Churchill Downs

Champion Curlin Departs Churchill Downs For New York And Turf Date In Grade I Man O' War

 

"Horse of the Year" Curlin, winner of the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, departed the Louisville track late Thursday morning on a journey to New York, where the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike will make his debut on grass in Saturday's $500,000-added Man O' War (GI) at Belmont Park.

Trainer Steve Asmussen led the chestnut colt from his barn to a van that carried Curlin and other members of Asmussen's stable to New York. While Curlin is heading to Belmont Park for Saturday's race, the bulk of Asmussen's stable at Churchill Downs was bound for Saratoga Race Course for the summer.

Asmussen admitted to being "anxious" about Curlin's journey before the van pulled away for the trip to Louisville International Airport, where he and the other horses were scheduled to board an equine transport flight to New York. But the same word was appropriate when he talked of Saturday's turf debut in the Man O' War and its implications regarding hopes by majority owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Farm and Asmussen that Curlin could run in the Oct. 5 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The Arc will carry a record purse this year of four million euros, or roughly $5.8 million, and this year will be the world's richest turf race.

"It's part of the process," Asmussen said. "You think about where it is and everything involved, along with Stonestreet, Mr. Jackson and everybody who's involved. It's another step in trying to prove his quality."

Curlin's rivals in the 1 3/8-mile Man O' War are expected to included a pair of winners of the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (GI) in Red Rocks, who won the race at Churchill Downs in 2006, and Better Talk Now, who upset turf champion Kitten's Joy to take the race at Lone Star Park in 2004. Other likely rivals include Grand Couturier, who took the Sword Dancer Invitational (GI) at Saratoga last year.

"It's another great test for a great horse," Asmussen said. "It's a big test that we have in front of us in the accomplishments of the field and who they are. It's our first step on the turf and there are so many questions. But I can't say enough about how proud we are to be involved with Curlin."

Asmussen said that he and Jackson would be looking to see if the Curlin that runs on turf in the Man O' War is the same horse that has dazzled the world in victories in last fall's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (GI) and this year's $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) at Nad al Sheba.

"It's a race," Asmussen said. "You want to see how fast you are and his consistency. The races that he has spoiled us with all of last year as well as early in this year - we want more of the same."

Curlin's victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap on June 14 lifted his career record to 9-1-2 in 12 races with earnings of $9,396,800 - a total that currently ranks third all-time in American racing. He trails only Cigar ($9,999,815) and Skip Away ($9,616,360).

Curlin Breezes Easy Half-Mile on Main Track; Eyes Turf Debut On Saturday

Reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin worked an easy half-mile over the main track at Churchill Downs on Monday in preparation for what trainer Steve Asmussen plans as the colt's debut on turf this weekend.

Regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas was in the saddle as the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike worked at 6:30 a.m. (EDT) and comfortably covered the distance over a "fast" surface in :50.80 over a "fast" surface. He completed the work in fractional times of :13.20, :26.20 and :38.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.

The breeze followed last week's seven furlong work on turf in 1:31.20 and was Curlin's final move in preparation for his expected first outing on turf on Saturday, July 12 in either the $500,000 Man O' War (Grade I) at Belmont Park or the $200,000 Arlington Park Handicap (GIII) at Arlington Park. The decision on which race will be Curlin's target hinges on the resolution of a licensing issue in both racing jurisdictions regarding the colt's minority owner Midnight Cry Stable.

"He's an awesome horse - I'm excited," Asmussen said. "It looks like we ought to know something on the licensing today, I understand. We're obviously very anxious about that."

This weekend's race will be an important test for Curlin as majority owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable and Asmussen consider a possible trip to France to run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Europe's top test for older horses on Oct. 5.

Asmussen would prefer the Man O' War for Curlin, who has won five consecutive races that include the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI), the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (GI), the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) and the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs. The 1 3/8-mile race Man O' War is expected to attract two other Breeders' Cup champions in Red Rocks, winner of the John Deere Turf (GI) at Churchill Downs in 2006, and Better Talk Now, winner of the Turf at Lone Star Park in 2004. Grand Couturier, winner of last year's Sword Dancer Invitational (GI) at Saratoga, is also expected to compete.

"That race is coming up fabulous," said Asmussen. "If you're going to venture overseas, you don't want to be kidding yourself about how good or bad you are on the turf."

If the licensing issue is resolved, Curlin would fly to New York on Thursday for Saturday's race at Belmont Park. If all goes well in the Man O' War and the Arc de Triomphe remains the target, Curlin would probably ship to Saratoga for a brief stay in Asmussen's barn there and travel to France shortly thereafter to train at Chantilly in the weeks leading up to the Arc.

"Hopefully it goes well, and you'd train him back to make sure you're okay," said Asmussen. "You're not going to start the process until you need to, but once you start the process it'll be like a wedding date - it'll be upon you before you know it."

Curlin's June 14 victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap improved his career record to 9-1-2 in 12 races and pushed his lifetime earnings to $9,396,800 - the third-highest North American total in Thoroughbred racing behind top earners Cigar ($9,999,815) and Skip Away ($9,616,360).

BARN TALK - Trainer Robert Holthus was accepting congratulations on Monday for the victory by IEAH Stable, Lewis G. Lakin and Pegasus Holdings Group's Pure Clan in the $750,000 American Oaks (GI) on Friday at Hollywood Park. Holthus said the daughter of Pure Prize, who finished third to Proud Spell in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), would remain on the turf for the rest of the year with her primary targets being the Del Mar Oaks (GI) and the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI) at Keeneland. ... Tom Walters' Elite Squadron, winner of the Churchill Downs Stakes (GII), was reported by trainer James Baker to be doing well following his runner-up finish in Saturday's Triple Bend (GI) at Hollywood Park. Baker said Elite Squadron would probably get a break and point toward a run in the Phoenix Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland in early fall.

 

WORK TAB (Track: FAST) - Pimlico Special (GI) winner Student Council breezed a half-mile in :52 . ... Chilukki (GII) winner Rolling Sea breezed four furlongs in :52.20. ... Dogwood (GIII) winner Acoma breezed six furlongs for trainer David Carroll in 1:13. ... Northern Dancer (GIII) and Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Pyro breezed five furlongs in 1:03.20. ... Corrupt, third in Churchill Downs' Opening Verse, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 in preparation for a possible run in Saturday's Arlington Park Handicap. ... Z Fortune breezed four furlongs in :53.20. ... Sky Mom breezed a half-mile in :51.60. ... Fantasy (GII) runner-up Alina breezed four furlongs in :52.40.

Albarado Earns First Churchill Downs Riding Title; Amoss, Ramseys Take Trainer/Owner Titles

Jockey Robby Albarado, a finalist for last year's Eclipse Award as America's leading jockey who ranks seventh among the all-time riding leaders at Churchill Downs, earned his first "leading rider" title under the historic Twin Spires as the home of the Kentucky Derby wrapped up its 52-day Spring Meet on Sunday, July 6. 

Trainer Tom Amoss won two races on the meet's closing day to nail down his second title of leading trainer, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey continued their assault on the Churchill Downs record book as the Nicholasville, Ky., couple won a record 13th "leading owner" crown. 

Albarado, 34, ended the meet with 73 victories. The highlight was clearly his victory aboard reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 14, but Albarado said earning his first "leading rider" crown since his arrival at Churchill Downs in 1996 was special. 

"It means a lot," Albarado said. "I know I'm at a point in my career where ‘leading rider' titles probably won't make a difference in my business that I've established, but it was one of my own personal goals, and I'm glad I got it accomplished here at Churchill." 

Albarado won his meet-leading 73 races from 287 mounts, a significantly smaller total than those of runner-up Miguel Mena, who won 65 races from 364 mounts. He is generally considered to be more selective in regard to the quality of the mounts he selects, but Albarado said his first championship meet belies that assumption. 

"I've been injured quite a few times, so I've got to be a little more selective," he said. "A lot of trainers think I don't give 100 percent on all of the horses, but I do. I've won $5,000 claiming races here this meet - I've won them all in all different areas of it. So it kind of instills a little confidence in the trainers also that I can ride seven or eight a day and make it happen." 

Albarado now has 753 career victories at Churchill Downs. Julien Leparoux, the riding leader in the 2007 Spring Meet, finished third with 56 victories and was followed by Calvin Borel (52), Jamie Theriot (48) and Shaun Bridgmohan (44). Six of Albarado's victories came in stakes competition, including a victory aboard Einstein in the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.

The New Orleans-born Amoss opened the meet on a hot streak and closed with a rush to collect his second "leading trainer" crown - and his first outright title. He had previously tied with Dale Romans for the Spring Meet title in 2002. Amoss' stable collected 35 victories from 87 starts - a 40 percent win rate for a barn in which 72 percent of its starters finished in the top three in their races. 

"We caught fire and we were able to keep it going all meet, which is truly a credit to everybody in the barn," Amoss said by telephone. "I've got probably five managerial people that have been with me for more than 15 years each, and this is a proud moment for all of us." 

Amoss wrapped up the meet with victories by Alfred Kent ($4) in the fifth race and Our Dancer ($7) in the 10th. The highlight of the Spring Meet for Amoss was a victory in the $125,000 Aristides (GIII) with Maggi Moss' Indian Chant. 

"This is a special feeling," said Amoss. "This is a prestigious meet. Not to take anything away from any of the other titles we've won, but this is big. It's really important to us and there's a great deal of satisfaction amongst everybody." 

The strong closing day performance by Amoss allowed him to pull away from runner-up Steve Asmussen, the 2007 Spring Meet leader who finished with 30 victories. Ken McPeek was next with 26 wins. 

The "leading owners" title for Ken and Sarah Ramsey was their record 13th overall and their seventh Spring Meet crown. They earned their first Churchill Downs Spring Meet title in 2000 and have taken seven of the nine spring titles since. The latest title allowed the Ramseys to tie legendary Calumet Farm's record for the most Spring Meet "leading owner" crowns. 

"Did you notice how long we're delaying leaving the winner's circle?" asked a beaming Ken Ramsey in special winner's circle ceremony. "It never gets old." 

Sarah Ramsey accompanied her husband to the winner's circle ceremony. Mrs. Ramsey was in a wheelchair as she made her first appearance at Churchill Downs since she suffered a stroke early last year. "She told me that if we won another ‘leading owner' title that she'd come to the track with me," Ken Ramsey said. 

The Ramseys horses finished with a record of 20-11-17 in 75 starts, which reflects a winning rate of 27 percent and 64 percent of their horses recorded top-three finishes. Maggi Moss, the leading owner in the 2007 Spring Meet, finished second with 15 wins while Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein were third with 10 victories. 

The 2008 Spring Meet got off of to a memorable, if bittersweet, start with a dominant 4 ¾-length victory by IEAH Stable and Paul Pompa Jr.'s Big Brown in the 134th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). The Derby victory was the third for jockey Kent Desormeaux and the first for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. But the day was marred by a fatal injury suffered by Fox Hill Farm's filly Eight Belles well past the finish of the "Run for the Roses." A crowd of 157,770 witnessed the Derby - the second-largest attendance in the history of the race. 

One day earlier Brereton C. Jones' Proud Spell scored an emphatic five-length victory in the 134th running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks. Kentucky native J. Larry Jones scored his first Oaks victory with the daughter of Proud Citizen, who was ridden by Gabriel Saez. Despite heavy rain that fell throughout the afternoon, a crowd of 100,046 attended the Oaks, which marked the 10th time in 11 years that Kentucky Oaks attendance had topped the 100,000 mark. 

Competing with those spectacular races for the honor of meet highlight was the 27th and richest running of the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) for 3-year-olds and up. Reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin cruised to an easy 4 ¼-length victory under Albarado in his first race since a victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) in March. Einstein finished second on the dirt in the Stephen Foster, and returned to finish second to Thorn Song in the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) on July 4. Other notable stakes efforts included wins in the Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) and Jefferson Cup (GII) by the 3-year-old turf start Tizdejavu, the meet's only two-time stakes winner; Intangaroo, who notched an upset in the Grade I Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day; Pure Clan in the Regret (GIII); Dreaming of Anna in the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII); Pyro in the Northern Dancer (GIII); Hystericalady in the Fleur de Lis (GII); Ginger Punch in the Louisville Stakes (GII); Elite Squadron in the Louisville Stakes (GII); Lattice in the Louisville Handicap (GIII); Acoma in the Dogwood; Say You Will in the Locust Grove (GIII); Garden District in the Debutante (GIII); and Screen Your Friend in the Bashford Manor (GIII).

 

Churchill Downs' 26-day Fall Meet is scheduled for Oct, 26-November 29.

With Career Milestone In Pocket, Borel Looks To A Calm Summer

As usual, Calvin Borel went about his business Sunday morning with a smile on his face.

Working horses for his brother Cecil, Borel was back at it with a milestone victory in his back pocket: career victory No. 4,500.

The victory, which made him the 32nd North American rider to reach 4,500, came aboard Screen Your Friend in the Bashford Manor (GIII) for Borel's first stakes win of the meet and 36th overall under the Twin Spires.

"I have liked him all along," said Borel, who has ridden the colt three times including his maiden score on June 4. "It was good to see him take that step up yesterday."

Borel, who hurt his knee when he came off a horse during training hours on June 13, is going to take some time off when the meet closes Sunday.

"I am going to ride a few weekends around the country, but for the most part just rest it over the summer," Borel said. "It is still a little sore."

Which means the climb to 5,000 wins will get off to a slow start.

"That's my next goal," said Borel, 41. "Hopefully I can get it in three years."

Presently, there are 22 North American riders in the 5,000-win club. Sitting just ahead of Borel on the all-time North American list is Kentuckian Don Brumfield with 4,573 victories.

 

SCREEN YOUR FRIEND DOING WELL AFTER BASHFORD MANOR WIN - William Carl's longshot Bashford Manor winner Screen Your Friend came out his victory in Saturday's stakes debut in good order according to Georgia Jackson, assistant to trainer Bernie Flint.

"He's doing good this morning," Jackson said. "It was a great way to end the meet for us. We started slow, but finished with nine wins."

Among the nine wins was a victory by Saltgrass Trail on June 11 that gave Flint his 400th score at Churchill Downs.

However, Flint was not able to enjoy either victory at the track because he was at home recovering from back surgery.

"He tried to get out here a couple of weeks ago, but those things just take time," Jackson said.

 

CHAMPION CURLIN SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY WORK - Reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin is scheduled to work on Monday at Churchill Downs in preparation for a scheduled debut on the turf next weekend either at Belmont Park or Arlington Park.

The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Smart Strike, an easy winner this year of the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) at Nad Al Sheba and the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs, is scheduled to work over the main track in Asmussen's second set of horses on Monday. Curlin should step onto the one-mile dirt oval at approximately 6:15 a.m. (EDT).

Curlin breezed seven furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:31.20 last Tuesday in his first training effort over the surface. With an eye toward a possible run in France's famed Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in early October, Asmussen plans for Curlin to make his turf debut on Saturday, July 12 in either the $500,000 Man O' War (GI) at Belmont or the $200,000 Arlington Park Handicap (GIII) at the Illinois track.

Published reports have had Asmussen leaning toward the New York race, but licensing issues related to the colt's minority ownership must be settled in either jurisdiction to allow the winner of the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (GI) to compete.

 

TOP RIDERS HEADED TO SARATOGA, PRESQUE ISLE - With the close of the 52-day Spring Meet on Sunday, the leading jockeys in the rider standings will be heading to various destinations.

Headed to Saratoga are leading rider Robby Albarado, Julien Leparoux, Shaun Bridgmohan and, for the first time, Jamie Theriot. Miguel Mena and Jesus Castanon, who have combined for 93 victories for agent Steve Elzey, will be headed to Presque Isle.

Leparoux, who guided Churchill Downs-based Pure Clan to victory in the American Oaks Invitational (GI) on Saturday for trainer Bob Holthus, will return to Hollywood Park this coming Saturday to ride Fab Oak Stable's Nownownow in the Grade II Swaps Stakes. Leparoux rode Nownownow to victory in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall at Monmouth Park.

Mena and Castanon leave Tuesday for Presque Isle, where Mena has mounts beginning Wednesday and Castanon on Thursday.

Larry Sterling Jr., who with 11 victories is tied for 11th in the rider standings, is going to Arlington Park to rejoin the Chicago circuit on which he has been a regular since 1998.

Other riders in the top 10 -- Corey Lanerie, Brian Hernandez Jr., and John McKee - are slated to go to Ellis Park, which is set for a belated opening on Friday, July 11.

"It's great to have a job," Hernandez said of the agreement reached that will preserve the meet at Ellis Park. "We got lucky."

 

TRAINER, JOCKEY TITLE CHASES DRIVE TO RESOLUTION - The race for leading trainer is down to a two-man race as both Tom Amoss and Steve Asmussen picked up a victory each on Saturday.

Amoss enters Sunday's final program with a 33-30 lead on Asmussen, but Asmussen has seven horses entered on the 11-race card to only three for Amoss.

Amoss is seeking his first outright title at Churchill Downs. A 46-year-old native of New Orleans, Amoss shared the 2002 Spring title with Dale Romans.

Asmussen, who enters Sunday's card with 299 career victories at Churchill Downs, won both trainer titles at Churchill Downs in 2007 in addition to the 2004 Spring title and Fall crowns in 2001 and 2004.

With two victories Saturday, Robby Albarado may have put a vise grip on his first leading rider title. Entering Sunday's card, Albarado holds a 70-63 lead over Miguel Mena, who was blanked on Saturday.

Albarado has seven mounts Sunday; Mena has 10.

 

BARN TALK - It's on to Saratoga for West Point Thoroughbreds' Phosphorescent, stylish winner of his career debut Saturday for trainer Dale Romans. A son of Rock Slide, Phosphorescent won the first six-furlong maiden race for 2-year-olds at the meet in 1:11.38. "He is going to run in one of those stakes at Saratoga," Romans said. Ironically, the winner of the first such race last summer was Pyro, who has turned into a three-time graded stakes winner. "I hope he is as good as Pyro," Romans said. ... The other half of the split baby race was won by Winchell Thoroughbreds' Zion in 1:11.89 for trainer Steve Asmussen. Winchell Thoroughbreds also owns Pyro. ... Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is two wins away from 4,500. He has four horses entered on Sunday. ... Trainer David Vance has 2,999 career victories. He has two horses entered on Sunday's card. "I'm ready for it, I just hope the horses are," Vance said Sunday morning regarding the 3,000 mark, a figure attained by 21 North American trainers.... Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who have locked up their 13th overall leading owner title, have four horses entered Sunday. The Ramseys have 19 winners this meet and they own the record 21 winners for a meet of 57 days or fewer.

 

WORK TAB - Arindel Farm's 2006 3-year-old filly champion Wait a While, pointing for the July 26 Diana Handicap (GI) at Saratoga, worked five furlongs on a "fast" track in 1:01.60 for trainer Todd Pletcher. ... West Point Thoroughbreds' Derby Trial winner Macho Again, runner-up in the Preakness (GI) and fifth in the Belmont Stakes (GI), worked a half-mile in :49.20 for trainer Dallas Stewart. ... Gainesway Thoroughbreds' Ocean Colors, the next-to-last foal of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

 

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through Saturday, July 5 Jockeys Starts 1-2-3

Robby Albarado 281 70-44-38

Miguel Mena 355 63-49-50

Julien Leparoux 298 54-55-49

Calvin Borel 294 51-42-38

Jamie Theriot 284 48-37-39

Shaun Bridgmohan 224 44-42-32

Jesus Castanon 268 30-28-31

Corey Lanerie 229 21-33-30

Brian Hernandez Jr. 202 18-29-23

John McKee 150 14-21-20

Trainers

Tom Amoss 84 33-15-13

Steve Asmussen 140 30-26-21

Ken McPeek 85 26-14-11

Mike Maker 70 20-14-11

Dale Romans 147 19-27-24

Ian Wilkes 54 15-13-7

Eddie Kenneally 64 12-10-10

Paul J. McGee 52 12-8-6

Greg Foley 68 10-10-9

Cody Autrey 56 10-9-11

Steve Margolis 50 10-7-11

Robert O'Connor II 23 10-3-4

D. Wayne Lukas 63 10-2-6

Bret Calhoun 26 10-2-5

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey 71 19-11-15

Maggi Moss 33 14-7-5

Zayat Stables, LLC 55 9-12-11

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 39 9-7-7

Jay Em Ess Stable 26 6-4-2

Heflin & Driver Racing 29 5-5-6

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 17 5-1-0

Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins

 

Thorn Song, Einstein Check Out Well After Firecracker

Zayat Stables' Thorn Song and Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green, Lessee's Einstein, the one-two finishers in Friday's $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII), were reported to be doing well Saturday morning by their connections.

"He came out of the race good," trainer Dale Romans said of Thorn Song, who gave Romans his third stakes victory of the meet, a total matched only by Steve Asmussen.

Romans will go for his fourth stakes win on Sunday when he sends out Jacks or Better Farm's Bayou's Lassie in the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII). Bayou's Lassie gave Romans one of his earlier stakes victories when she took the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) on Derby Day.

Romans stands fifth in the trainer standings with 17 wins, far below his average since 2000 of 29 during the Spring Meet. However, he has more seconds (27) and thirds (24) than any trainer at the meet.

"It hasn't been all that bad," said Romans, whose lowest spring total this decade was 18 wins in 2000. "We have won three stakes and the money's been good."

Trainer Helen Pitts said that Einstein was "ticked off that he lost. He hates to get beat."

Einstein is being pointed to the Aug. 9 Arlington Million (GI) at a mile and a quarter. The Firecracker was run at a mile and Thorn Song took the field wire to wire.

"The scratches (of Inca King and A.P. Xcellent) killed us," Pitts said. "But he ran good and got a piece of it. We've got five weeks now (until the Million) and he comes back at a distance he likes."

MILESTONES MAY AWAIT LUKAS, BOREL ON SATURDAY - Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby (GI) winner D. Wayne Lukas, bearing down on career victory 4,500, has three horses entered on Saturday's card.. Should Lukas not hit the milestone on Saturday, he will have four more chances on Sunday.

Sixth all-time in victories among North American trainers, Lukas' career total stood at 4,498 victories heading into Saturday's races at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Calvin Borel boosted his career win total to 4,496 on Friday's Independence Day card by riding two winners. Borel is named on nine mounts Saturday as he attempts to become the 34th North American rider to reach 4,500 victories.

Carl Pollard's Minewander finished eighth in Friday's eighth race, denying trainer David Vance the opportunity to become the 22nd North American trainer to reach 3,000 victories. Vance has no horses entered Saturday, but two on Sunday.

Vance's Sunday runners are Citizen John in the fourth and Northeast Harbor in the seventh. Both are owned by Pollard, with whom Vance teamed to score the biggest victory of his career: the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) with Caressing at Churchill Downs. The duo also teamed to win Churchill Downs' Humana Distaff (GI) in 2005 with My Trusty Cat.

WHIRLIE BERTIE READY TO MAKE THE NEXT STEP - Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein's Whirlie Bertie ran her win streak to three - all during the Churchill Downs Spring Meet - with a 1 ¾-length victory in Friday's eighth race. The victory has the Kleins and trainer Steve Margolis eagerly looking ahead.

"This is a nice filly," Margolis said. "We are thinking about the Monmouth Oaks (a Grade III event on Aug. 9) or maybe the Alabama (at Saratoga on Aug. 16). One is five weeks and one is six."

Whirlie Bertie got in to Friday's non-winners of three lifetime allowance test when the mile and a sixteenth race was moved to the main track.

"If she had not run yesterday, we had nominated her to the Serena's Song, a small stake at Monmouth on July 13," Margolis said.

In winning her first two starts at Churchill Downs, Whirlie Bertie had scored in wire-to-wire fashion. On Friday, she stalked the pace under Shaun Bridgmohan and then repulsed several challenges in the stretch.

"She got a little hot in the paddock, but once we put the saddle on her, she was OK," Margolis said. "The thing I liked was how she responded when challenged. In her other two races, she won as she pleased, but yesterday Shaun put her in a good spot and when Neil's horse (Highest Class trained by Neil Howard) came to her, she took off again.

"Her dam (Grade II winner De Bertie) was a dead closer and Bert thought she would be like that. But she has tactical speed ... that's the Stormin Fever ... and that's a big advantage."

A run at the Alabama would offer the Kleins a chance at some Saratoga redemption. In 2002, their Allamerican Bertie set the pace in the mile and a quarter event before being collared in deep stretch by Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner and eventual 3-year-old filly champion Farda Amiga, who won by three-quarters of a length.

ALBARADO, AMOSS OPEN BREATHING ROOM IN RACES FOR TOP RIDER, TRAINER - Jockey Robby Albarado opened a little breathing room in his quest for his first riding title at Churchill Downs with a victory aboard Forest Command in Friday's ninth race.

Albarado's nearest competitor, Miguel Mena, was blanked on Friday's card and enters Saturday's 11-race program trailing Albarado 68-63. Both riders have 10 mounts each on Saturday's card, while on Sunday, Mena has 10 mounts to Albarado's seven.

Albarado, a finalist for the 2007 Eclipse Award for America's top jockey, has perennially been one of Churchill Downs' top jockeys since his arrival at the historic track in 1996, but has never won riding crown under the Twin Spires.

Tom Amoss increased his lead over Steve Asmussen to 32-29 in the race for leading trainer with the victory by Cactus Conie in Friday's third race. However, it may not have been the knockout punch Amoss was seeking from his four Friday entrants on a day when Asmussen and Ken McPeek (with 26 wins) had only one starter each.

Asmussen has seven entrants and McPeek six on Saturday's card; Amoss has two. On Sunday's closing 11-race program, Asmussen has seven entrants; Amoss and McPeek three each.

BARN TALK - Trainer Dallas Stewart was all smiles Saturday morning after Silverfoot's victory in the Grade III Stars and Stripes on Friday at Arlington Park. The victory snapped a 10-race losing streak for the 8-year-old gelding that dated back to the 2006 Louisville Handicap, which he won for the third time. "The White Horse!," Stewart exclaimed. "He has been training like a winner all along and doing the right things. He had just been a victim of paceless races with :51 and :52 halves." On Friday Silverfoot, owned by Chrysalis Stables, got a :49.40 half-mile pace and rallied to score a two-length victory. ... Running last in the Stars and Stripes as the favorite was Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's Lattice, trained by Al Stall Jr. "He vanned all night back to Keeneland and we'll go over and check him out," Stall said. "Julien (jockey Julien Leparoux) said he didn't have any horse." ... Bill Troilo's victory in Friday's nightcap aboard Who Done That gave the 47-year-old native of Philadelphia his 255th career win at Churchill Downs. That ties him with Craig Perret for 19th all time. Lurking right behind with 252 victories at Churchill Downs is Julien Leparoux, who is riding Pure Clan for trainer Bob Holthus in Saturday's American Oaks Invitational (GI) at Hollywood Park. Leparoux is scheduled back for closing day on Sunday when he is named on nine mounts on the 11-race card. ... Kent Desormeaux's victory aboard Thorn Song in the Firecracker Handicap was his 15th stakes victory at Churchill Downs, a total that includes three Kentucky Derby victories (Real Quiet, 1998; Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000; Big Brown, 2008). It also was the 4,496th victory of his Hall of Fame career. A total of 22 North American riders have reached the 5,000-win plateau.

WORK TAB - Zayat Stables' Eaton's Gift, winner of the Grade II Swale Stakes this winter, worked a half-mile over a "good" track in :49.20 for trainer Dale Romans. ... Racecar Rhapsody, fourth in the Preakness (GI) in his most recent start, worked five furlongs in 1:03 for trainer Ken McPeek. Other 3-year-olds working for McPeek were Miller Cradle winner Old Man Buck and Colonial Turf Cup (GIII) runner-up Nistle's Crunch, who both worked six furlongs in 1:13.20.

 

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through Friday, July 4

 

Jockeys Starts 1-2-3

Robby Albarado 271 68-43-37

Miguel Mena 346 63-48-49

Julien Leparoux 298 54-55-49

Jamie Theriot 275 48-37-38

Calvin Borel 285 47-42-38

Shaun Bridgmohan 215 43-40-28

Jesus Castanon 260 28-28-31

Corey Lanerie 220 19-31-29

Brian Hernandez Jr. 193 17-29-20

John McKee 150 14-21-20

Trainers

Tom Amoss 82 32-15-13

Steve Asmussen 133 29-24-19

Ken McPeek 79 26-13-10

Mike Maker 66 20-13-9

Dale Romans 143 17-27-24

Ian Wilkes 52 16-13-7

Eddie Kenneally 63 12-10-10

Paul J. McGee 52 12-8-6

Cody Autrey 56 10-9-11

Greg Foley 66 10-9-9

D. Wayne Lukas 60 10-2-5

Four (4) trainers tied at nine (9) wins

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey 67 19-10-13

Maggi Moss 32 13-7-5

Zayat Stables, LLC 53 9-12-11

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 38 8-7-7

Jay Em Ess Stable 23 6-4-2

Heflin & Driver Racing 29 5-5-6

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 17 5-1-0

Six (6) owners tied at four (4) wins

 

 

 

 

Champion Wait a While Bound for Saratoga's Grade I Diana

Arindel Farm's Wait a While, who has not run since winning the San Gorgonio Handicap (GII) on Jan. 14 at Santa Anita, is headed to Saratoga for the July 26 Diana Handicap (GI) at a mile and an eighth on the turf according to Mike McCarthy, assistant trainer to Todd Pletcher.

The champion 3-year-old filly of 2006, Wait a While developed a callous on her left front tibia in March while training at Santa Anita. She came to Churchill Downs in the spring with McCarthy when Pletcher shipped his winter California contingent east.

The 5-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon reappeared on the work tab for the first time since the injury on June 15, when she breezed three furlongs in :37.20 on the main track. She has followed that move with :49.80 main track works on June 22 and June 29.

"We are going to be shipping horses back and forth (to Saratoga)," McCarthy said. "I imagine we would ship her up right before she runs. She will work here and then ship."

Wait a While finished third to longshot Lemons Forever in the 2006 Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs, but stakes on turf in the American Oaks (GI) and Yellow Ribbon (GI) and Davona Dale (GII) on dirt earned Pletcher's filly the Eclipse Award as the champion 3-year-old filly.

She has a career record of 10-3-4 in 20 races with earnings of $1,819,917.

'VACATION' ALMOST OVER FOR VETERAN BRASS HAT - Fred Bradley's millionaire gelding Brass Hat is slated to return to the track "in a couple of weeks" according to trainer William "Buff" Bradley.

Brass Hat has been at the family farm in Frankfort, Ky., for a break after finishing fifth in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).

"He will have had about three weeks at the farm," Buff Bradley said. "He has been doing great, spending a lot of time outdoors. It hasn't been too hot like it usually is this time of year."

Bradley said the next major objective for Brass Hat is the Sept. 20 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs with a prep race at Mountaineer in August to serve as Brass Hat's return to the races.

The 7-year-old Prized gelding has a career record of 8-5-1 in 26 races with earnings of $1,790,314.

The horse that finished just head of Brass Hat in the Stephen Foster, W.S. Farish, Edward Hudson Jr. and James Elkins III's Grasshopper is headed to Saratoga according to trainer Neil Howard.

"He's doing fine," Howard said of the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) winner who has been back on the work tab since the Stephen Foster. "I am looking at an overnight handicap on Aug. 9 for him."

Grasshopper won the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) at Fair Grounds earlier this year and has a career record of 4-51 in 12 races with earnings of $685,352.

RAMSEYS MAKE RUN AT HISTORY - With their 13th owners title safely secured at Churchill Downs, Ken and Sarah Ramsey are basically running against themselves in the historic track's record book.

The Ramseys have 19 winners through the first 49 days of the 52-day Spring Meet that closes on Sunday. The record for victories at a Spring Meet of 57 days or fewer is 21, established by the Ramseys in 2006.

Along with the Ramseys' reshaping of the Churchill Downs record book, the Artemus, Ky., natives earned the Eclipse Award that honored America's top breeder in 2004. That was the season their 3-year-old homebred Kitten's Joy earned an Eclipse Award as the nation's champion turf runner. They own Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., where they stand Kitten's Joy and Catienus, the sire of the Grade I winner Precious Kitten.

The all-time single season record for wins by an owner in the Churchill Downs Spring Meet is 27, set by A.J. Foyt Jr. in 1984. The year before, Cal Partee won the owners title with 25 victories, but both of those meets were extended sessions that covered 93 days.

The Ramseys have no horses entered on Friday's card, but have four each on the Saturday and Sunday programs that will wrap up the Spring Meet.

BARN TALK - Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' first two-win day of the Spring Meet on Thursday raised his career victory total to 4,498. Lukas has one horse scheduled to run Friday, but not at Churchill Downs. That would be Silver Edition in the Grade III Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth Park. Lukas has three horses entered at Churchill Downs on Saturday in his bid to hit the 4,500 mark. The win total by the four-time Kentucky Derby winner ranks as sixth best all time. ... Calvin Borel's victory aboard Edmund Gann's You and I Forever in Thursday's 10th race raised his career win total to 4,494. Borel is named on eight mounts Friday in his bid to become the 34th North American rider with 4,500 victories. ... The race for leading trainer remained unchanged Thursday with Tom Amoss retaining a two-victory advantage over Steve Asmussen (31-29) with Ken McPeek third with 26 wins. Amoss has five horses entered on Friday; Asmussen and McPeek have two each. Asmussen lost what would have been his 299th Churchill Downs victory when That's a Good Thing was disqualified for interference in the stretch of the fourth race. ... Miguel Mena gained a little more ground on Robby Albarado in the race for leading rider by picking up two wins on Thursday's card to one for Albarado. Albarado holds a 67-63 edge on Mena entering Friday's card in which Albarado has nine mounts and Mena 10. ... Jockey Kent Desormeaux picked up career victory No. 4,995 on Thursday at Belmont Park. The three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider has five mounts at Churchill Downs on Friday, including a ride aboard Zayat Stable's Thorn Song in the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII). A total of 22 North American jockeys have reached the 5,000-win plateau.

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through Thursday, July 3

Jockeys (Starts 1-2-3)

1. Robby Albarado (262 67-41-35)
2. Miguel Mena (337 63-48-45)
3. Julien Leparoux (298 54-55-49)
4. Jamie Theriot (268 48-36-36)
5. Calvin Borel (277 45-41-38)
6. Shaun Bridgmohan (210 42-39-27)
7. Jesus Castanon (251 27-25-30)
8. Corey Lanerie (216 19-30-28)
9. Brian Hernandez Jr. (188 16-29-20)
10. John McKee (145 12-21-20)

Trainers

1. Tom Amoss (78 31-15-12)
2. Steve Asmussen (132 29-24-19)
3. Ken McPeek (77 26-13-8)
4. Mike Maker (66 20-13-9)
5. Dale Romans (139 16-27-24)
6. Ian Wilkes (51 15-12-7)
7. Eddie Kenneally (62 12-10-10)
8. Cody Autrey (56 10-9-11)
-. Greg Foley (64 10-9-8)
-. Paul J. McGee (50 10-8-6)
-. D. Wayne Lukas 60 10-2-5)
Two (2) trainers tied at nine (9) wins

Owners

1. Ken and Sarah Ramsey (67 19-10-13)
2. Maggi Moss (29 12-7-4)
3. Zayat Stables, LLC (51 8-12-11)
4. Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein (36 7-7-7)
5. Heflin & Driver Racing (29 5-5-6)
-. Jay Em Ess Stable (22 5-4-2)
-. Heiligbrodt Racing Stable (17 5-1-0)
Six (6) owners tied at four (4) wins

Graded Stakes Winners Head Churchill's Closing-Day Locust Grove 'Cap

Three graded stakes winners – Brownie Points, Bayou’s Lassie and Meribel – headline a field of 10 entered Thursday for the 27th running of the $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (Grade III), a one-mile event on the Matt Winn Turf Course for fillies and mares and the centerpiece of Sunday’s closing day card of the 52-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.

The Locust Grove, which will be run at a mile on turf for the first time, will go as the ninth race on Sunday’s 11-race card that begins with a 1:15 p.m. (EDT) first post.

Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points will carry high weight of 120 for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. Winner of the Ouija Board Handicap (GIII) at Lone Star Park in her most recent start, will be ridden by Luis Quinonez and break from post position two. The versatile daughter of Forest Wildcat earlier finished second to Zenyatta in the $500,000 Apple Blossom (GI) on the main track at Oaklawn Park. The homebred Brownie Points has won eight of 22 races – with five wins on turf – and has earned $906,309.

Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou’s Lassie, upset winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day, is the next high weight at 119 pounds. Trained by Dale Romans, Bayou’s Lassie has won six of 11 turf starts will be ridden by Robby Albarado from post position five. Runnymede Farm’s Meribel, now in the barn of trainer Helen Pitts, will carry 118 pounds and be ridden by Calvin Borel as she breaks from post position six. Meribel accounted for the Grade III Valley View Stakes in 2006 over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface and since has placed in graded stakes races on turf.

Mauralakana won the 2007 Locust Grove under Julien Leparoux, who will bid for back-to-back scores in the race when he rides Godolphin Racing’s Say You Will. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the A.P. Indy filly is graded-stakes placed on synthetic surfaces and has won two of three grass starts. She will break from the outside post.

The field for the Locust Grove, from the hedge out, is as follows: James Barry’s Genuine Devotion (Alan Garcia, 115 pounds); Brownie Points (Luis Quinonez, 120); Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and John Sikura’s New Edition (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115); Richard Shultz’s Lemonlime (Willie Martinez, 117); Bayou’s Lassie (Robby Albarado, 119); Meribel (Calvin Borel, 116); Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl (Miguel Mena, 114); Briland Farm’s Grace Happens (Brian Hernandez Jr., 112); Peter Bradley III’s Tears I Cry (Jamie Theriot, 117); and, Say You Will (Julien Leparoux, 115).

Pitts Looking For Holiday Weekend Stakes Sweep

Trainer Helen Pitts was already looking to have an explosive Fourth of July holiday weekend with her stable star Einstein headed for Friday’s Firecracker Handicap (GII). An added bonus could come in Sunday’s one-mile Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) with Meribel. 

Owned by Catesby Clay’s Runnymede Farm, Meribel came to the Pitts barn about six weeks ago. Her two races this year include a close third-place finish to Dreaming of Anna in Endeavor (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs and a fourth in Keeneland’s Doubledogdare (GIII).

“They tried to breed her,” Pitts said of Meribel, who last ran in the April 18 Doubledogdare (GIII) at Keeneland. “She is a lovely filly and great to be around.”

Pitts described the acclimation process for a new arrival in her barn.

“I like to give them a couple of weeks to adapt to their new surroundings,” Pitts said. “Then when you work them, you get an idea of what you have.”

Meribel had her first work for Pitts on June 22, an easy half-mile on the dirt in :51. On Tuesday, Meribel worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on the turf that had Pitts thinking about the Locust Grove.

“Her last work was great,” Pitts said Thursday morning. “Right now, I am planning on running. It is a just a mile off a layoff and after that, we’ll see.”

Previously trained by Christophe Clement, Meribel has compiled a career record of 6-2-7 in 22 races for earnings of $462,398. She won the 2006 Valley View (GIII) over Polytrack at Keeneland – beating future Grade I winner Precious Kitten – and has placed in four other graded stakes. Her lone Grade I try resulted in a fourth place finish in last year’s Diana at Saratoga in which she was beaten less than two lengths by My Typhoon.

The $150,000-added Locust Grove would be the second start for Meribel over the Matt Winn Turf Course. She finished sixth, beaten two lengths by Precious Kitten, in the 2006 Mrs. Revere (GII). That race was at 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which she has done most of her racing.

Sunday’s running of the Locust Grove will be the first at the mile distance since it was moved to the turf course in 1987. It had been run at 1 1/8 miles since 1990.

DESORMEAUX RETURNS ON FRIDAY, NEARING 5,000-WIN MARK – Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Kent Desormeaux will be back at Churchill Downs on Friday to ride Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song in the Firecracker Handicap (GII) in addition to four other mounts.

Desormeaux entered the Thursday card at Belmont Park with 4,994 wins, six shy of becoming the 23rd rider in North American to reach the 5,000-win plateau. He was scheduled to ride two horses on Thursday.

In addition to winning this year’s Kentucky Derby aboard Big Brown, Desormeaux also scored wins in the Run for the Roses in 1998 with Real Quiet and 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus.

A few other milestones are within reach on Thursday’s card at Churchill Downs.

Trainer David Vance will send out Doubleband in the second race. With a victory, Vance would become the 22nd North American trainer to achieve 3,000 victories.

Jockey Calvin Borel, who rode one winner on Wednesday, is seven victories away from becoming the 34th rider in North America to reach 4,500 wins. Borel’s victory on Wednesday came aboard Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Coach Ryan in the eighth race. Borel has six mounts Thursday.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will saddle four horses Thursday in his quest to become the sixth trainer in North American to reach 4,500 victories. Lukas currently stands at 4,496.

RAMSEYS CLINCH RECORD 13TH ‘LEADING OWNER’ TITLE – With the regard to the chase for the leading owner of the 52-day Churchill Downs Spring Meet, just say that the fat lady is in full-throated song.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who had combined to win a record 12 owners titles at Churchill Downs, extended that mark to 13 with a pair of victories on Wednesday’s racing program.

Those victories opened a seven-win lead (19-12) over Maggi Moss, who was the leading owner of the 2007 Spring Meet and has only five horses entered races over the current meet’s final four days. The Ramseys’ title-clinching victories on Wednesday were supplied by Duty Roster in sixth race and Self Made Man, who added win No. 19 in the seventh race.

The wins by the Ramsey runners were part of a big day for trainer Mike Maker. He also saddled Rollin Fishback and Charles Logsdon’s Kippersol to victory in the third race to become the third trainer of the meet to enjoy a three-win day. Others who accomplished the triple were Ken McPeek on May 24 and Steve Asmussen on June 19.

The Ramseys won nine consecutive meet titles (Spring 2000-04, Fall 2000-03) en route to their record overall haul of 13.

BARN TALK – Miguel Mena apparently will not let Robby Albarado coast to his first riding title at Churchill Downs. Mena rode four winners Wednesday to slice Albarado’s lead in race for leading jockey to 66-61 with four days left in the 52-day meet. Mena has nine mounts on Thursday’s card and Albarado has seven. … Tom Amoss extended his lead in the race for leading trainer to 31-29 over Steve Asmussen thanks to the victory by Coach Ryan in Wednesday’s eighth race. Amoss has one horse entered Thursday; Asmussen two. Ken McPeek, who is third with 26 winners, was scheduled to saddle four runners on Thursday.

WORK TAB (Turf: FIRM) – Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl, prepping for Sunday’s Locust Grove Handicap (GIII), breezed three furlongs around the dogs on “firm” turf Thursday morning in :37.60. … Ballymore Lady, runner-up in the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) for trainer Eddie Kenneally, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20.

 
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Wednesday, July 2

Jockeys (Starts 1-2-3)

1. Robby Albarado (255 66-39-32)
2. Miguel Mena (328 61-47-45)
3. Julien Leparoux (289 52-54-49)
4. Jamie Theriot (260 47-35-34)
5. Calvin Borel (271 44-40-38)
6. Shaun Bridgmohan (204 41-38-26)
7. Jesus Castanon (243 26-25-29)
8. Corey Lanerie (209 18-27-27)
9. Brian Hernandez Jr. (186 15-29-20)
10. John McKee (143 12-21-20)

Trainers

1. Tom Amoss (77 31-14-12)
2. Steve Asmussen (131 29-23-19)
3. Ken McPeek (73 26-13-7)
4. Mike Maker (65 20-13-9)
5. Dale Romans (134 15-27-23)
6. Ian Wilkes (49 14-12-7)
7. Eddie Kenneally (61 12-10-10)
8. Cody Autrey (56 10-9-11)
9. Greg Foley (61 9-9-8)
-. Todd Pletcher (47 9-5-7)
-. Bret Calhoun 24 9-2-4
Six (6) trainers tied at eight (8) wins

Owners

1. Ken and Sarah Ramsey (64 19-10-13)
2. Maggi Moss (29 12-7-4)
3. Zayat Stables, LLC (51 8-12-11)
4. Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein (36 7-7-7)
5. Heflin & Driver Racing (29 5-5-6)
-. Heiligbrodt Racing Stable (17 5-1-0)
Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins

Asmussen Saddles Pair in Search of Back-to-Back Bashford Manor Wins

Trainer Steve Asmussen will be gunning for back-to-back victories in Churchill Downs’ $150,000-added Bashford Manor Stakes (Grade III) when he sends out two of the eight horses entered in Saturday’s 107th running of the six-furlong test for 2-year-olds on the main track.

Representing the Asmussen stable in the Bashford Manor will be Padua Stables’ Segal, who will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and breaks from post position five, and J. Kirk Robison’s Lyin’ Heart, who will have Corey Lanerie in the saddle and will start from post seven.

Asmussen teamed with Lanerie to win last year’s Bashford Manor with Vinery Stables’ Kodiak Kowboy, who would eventually be named Canada’s 2-year-old champion and would finish third to Eclipse Award champion War Pass and Asmussen-trained stablemate Pyro in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Monmouth Park. Asmussen had earlier won the Bashford Manor in 2004 with Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Lunarpal and endured near-misses in the race with eventual Grade I winner Cuvee, a troubled third in 2003, and future Grade II winner Posse, the runner-up in 2002.

Lyin’ Heart, a son of 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart, is the only multiple winner in the field. Lyin’ Heart broke his maiden at Lone Star Park going five furlongs on May 23 and followed up that score 15 days later by winning the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity at Lone Star. Segal broke his maiden at first asking on May 7 at Churchill Downs going 4 ½ furlongs. He followed that victory with a third-place finish in the Victoria Stakes over Woodbine’s Polytrack surface on June 15.

A victory by Segal would give Padua Stable sole possession of the record for Bashford Manor wins by an owner. Padua took three consecutive Bashford Manor runnings from 1998-2000 with Time Bandit, Dance Master and Duality to tie Milky Way Farm (1936, ’37 and ’41) and T. Alie Grissom (1957, ’61 and ’69) for that record.

The field for the 107th Bashford Manor, from the rail out, is as follows: William Carl’s Screen Your Friend (Calvin Borel, 118 pounds); Kevin Chessen and Wesley Ward’s Silver Bayer (Jesus Castanon, 118); Samotowka Stables and Magdalena Racing’s Theregoesjojo (Robby Albarado, 118); Richard Ravin and Larry Rivelli’s My Dominick James (Tim Thornton, 118); Segal (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118); Thomas McCarthy’s General Quarters (Bill Troilo, 116); Lyin’ Heart (Corey Lanerie, 120); and, Paul Giacopelli and Donnie Kelly’s Medaglia D’Onore (Mick Ruis, 118).

Three-Time Grade I Winner Einstein Faces Six in Firecracker Handicap

 

SIX TO LINE UP AGAINST EINSTEIN IN FIRECRACKER – Trainer Helen Pitts’ turf star Einstein will go for his fourth grass victory of 2008 on Friday when he faces six rivals in the 19th running of the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) to be run at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

            The Firecracker will go as the 10th race on the 11-race holiday card. First post time is 1:15 p.m. (EDT).

Second in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on dirt to 2007 “Horse of the Year” Curlin on June 14 in his most recent start, Einstein will carry high weight of 124 pounds and concede 7-10 pounds to his Firecracker foes. Robby Albarado, who rode Einstein to victory in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs, has the call Friday and will break from post position three.

            Owned by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green, Lessee, Einstein also won the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf this winter and ran second to 2007 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner Kip Deville in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland.

            The main rival to Einstein appears to be Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Inca King, who is undefeated in three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course.

            Trained by Steve Asmussen, Inca King posted a front-running victory in the May 31 Opening Verse Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth in his most recent start and last year won the Grade II Jefferson Cup during the Spring Meet and the Commonwealth Turf in the Fall Meet. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Inca King who breaks from post position seven under a 118-pound impost.

            The field for the Firecracker, from the hedge out, is as follows: Mrs. S.K. Johnston Jr., Marco Bommarito and the Molly Malone Racing Club’s A.P. Xcellent (Larry Melancon, 116 pounds); Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song (Kent Desormeaux, 118); Einstein (Robby Albarado, 124); Terry Raymond. Jana Wagner and Gus Goldsmith’s Faith’s Magic (Brian Hernandez Jr., 116); Stud TNT’s Portuga (Calvin Borel, 115); Oxbow Racing’s Steve’s Double (Miguel Mena, 115); and, Inca King (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118). 

DREAMING OF ANNA ASSIGNED TOP WEIGHT FOR LOCUST GROVE – Frank Calabrese’s champion filly Dreaming of Anna has been assigned the top weight of 124 pounds for the 27th running of the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII), to be run on closing day, July 6.

Winner of the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) on June 14, Dreaming of Anna – the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006 – is not expected to compete in the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.

Assigned the second high weight of 121 pounds by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman was Ben McElroy’s Roshani. The Todd Pletcher trainee is considered as “possible” for the Locust Grove.

Expected to be the starting high weight in the Locust Grove is Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points, who was assigned 120 pounds. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Brownie Points won the Ouija Board Handicap (GIII) in her most recent start on May 26 at Lone Star Park and arrived at Churchill Downs from the Texas track on Tuesday.

Other expected starters, with weight assignments, are Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou Lassie (119), Richard Shultz’s Lemonlime (117), Godolphin Racing’s Say You Will (115), James Barry’s Genuine Devotion (115), Peter Bradley’s Tears I Cry (115), Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl (114) and Briland Farm’s Grace Happens (112).

            Three other mares are considered as “possible”: Runnymede Farm’s Meribel (118), Swettenham Stud’s Paris Winds (118) and Pegasus Horses’ Ballymore Lady (114).   

BOREL SET FOR RETURN, CLOSES ON MILESTONE – Jockey Calvin Borel is expected to be back in the saddle Wednesday afternoon after taking off all mounts Sunday because of a sore knee.

            “He worked five horses Sunday morning, but his knee swelled and he had it drained,” agent Jerry Hissam said of Borel, who suffered a swollen ligament in his knee after coming off a horse during training hours on June 13. “He gave it a couple days rest, but he’ll be back Wednesday.”

 Borel enters Wednesday’s card with 4,492 career victories, which is 34th best all time. He is named to ride six horses Wednesday and six on Thursday. He has 43 victories this meet, good for fifth in the rider standings.

            “He lost two of the eight he needs (to get to 4,500) on Sunday,” Hissam said referring to the mounts Borel took off that won on the card.

            Hissam said after the meet ends on Sunday Borel will head to New York for the July 12 Man o’ War (GI) to ride Marc Keller’s Grand Couturier, whom he rode to victory in last year’s Sword Dancer Invitational (GI) at Saratoga. 

NEXT WORK TO DETERMINE COURSE FOR ACOMA – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Dogwood (GIII) winner Acoma worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Monday morning for trainer David Carroll. It was her third work since winning the May 31 Dogwood.

            “She worked very well,” Carroll said of the 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker. “She is going to either the Delaware Oaks or the Coaching Club American Oaks and her work next Monday will likely determine which one.”

            The $500,000 Delaware Oaks (GII) is run at a mile and a sixteenth on July 12 at Delaware Park. The $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) is run at a mile and a quarter on July 19 at Belmont Park.

            Also appearing on the work tab for Carroll on Monday was Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Denis of Cork, the third-place finisher to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and winner of the Southwest Stakes (GIII).  In his first work since his runner-up finish in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (GI), Denis of Cork worked a half-mile in :50.

            “He went very nice,” Carroll said. “He is on track for the Jim Dandy (GII on July 27 at Saratoga). He is on a Monday work schedule, weather permitting.”

 
BARN TALK – Eliah and Lisa Kahn are the only owners of multiple winners at the Spring Meet to be batting a thousand: Four starters; four winners. On Thursday, the streak either will end or extend to six. Trainer Ken McPeek has entered Perfect Motion for the Kahns in the sixth race, a one-mile turf allowance event, and Subscriber in the 10th, a mile and a sixteenth allowance race. Perfect Motion, who has not run since Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park, finished fourth last November in her lone start over the Matt Winn Turf Course. Subscriber has posted victories here this meet on May 24 and June 8. …  Sunday’s second race produced the 15th dead heat of the meet, but the first for the win. R.J. Thoroughbred Stables’ Ready’s Rocket finished on even terms with Frank Vozel’s Canali, trained by David Vance. The victory was the first of two for Vance on Sunday. TBS Farms’ This Kat Talks won the fifth race to boost Vance’s career total to 2,999 and 296 under the Twin Spires, ninth-best all time at Churchill Downs. Vance’s first chance to become the 22nd member of the 3,000-win club is slated to come Thursday when Doubleband goes to the post in the second race for TBS Farms. … Steve Asmussen, who saddled two winners on Sunday, now has 298 career victories at Churchill Downs. His career total of 4,252 ranks eighth all time and last week he passed Hall of Famer Ron McAnally for sixth all time in earnings at $120,343,848 through June 30. McAnally’s horses have earned $120,123,495. … Another trainer approaching a milestone is Hall of Famer and four-time Kentucky Derby-winner D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas, who has saddled eight winners this meet, has 4,496 for his career through June 30, sixth best all time. The leading trainer all time in money won ($250,703,543), Lukas has two horses entered at Churchill Downs on Wednesday and four on Thursday. 

WORK TAB (Track: FAST) –  Ronald Kirk, John Bates and Michael Riordan’s Run Away and Hide, winner of the May 1 Kentucky Stakes (GIII), worked five furlongs in 1:04.60 over a “fast” track for trainer Ronny Werner on Wednesday. … On Tuesday, Maggi Moss’ Indian Chant tuned up for his engagement in the July 12 Smile Sprint Handicap (GII) at Calder by working a bullet half-mile in :47.40 over a “fast” track for trainer Tom Amoss. … Other Tuesday works of note on the main track were W.S. Farish, Edward Hudson Jr. and Inwood Stable’s Grasshopper, winner of the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) and fourth in the recent Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), a half-mile in :50.40; Uptown Racing’s Boss Lafitte, winner of Keeneland’s Transylvania Stakes (GIII), a half-mile in :50; and, Briland Farm’s Grace Happens, working toward Sunday’s Locust Grove, a half-mile in :50.40. … In his first work since a runner-up finish in the June 14 Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII), B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie worked a half-mile in :52.40 over a “fast” track on Monday. ...  (Turf: FIRM, dogs up) – Heading the roster of Tuesday turf works were several horses that were prepping for closing weekend stakes appearances on the Matt Winn Turf Course.  Zayat Stables’ River City Handicap (GIII) winner Thorn Song breezed a half-mile in :50.60 in advance of his run in Friday’s Firecracker. … Peter Bradley’s Locust Grove contender Tears I Cry breezed a half-mile in :51.20. … Jacks or Better Farm’s Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) winner Bayou’s Lassie breezed a half-mile in :52 for the Locust Grove. … Runnymede Farm’s Locust Grove contender Meribel worked five-eighths in 1:01.40.

 

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

         Through Sunday, June 29

 

Jockeys                          Starts   1-2-3

 

Robby Albarado                  248  64-36-31

Miguel Mena                       321   57-47-46

Julien Leparoux                  284   51-54-49

Jamie Theriot                     254   46-35-34

Calvin Borel                        265  43-39-38

Shaun Bridgmohan             198   41-36-25

Jesus Castanon                   236   26-25-28

Corey Lanerie                    205   18-26-26

Brian Hernandez Jr.            184   15-29-19

John McKee                       142   12-21-20

Trainers

Tom Amoss                       75   30-13-12

Steve Asmussen                128  29-22-18

Ken McPeek                        70    26-12-6

Mike Maker                        61    17-13-9

Dale Romans                    132   15-27-23

Ian Wilkes                          48    14-12-7

Eddie Kenneally                  61   12-10-10

Cody Autrey                       54     9-9-11

Greg Foley                          61     9-9-8

Todd Pletcher                     47      9-5-7

Bret Calhoun                       24     9-2-4

Six (6) trainers tied at eight (8) wins     

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey         61   17-10-13

Maggi Moss                         28     12-6-4

Zayat Stables, LLC                50    8-12-11

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein   36     7-7-7

Heflin & Driver Racing           28     5-5-6

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable       17     5-1-0

    Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins