his debut, and won a one-mile allowance optional claiming race at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds on Dec. 28 in the first outing for his new barn.

Along with his third-place run in the Louisiana Derby, War Story was the runner-up in the Lecomte (GIII) and Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds. Each of those races was won by International Star, who sits atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 171 points.

Late Nominations for Longines Kentucky Oaks, Woodford Reserve Turf; Nominations for 10 Derby Week Stakes Due Weds., April 8

Late nominations for the 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and the 29th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) are due to the racing office at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) by 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Wednesday, April 9.

Each late nomination to the Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, must be accompanied by payment of a $1,500 fee. The early nomination phase for the Oaks closed Feb. 21 with 154 fillies made eligible for the 1 1/8-mile race.

The Kentucky Oaks is scheduled for Friday, May 1 at Churchill Downs and will be televised by the NBCSN.

Late nominations to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, a 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby Day race for 4-year-olds and up on the Matt Winn Turf Course, must be accompanied by a fee of $1,000. The early nomination phase for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic concluded Feb. 21 and attracted nominations of 74 older grass stars.

April 8 also is the deadline for nominations to 10 stakes races scheduled to be run at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby Week. Nominations will close at 11:59 p.m. for a slate of races that begins with the first running of the $100,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds at six furlongs on Saturday, April 25 – “Opening Night” of the 38-day Spring Meet.

entucky Oaks Day stakes races with the April 8 nomination deadline include:

  • $300,000 La Troienne (GI) for fillies and mares 4 & up at 1 1/16 miles;
  • $400,000 Alysheba (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles;
  • $200,000 Eight Belles (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs;
  • $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf; and
  • $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) for 4-year-olds & up at five furlongs on turf.

Stakes races scheduled for Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 2 with the April 8 nomination deadline include:

  • $300,000 Humana Distaff (GI) for fillies & mares 4-years-old and up at seven furlongs;
  • $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs;
  • $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (GII) for fillies and mares at one mile on turf;
  • $250,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf; and
  • $200,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU (GIII) for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Horsemen can make late nominations to the Kentucky Oaks or Woodford Reserve Turf Classic or nominate horses to the 10 other Kentucky Derby Week stakes events by contacting Churchill Downs Racing’s Kelly Danner by telephone at (502) 638-3825 or email at Kelly.Danner@KyDerby.com. Nominations also can be made via fax at (502) 638-3915. Nomination forms for the Longines Kentucky Oaks, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and the 10 other Derby Week stakes are available online at www.churchilldowns.com.   

Partnership of Kentucky HBPA, Keeneland and Churchill Downs to Fund Work of Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (“HBPA”), Keeneland Racecourse and Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) will join in a unique partnership designed to generate funds for the work of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (“TAA”), the non-profit organization that serves as both an accrediting body for facilities that care for Thoroughbreds at the conclusion of their racing careers and a fundraising engine to support aftercare facilities approved by the alliance.

A partnership agreement signed by leaders of the three organizations calls for Kentucky HBPA member owners to contribute $5 to the TAA for each of their horses that start in races at the two tracks. Churchill Downs and Keeneland would then match each contribution generated in their respective races. The owner contribution and matching racetrack donations will begin on the opening day of each track’s spring racing sessions.

Keeneland is set to open its 15-day Spring Meet on Friday, April 3, and the first of 38 days of Spring Meet racing at Churchill Downs is set for Saturday, April 25.

Participation in the partnership by Thoroughbred owners is voluntary. Owners who wish to opt-out of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance funding partnership can do so by contacting the Horseman’s Bookkeepers at the tracks.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, a Lexington, Ky.-based 501(c) (3) non-profit organization created in 2012, awarded more than $2.4 million in grants to 42 accredited agencies in 2014.

“Churchill Downs, Keeneland and the Kentucky HBPA have all demonstrated their deep commitment to Thoroughbred aftercare through this initiative and they are to be commended for doing so,” said Jimmy Bell, president of both Darley America and the TAA. “We are immensely grateful to the owners who will be paying the $5-per-start fee and sincerely appreciate Churchill Downs and Keeneland matching those donations. We hope horsemen and racetracks in other parts of the country follow their example.”

“A quality life for all of our horses at the end of their racing days is an important issue for all horsemen, and the Kentucky HBPA believes this opportunity to provide vital funding for the work of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance will be embraced by our members,” said Marty Maline, Executive Director of the Kentucky HPBA. “The effort to create this partnership that links our members, Keeneland, Churchill Downs and the TAA has been very gratifying. This is a voluntary funding mechanism that will work for horsemen and tracks at every level of competition, and our members look forward to working with the TAA as its work continues to grow and thrive.”

“First and foremost, we must always do what is in the best interest of our horses; they are our No. 1 priority,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is providing a critical service to our industry, and Keeneland is proud to support their important work.”

“The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has done remarkable work in its very brief existence and Churchill Downs is excited to be a part of this partnership that will create important new funding for this non-profit organization,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “This fundraising partnership provides a wonderful opportunity for our organizations to work together to help move the necessary work of the still very young Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance forward.”

Based in Lexington, Ky., the TAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to serve as both an accrediting body for aftercare facilities that care for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their racing careers, and a fundraising body to support these approved facilities. Funded initially by seed money from Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, the TAA is comprised of and supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare professionals and other industry groups. In 2013, TAA awarded $1,000,000 to 23 accredited organizations and gave out an additional $2,400,000 to 42 accredited organizations in 2014.

 

"Priceless" Solid Gold Kentucky Derby 141 Winner's Trophy Unveiled

The solid gold trophy that will be presented to the owner of the 3-year-old Thoroughbred that wins the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 2 has arrived at Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) and was unveiled to members of the media on Tuesday, March 31.

The 14-karat gold, handcrafted Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy, which will be presented to the winning owner in ceremonies in the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle following American’s greatest race, arrived in Louisville aboard a Brinks truck on Friday evening. The priceless trophy was unveiled to the public for the first time during a Tuesday media briefing in the Directors Room of the Churchill Downs Clubhouse. Alongside the Winner’s Trophy were three smaller sterling silver replica trophies that will be presented to Kentucky Derby 141’s winning trainer, jockey and breeder.

The priceless trophy was crafted for the 40th consecutive year by a team of artisans from New England Sterling in North Attleboro, Mass., which has since been purchased by Richline, a subsidiary of Berskhire Hathaway Inc.

Susanne Blackinton-Juaire, a fifth-generation silversmith and a member of the team that created the trophy, was at Churchill Downs for the first public display of a trophy that she described as “a labor of love” for the team. She said the multi-layered task of creating each year’s Kentucky Derby Winner’s trophy usually lasts four-to-five months.

We typically start working on it in the fall,” Blackinton-Juaire said. “There’s a whole series: there’s the gold cup, the silver cups and the Kentucky Oaks trophies that we simultaneously work on. The gold (Derby winner’s) cup typically gets finished first to make sure all is good and we hold on to it a bit. We finished it up just a couple of weeks ago.”

Blackinton-Juaire said there is a reward in delivering the finished product to Churchill Downs, but the scene in the Derby Winner’s Circle in which the trophies are presented to the winning owner, trainer, jockey and breeder is the real payoff for the artisans who crafted trophy.

“They’ve put so much into it,” Blackinton-Juaire said. “We’re watching on the monitors or on TV, and there’s always the jockey or the owner, or there is someone just staring at the cup and they want to pick it right up and they’re holding it in the air. You see their elation – they’re just so happy and proud – and that always brings a smile to my face. It’s hard to let the trophy go, but when you see it in the hands of the winners and those smiling faces, we know it’s all worth it.”

The solid-gold Kentucky Derby 141 Winner’s Trophy, like its predecessors, is 22 inches tall and weighs approximately 65 ounces (neither measurement includes its jade base). The trophy is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider and has horseshoe-shaped wreath handles attached to its sides.

Churchill Downs declines to put a dollar value on the coveted trophy. Both the track and Richline prefer to describe the trophy’s value as “priceless”, since the only way to obtain it is to win the Kentucky Derby.

The trophy will be in the care of the Kentucky Derby Museum until Kentucky Derby Day. It has an annual schedule of public appearances that include display at the post draw for the Kentucky Derby on Wednesday, April 29, and at the Louisville-area Kroger location at which the hand-sewn garland of roses will be created on Kentucky Derby Eve, Friday, May 1.

The trophies unveiled Tuesday will be presented to the owners of Kentucky Derby 141’s winning horse twice. The first presentation comes immediately following the race in the Derby Winner’s Circle. Churchill Downs then takes the trophies back for engraving, and the engraved trophies are presented each year on the night of the running of Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap, which is scheduled this year for Saturday, June 13.        

KENTUCKY DERBY TROPHY QUICK FACTS

  • The 14-karat gold trophy topped by horse and rider was created by New England Sterling of North Attleboro, Mass., which has produced the hand-crafted trophy since 1975;
  • New England Sterling is owned by Richline, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.;
  • The handcrafted trophy’s standard design was commissioned by legendary Churchill Downs President Col. Matt Winn for the “Golden Anniversary Derby” in 1924;
  • The Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy is 22 inches tall and weighs approximately 65 ounces, excluding its jade base;
  • The trophy is topped by a 14-karat gold horse and rider and horseshoe-shaped wreath handles;
  • In 1997 the 18-karat gold horseshoe that adorns the trophy, which had been faced downward since its creation in 1924, was turned 180 degrees. Racing lore holds that the “luck will run out” of a horseshoe that is pointed down;
  • The trophy took on added features for the 75th (1949), 100th (1974) and 125th (1999) runnings of the Kentucky Derby. Each of those trophies included a mantle of “roses” fashioned from rubies and emeralds, along with a horseshoe filled with diamonds. Similar additions are planned for the trophy presented at the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2024;
  • The Kentucky Derby Winner’s Trophy has been created by New England Sterling in North Attleboro, Mass. since 1975;
  • It took an estimated 2,000 man-hours for New England Sterling artisans to create the trophy;
  • New England Sterling also creates three smaller, sterling silver replica trophies that are presented to the winning Kentucky Derby trainer, jockey and breeder;
  • The engraved Kentucky Derby winner’s trophies will be presented during a ceremony in the regular winner’s circle at Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 13.

Track Superintendent David Lehr to Retire in May; Assistant James Richardson Is Successor

Track Superintendent David Lehr will retire from that Churchill Downs Racetrack (CDRT) post at the end of May, concluding a career that spanned more than 43 years with the home of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). Lehr will be succeeded by Assistant Track Superintendent James “Jamie” Richardson, who will become just the fifth person in 104 years of Churchill Downs history to hold that job when he assumes his new duties in June.

The departure of 61-year-old David Lehr, who has held the post of track superintendent since 2012, means that Churchill Downs will not have a member of the Lehr family on its track maintenance team for the first time in 48 years. David Lehr joined Churchill Downs in 1972 and succeeded his older brother, Raymond “Butch” Lehr, as track superintendent upon his brother’s retirement. Butch Lehr had joined Churchill Downs in 1967 and assumed the duties of track superintendent in 1982.

Lehr’s retirement date is scheduled for May 31, and Richardson will begin work in his new post the following day. 

"After a long and distinguished career at Churchill Downs, David Lehr has decided to retire and we wish the very best for him and his family as he enters a new phase of his life,” Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said. “It will seem strange to be without a member of the Lehr family on our team after the combined 88 years of service by David and his brother, Butch. We trust that David will remain active in our industry after he enjoys a little rest, and we deeply appreciate his decades of work and tireless dedication to Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and our industry’s efforts to provide safe and fair racetracks throughout North America. Our horses and the people who ride them have had few better friends than David Lehr.

“We are very pleased that Jamie Richardson has accepted the opportunity to assume the post of track superintendent upon David Lehr’s departure at the end of May. Jamie had an impressive record on his arrival at Churchill Downs and worked very well with David during his three years here. We’ve been impressed by his work and enthusiasm, and his curiosity to learn about new practices and products that could benefit our ongoing efforts to sustain the worldwide reputation of our racing surfaces for safety and fairness.”

As only the fifth person to hold the post of track superintendent at 141-year-old racing and sports icon, Richardson follows Tom Young, who was appointed as the track’s first track superintendent by legendary General Manager and President Col. Matt Winn in 1911 and held the job for the next 50 years; Thurman Pangburn, who succeeded Young in 1962 and held the post until his retirement in 1981, and the Lehr brothers.

The track superintendent at Churchill Downs oversees the care, maintenance and preparation of the world-famous one-mile dirt surface over which the Kentucky Derby has been run since its debut at a track then known as the Louisville Jockey Club in 1875, and the Matt Winn Turf Course, a seven-furlong grass surface which hosted its first race on April 29, 1987 and has been a key component of a co-record eight visits by the Breeders’ Cup Championships to the Louisville track since 1988.

In Richardson, Churchill Downs will have a new track superintendent who has served in the number two position on its track team since 2012 and a veteran of Triple Crown events. Along with the two Kentucky Derbys he has worked at Churchill Downs, Richardson served as track superintendent for the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”) from 1989-2008. The MJC’s tracks include Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, the home of the Preakness Stakes (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Richardson, a 46 year-old native of Jarrettsville, Md., also served as track superintendent at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. for two years before he joined Churchill Downs.

David Lehr joined the Churchill Downs staff two days after his graduation from Louisville’s DuPont Manual High School in 1967 and, with the exception a stint in the Army in 1973-74, has worked beneath the track’s venerable Twin Spires since then. Even during his military duty, he came home to work with the track crew for the 100th Kentucky Derby in 1974.

Lehr became part of the track maintenance team upon his 1972 arrival at the track, and later served as Director of Operations at Trackside Training Center, which has a six-furlong training track and stabling facilities and is located about five miles from Churchill Downs Racetrack, from 1994 through May 2005. After his service at Trackside, Lehr returned to Churchill Downs and served as assistant track superintendent until he was named to the department’s top post in 2012.

“Churchill Downs has been an important part of my life and the lives of members of my family as long as any of us can remember, so my decision to retire after 43 years is somewhat bittersweet,” David Lehr said. “The decision is, however, the right thing for me and my family, and I’m looking forward to the next step in my life. We have always tried to do things the right way in taking care of our dirt and turf courses, and we’ve been on the lookout for new practices and technology to keep those tracks safe and fair. I’m very proud of our accomplishments and the growth of Churchill Downs racing during my career, and I wish Jamie Richardson the best in this very special job.”

“It’s a wonderful and very special thing to be named to this position at Churchill Downs and it is humbling to realize that only four other individuals have held this post in 104 years,” Richardson said. “It’s special to continue a long relationship with Triple Crown races that included my years of working with Pimlico and the Preakness and my work here at Churchill Downs during the past two runnings of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. I’d like to thank David Lehr for sharing his experience and knowledge during my time as assistant track superintendent at Churchill Downs and I wish him the best in his retirement.

“Many of the best horses in the world compete over our tracks at Churchill Downs, and the Kentucky Derby is the most famous race in North America and one of the greatest races in the world. I’m looking forward to my new responsibilities and the opportunity to work with horsemen and riders from around the world to race in our big events at Churchill Downs. To have this kind of opportunity at Churchill Downs at this time in my life is great honor.”

Baffert's 'Dynamic Duo' of American Pharoah, Dortmund Top Choices in Final Derby Futures; Mubtaahij Close Behind

Kentucky Derby fans saw much to like during the three days of betting in the fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s (“CDRT”)’ 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) but they were most attracted to three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert’s “dynamic duo” of Zayat Stables’ reigning 2-year-old champion American Pharoah (#1) and Kaleem Shah Inc.’s unbeaten Dortmund (#7), who were the pool’s 1-2 betting choices when wagering concluded Sunday evening.

American Pharoah, who made the recent Rebel (Grade II) at Oaklawn Park his third victory in four races, was the 5-1 fans’ choice among 24 betting interests to win the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2. Stablemate Dortmund, the likely favorite in next week’s Santa Anita Derby (GI), was next at 6-1 when betting in KDFW Pool 4 concluded Sunday at 6 p.m. (all times EDT).

Also closing at a single-digit betting price was Mubtaahij (#20), whose odds plummeted after his emphatic eight-length victory in Saturday’s $2 million UAE Derby (GII) at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse. Mubtaahi opened at 30-1 in the Pool 4 morning line and was a 69-1 shot prior to Saturday’s heroics, but his odds tumbled over the pool’s final two days and he closed as the 9-1 third choice. He was followed by Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner Carpe Diem (#5, 10-1), Florida Derby (GI) winner Materiality (#18, 12-1), Sunland Derby (GIII) winner Firing Line (#12, 13-1) and Louisiana Derby (GII) winner International Star (#14, 17-1). The always-popular Mutuel Field (#24), the “All Others” interest which included all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the 23 individuals in the pool, closed at odds of 11-1 after being favored in the three previous 2015 pools.

Wagering at racetracks, satellite wagering centers, TwinSpires.com and other online wagering platforms totaled $417,473 in Pool 4, which opened at noon on Friday. The Pool 4 included $273,016 in $2-minimum win wagering and $144,456 in exacta wagers.  Pool 4 increased by 24% from the 2014 total of $336,717.

Enthusiastic betting in the final KDFW pool provided a strong finish to the 17th annual Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which concluded with total betting across four pools of $1,522,976. The overall total was second-highest in the history of the bet, which debuted in 1999, and was an increase of 15 percent over total betting of $1,324,466 in 2014. The Kentucky Derby Future Wager was conducted in a three-pool format until it expanded last year to include a fourth pool, scheduled in November of the previous year.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans to wager on America’s greatest race well in advance of the famed Run for the Roses at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race. Winning payouts on all KDFW pools are determined by the odds that are in place at the end of the respective betting pool. Those winning mutuel payouts for the $2 minimum win and exacta wagers placed in each Kentucky Derby Future pool will be made following the running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2 at Churchill Downs.

No scratches or refunds are permitted during a KDFW pool. If Churchill Downs officials confirm that an individual horse will not participate in the Derby because of injury or other circumstance, wagering on that interest will be suspended immediately.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 featured seven individual horses that had not been part of Pool 3, including six newcomers that were not part of any of 2015’s three previous pools. Mubtaahij and Materiality attracted the strongest support among Pool 4’s new faces. The others were Spiral (GIII) winner Dubai Sky (#8, 23-1), Ami’s Flatter (#2, 91-1), Bold Conquest (#3, 91-1) and Madefromlucky (#17, 92-1). Returnee Frosted (#13, 40-1) appeared as a wagering interest in Pools 1 and 2, but was not among the 23 individuals listed in Pool 3.

Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools were selected by a committee that included CDRT Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Director of On-Air Racing Communications Jill Byrne,  Pari-Mutuel Marking Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President of Communications John Asher.

Follow this link for a roster of final odds and $2 win will-pays for Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4.

A list of $2 exacta will-pays for KDFW Pool 4 is available at this link.

Baffert's American Pharoah, Dortmund Are Top Betting Choices For Final 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool

The powerful hand held by Hall of Fame Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert heading into this year’s 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) is evident in the fact the two young stars from his stable – reigning 2014 2-year-old champion American Pharoah (#1) and unbeaten Dortmund (#7) – are the expected to be the top betting choices heading into this weekend’s fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s (“CDRT”) 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”).

Zayat Stables LLC’s homebred American Pharoah, a dazzling winner over a sloppy track in his 2015 debut in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, has been installed as the 9-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia in the last of four three-day KDFW pools. But Kaleem Shah Inc.’s unbeaten Dortmund, who scored his fifth consecutive victory in a front-running romp in Santa Anita’s San Felipe (GII), is very close behind his stablemate at 5-1. WinStar Farm LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Carpe Diem, the Todd Pletcher-trained winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII) in his 2015 debut, is next in Battaglia’s morning line odds at 6-1 and just ahead of the always-popular Mutuel Field (#24), which includes all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the 23 individual betting interests. The “All Others” interest will open the pool as its 8-1 fourth choice.

Wagering in the three-day Kentucky Derby Future Wager finale opens at noon (all times Eastern) on Friday, March 27 and is set to conclude on Sunday, March 29 at 6 p.m. Betting will be available at Churchill Downs and other racetracks and off-track betting and satellite wagering facilities across North America. Wagering also is available at TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering platform of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, and other online wagering outlets.

Interest has been strong in this season’s three previous KDFW pools. The betting total of $422,331 in Pool 3 pushed combined betting on earlier pools in November, February and March to $1,105,503. This is the second year that the Kentucky Derby Future Wager has been offered in a four-pool format that opens with three days of betting in late November.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans to wager on America’s greatest race well in advance of the famed Run for the Roses at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race. Winning payouts on all KDFW pools are determined by the odds that are in place at the end of the respective betting pool. Those winning mutuel payouts for the $2 minimum win and exacta wagers placed in each Kentucky Derby Future pool will be made following the running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2 at Churchill Downs.

No scratches or refunds are permitted during a KDFW pool. If Churchill Downs officials confirm that an individual horse will not participate in the Derby because of injury or other circumstance, wagering on that interest will be suspended immediately.

Other horses expected to draw strong support in Pool 4 include Sunland Park Derby (GIII) winner Firing Line (#12, 12-1), unbeaten Withers (GIII) winner Far From Over (#10, 15-1), Holy Bull (GII) winner Upstart (#22, 15-1) and San Felipe (GII) runner-up Prospect Park (#21, 15-1).

The upcoming fourth pool features seven horses that were not a part of Pool 3, with six of them appearing in a Derby Future pool for the first time. Holy Bull runner-up Frosted (#13, 30-1) returns after appearing in Pools 1 and 2, and is joined by newcomers Ami’s Flatter (#2, 50-1), Bold Conquest (#3, 50-1), Spiral (GIII) winner Dubai Sky (#8, 30-1), Rebel runner-up Madefromlucky (#17, 30-1), unbeaten Materiality (#18, 20-1) and UAE Derby (GII) contender Mubtaahij (IRE) (#20, 30-1).

Pletcher leads all trainers with six horses listed among the pool’s 23 individual horses. The Pletcher trainees are Carpe Diem, Daredevil (#6, 30-1), Far From Over, Itsaknockout (#13, 30-1), Madefromlucky and Materiality.

Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are selected by a committee that includes CDRT Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, Director of On-Air Racing Communications Jill Byrne,  Pari-Mutuel Marking Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President of Communications John Asher.

Real-time odds for each KDFW pool and other information on the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event web site at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-4-final-odds.

Free past performances for the wagering interests in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 and other Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown candidates will be available online at http://www.brisnet.com/.  

Follow this link for a complete list of Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4 betting interests and Mike Battaglia's morning line odds.