Churchill Downs

Racecar Rhapsody Sold, Scratched from Wednesday Race

 

RACECAR RHAPSODY SOLD, SCRATCHED FROM WEDNESDAY RACE – Racecar Rhapsody, a 3-year-old son of Tale of the Cat who ran fourth to Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner Big Brown in the Preakness (GI), was scratched from Wednesday’s seventh race at Churchill Downs after the colt was purchased by new owners.

            Trainer Ken McPeek would not disclose the name of the new owner or any details on the deal, but said Racecar Rhapsody “looks to be going to Dubai.”

            Racecar Rhapsody was the even-money morning line favorite in the seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race for 3-year-olds.  The colt has a career record of 1-1-1 in seven races and earnings of $208,391, but his last three races resulted in solid fourth place finishes in top 3-year-old competition.  He finished fourth to Adriano in the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (GII) at Turfway Park in his 2008 debut, and then lost to Behindattthebar in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (GII) at Keeneland and Big Brown in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico.

            The colt – who was previously owned by former Turfway Park owner Jerry Carroll, Stan Kaplan, Ronald Plattner and Mark Guilfoyle – had finished third to Anak Nakal last fall in the $250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) at Churchill Downs and finished fourth behind dead-heat winners Turf War and Z Humor in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (GIII) at Delta Downs.           

            “This was a good deal for Jerry and his partners,” McPeek said by telephone from Lexington.  “We hate not to run him, but all this came together after he had been entered in this race.”

            McPeek ranked second in the “leading trainer standings” heading into Wednesday’s racing at Churchill Downs.  With three weeks of racing remaining in the 52 day session, McPeek had saddled 24 winners from 61 starters and trailed leader Tom Amoss by two victories.

           

ASMUSSEN NOMINATES SIX TO DEBUTANTE – Trainer Steve Asmussen has saddled the winner of the Grade III Debutante the past three years, and he has nominated six 2-year-old fillies for the 108th running of the $100,000-added stake to be run this year on June 28.

Prominent among the Asmussen nominees is Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ltd.’s Ocean Colors, the next-to-last foal of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors. Ocean Colors broke her maiden in her debut by 5 ¼ lengths on June 13 at Churchill Downs.

Asmussen’s past two Debutante winners, Rated Fiesty and Richwoman, have been owned wholly or in part by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, which is represented on the nominee list by Songtress, a first-out winner at Churchill Downs on May 22.

D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled a record six Debutante winners, has two nominees: Devil Eleven Stable’s Cameron Crazies, who broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on May 29, and Donald Dizney’s Runaway Heart, an 8 1/4-length maiden winner at Calder on May 31 in her second start.

 Todd Pletcher, who has won the past four Eclipse Awards as the nation’s leading trainer, is represented by three nominees. Topping the trio is Twin Creeks Racing Stable, LLC’s Garden District, who ran second against the boys in the Grade III Kentucky Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 1.

 

BRASS HAT TO GET SHORT BREAK – Trainer Buff Bradley said that his father’s Brass Hat came out of his fifth-place finish behind Curlin in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) in good shape, but said some time off is in order for the 7-year-old son of Prized.

“I am going to give him at least three weeks off, maybe six,” Bradley said. “I haven’t decided where to run next, but I’d like to go back to the Massachusetts Handicap (on Sept. 20) and I’d like to find a race for him before the Mass Cap.”

Brass Hat won the 2007 Mass Cap, but has lost his subsequent seven starts. He has brought home a check in all of those races except for the Fayette over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface last fall and he earned $28,500 in the Foster to boost his career earnings to $1,790,314.

“I am not down on him,” Bradley said. “His two turf races (before the Foster) were pretty good. I think he has still got it. Maybe he is not as good as he was at 5, but I think he is still capable of competing at that level.”

Bradley was not surprised at the tour de force displayed by Curlin in winning the Foster.

“The way he had been training, and (runner-up) Einstein, too,” Bradley said. “I watched them every day and I knew they were going to run well.”       

 

DOGWOOD WINNER ACOMA WORKS TOWARD NEXT START – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma, who won the Grade III Dogwood on May 31 in her stakes debut, worked a half-mile Monday morning in :48, the third fastest of 50 at the distance over a “fast” track.

            “I am not sure where she will run next,” trainer David Carroll. “It will be either the Mother Goose (on June 28) or the Coaching Club American Oaks (on July 19) and then on to the Alabama (on Aug. 16). She would not run in both.”

The Mother Goose is a mile and an eighth and the Coaching Club American Oaks is a mile and a quarter, as is the Alabama.

“I would think the longer the better for her,” Carroll said of the daughter of Empire Maker, who won the Dogwood going a mile around one turn. “Both of the races at Belmont are one turn.”

 

MOSS MOVES INTO TIE FOR LEADING OWNER – The victory by Morghyn in Sunday’s 10th race represented the 12th of the meet for Maggi Moss, moving her into a tie with Ken and Sarah Ramsey for the title of leading owner of the Spring Meet.

            The 12 wins for Moss have come from just 22 starters. The Ramseys have had 41 starters through the first 37 days of the 52-day meet that ends July 6.

            Morghyn’s victory was the second of the day for trainer Tom Amoss.

            The victory also capped a banner day for jockey Jamie Theriot, who recorded the fourth four-win day of the Spring Meet. Leading rider Robby Albarado, who has 50 victories, rode four winners on May 24 and June 8, while Julien Leparoux, third in the standings with 40 victories, had a four-win day on April 29. Miguel Mena, second to Albarado with 45 victories, had the best single day of the meet when he rode five winners on May 8.

 

NOMINATIONS DUE THIS SATURDAY FOR CLOSING WEEK STAKES – Saturday, June 21 is the deadline for nominations for the final three stakes of the 52-day Spring Meet: The Firecracker (GII), the Bashford Manor (GIII) and the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII).

The $200,000 Firecracker is a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-olds and up on July 4. The Bashford Manor carries a $150,000 purse for 2-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track on July 5 with the $150,000 Locust Grove scheduled for closing day July 6 at a mile on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Information is available by calling Churchill Downs Racing at (502) 636-4470 or nominations may be made via fax at (502) 636-4479.

 

BARN TALK – Robby Albarado and Julien Leparoux will be out of town Saturday riding in the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup (GIII) at Colonial Downs for Churchill Downs-based trainers. Albarado has the mount on Alien Farm’s Nistle’s Crunch, trained by Ken McPeek. Leparoux will ride Uptown Racing’s Boss Lafitte for trainer Tom Amoss in the mile and three-sixteenths race. Boss Lafitte, winner of the USA Stakes at Lone Star in his most recent start in addition to taking the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland, worked a half-mile Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs in :48.20 over a “fast” track, the second fastest of 37 at the distance. … Calvin Borel, fourth in the rider standings with 34 victories, is scheduled to return to the saddle Friday after a swollen ligament in his knee forced him to take off all mounts Saturday and Sunday, agent Jerry Hissam said. Borel is named on four mounts Friday. … Trainer Jinks Fires is considering running Patricia Blass’ Prom Shoes in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup Handicap (GII) in Iowa on June 28. … Trainer Mike Tomlinson said that 2007 Falls Handicap (GII) winner Kettleoneup is in foal to Bernardini. “She chipped an ankle in the Louisville Handicap (on May 2) and she was retired,” Tomlinson said. Kettleoneup is owned by Tom Crouch.

 

WORK TAB – On Monday with the track fast, Zayat Stables’ Z Fortune, 10th in the Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Steve Asmussen. … Overbrook Farm’s Clearly Foxy, scratched out of Saturday’s Grade III Regret, worked five furlongs in :59.60 for trainer Mark Casse which was the second fastest of 32 at the distance. … Bruce Lunsford’s graded stakes-winning Tessa Blue worked five furlongs for trainer Frank Brothers in 1:01.60. … Lloyd Madison Farms, IV’s Valentine Fever, a two-time stakes winner at Turfway Park this winter, worked a half-mile over a “fast” track in :48.40 on Wednesday for trainer Greg Foley. The work was the sixth fastest of 35 at the distance.

 

   2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

          Through Sunday, June 15 Jockeys                          Starts   1-2-3

Robby Albarado                  190  50-25-25

Miguel Mena                       248   45-33-31

Julien Leparoux                  234   40-44-43

Calvin Borel                        225  34-33-34

Shaun Bridgmohan             164   33-27-22

Jamie Theriot                     185   32-31-20

Jesus Castanon                   192   21-17-21

Corey Lanerie                    152   12-21-17

Brian Hernandez Jr.            137   12-20-15

Elvis Trujillo                        75   10-10-18

Larry Sterling Jr.                  75      9-9-9

Trainers

Tom Amoss                       59    26-8-10

Ken McPeek                        61    24-11-5

Steve Asmussen                  89   19-14-13

Dale Romans                     103   11-22-18

Mike Maker                         42    11-9-4

Ian Wilkes                           38    11-8-5

Eddie Kenneally                   47   9-9-8

Cody Autrey                        48     8-9-9

Nick Zito                             20    8-5-1

Greg Foley                          54    7-9-8

Steve Margolis                     36     7-6-8

Paul McGee                         35    7-6-2

Wesley Ward                       27     7-5-5

Robert O’Connor II              18     7-2-4

Bret Calhoun                       17     7-1-2

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey         41     12-7-8

Maggi Moss                         22     12-3-3

Zayat Stables, LLC                41      7-8-9

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein   30     6-7-4

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable      14      5-1-0

Padua Stables                       7       4-1-0

Eliah and Lisa Kahn               4       4-0-0

 

Churchill Downs Incorporated Reaches Agreement With KHRA on Assistant Starter Procedures

Churchill Downs Incorporated has reached an agreement with the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority regarding procedures followed for assigning assistant starters during Kentucky Derby 134 on Saturday, May 3, 2008. CDI has agreed to pay an administrative assessment of $15,000, but does not admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

The review of CDI procedures followed the assignment of an assistant starter to a specific horse for Kentucky Derby 134. As part of the review, the KHRA determined there was no evidence of inappropriate behavior by the assistant starter during the loading.

“The questions raised concerned the procedures by which staff are hired and assigned to start a race,” said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs racetrack and executive vice president of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “We were eager to cooperate in the review and to swiftly address the KHRA’s concerns regarding these procedures. We believe this agreement is an acceptable resolution for both the KHRA and Churchill Downs. We are particularly satisfied with their conclusion that the actual running of Kentucky Derby 134 was handled appropriately.”

Asmussen Eyes Turf, Possible Arc de Triomphe Bid For Stephen Foster Winner Curlin

With a dominant 4 ¼-length victory by reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) behind him, trainer Steve Asmussen was looking toward the future for his champion on Sunday morning. And the immediate future could have a distinctive green tint, as in the color of grass.

Asmussen has never shied from dreaming big things with Stonestreet Stable LLC’s and Midnight Cry Stable’s champion, and has occasionally mentioned the possibility of a trip to Paris to compete in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1), Europe’s greatest race for older horses, as a possible stop in the 4-year-old campaign for the son of Smart Strike.

Curlin came out of his romp in the Stephen Foster, in which he carried high weight of 128 pounds and defeated a strong field of nine rivals under a hand ride by jockey Robby Albarado, in good shape. And Asmussen said the notion of a trip to the famed Longchamp Racecourse for the 1 ½-mile turf test on Oct. 5 was again on the table – but some foundation would have to be laid before the discussion between the trainer and Stonestreet owner Jess Jackson about that potential journey becomes serious.

“We’ve talked about it since last year, since the Classic and he put him back in training,” said Asmussen.

The Stephen Foster Handicap victory improved Curlin’s record to 9-1-2 in 12 races and extended his winning streak to five races – a string that includes wins in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (GI) and the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI). The winner’s prize of $589,000 from the Stephen Foster Handicap’s record $1 million purse improved his career earnings to $9,396,800. The victory moved the Kentucky-bred Curlin closer to second-place Skip Away on American racing’s all-time earnings list. Skip Away earned $9,616,360 in his career, while Cigar remains atop the career earnings list with $9,999,815.

With an eye toward an Arc bid, Asmussen plans to work Curlin over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course, and then look for a turf race somewhere in North America on the weekend of July 12-13. He would prefer a race over an international style course, such as those at Arlington Park, Belmont Park or Woodbine. Major turf races for older horses scheduled that weekend include the $500,000 Man O’ War (GI) at 1 3/8 miles at Belmont Park and the $200,000 Arlington Handicap (GIII) at 1 ¼ miles at Arlington Park. Asmussen said that if the champion turned in a “Curlin-esque” performance in that race, he would ship to France to train at Chantilly and would probably have one race prior to the Arc in France, most likely a traditional Arc prep like Longchamp’s Prix Foy (Group 2).

“If we don’t like how he works on the turf, then we’ll change plans and that will have to be discussed,” Asmussen said. “But right now we’re going to plan on working him on the turf, with the possibility of running him on the turf the weekend of the 12th.”

As Asmussen considers a possible Arc bid for Curlin, he has relied heavily on the expertise of his brother, retired French riding champion Cash Asmussen. Cash won the Arc de Triomphe in 1991 aboard Suave Dancer and won the French Derby four times.

“One of the things that gives me a great level of comfort about the Arc is Cash,” he said. “He gives me all the confidence in the world.”

Although Curlin’s margin of victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap was the second largest in the 27-year history of the race, Asmussen admitted to some anxious moments during the race. The champion broke a bit slower than expected from his rail post and was in a pocket behind horses heading into the far turn as early leader Barcola cruised along in fractions of :25.01, :49.28 and six furlongs in 1:13.41.

“Robby said he hit the side of the gate leaving there,” Asmussen said. “You’re concerned how fast the horse on the lead was going to sprint home after going :25 (for the first quarter). Then when you were watching the race you could see Robby’s confidence and knowing the horse, you could see how happy he was.”

Asmussen was also pleased with the return to form displayed by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro in his victory in Saturday’s $175,000-added Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII) on the Stephen Foster Handicap undercard. The win under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan snapped a two-race losing streak that included a 10th place finish as the favorite over Polytrack in Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass (GI) and an eighth-place finish behind Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

Pyro was doing well on the morning after his comeback win. Asmussen said the Pulpit colt would be pointed toward the $200,000 Dwyer (GII) at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park on July 6 and, if all goes well, the $1 million Haskell Invitational (GI) at 1 1/8 miles at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3.

 

EINSTEIN COULD RESURFACE IN JULY 4 FIRECRACKER – Trainer Helen Pitts reported that Einstein came out of his runner-up finish to Curlin in Saturday’s Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) in good shape.

“He’s mad because he lost,” Pitts said. “He’s run in four Grade Is now this year with two firsts and two seconds, so you can’t knock that.”

Pitts said there is a possibility Einstein could run back in the one-mile, $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs on July 4.

“He ran pretty hard yesterday,” Pitts said. “The Firecracker is an option. I don’t want to have to wait two months for the (Arlington) Million (on Aug. 9). If I can make sure he is good and fresh, he could run in the Firecracker then have five weeks before the Million. Another option is the (Grade II) Arlington Handicap (on July 12), but I don’t want to go a mile-and-a-quarter and then a mile-and-a-quarter, and that would be only four weeks before the Million.”

 

SUPER DERBY LOOMS ON RADAR FOR MY PAL CHARLIE – Trainer Al Stall Jr. was mulling over options for B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie after the colt’s runner-up effort in Saturday’s Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII).

“That race was basically a repeat of his race in the Louisiana Derby,” Stall said of another runner-up effort behind Pyro. “He seems to run much better at his home track and maybe shipping to Hot Springs (for the Arkansas Derby) and Lone Star (for the Lone Star Derby) hurt him a bit.

“I am going to talk with Mr. Hughes and maybe give the colt a little time off. We could go to Louisiana Downs. They run a race down there called the Prelude (on Aug. 16) and if you win that you get a free ticket into the Super Derby (on Sept. 20). That would give him plenty of time in Shreveport to get acclimated.”

 

FOOTNOTES FROM FOSTER DAY – Galen May, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said that Hystericalady came out of her 7 ½-length romp in the Fleur de Lis (GII) in good order and would return to her Northern California base on Wednesday. “She is doing great this morning,” May said. “It is always good when the rider doesn’t have to use the stick.” … Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) winner Dreaming of Anna left Churchill Downs early Sunday morning to return to Arlington Park. … Also heading back to Chicago on Sunday was Recapturetheglory, who finished fourth in the Northern Dancer. … Trainer Pete Anderson plans to keep Hobeau Farm’s Delightful Kiss at Churchill Downs after the gelding’s seventh-place finish in the Stephen Foster. “I may go on to Iowa, which was the plan all along,” Anderson said, referring to the Grade II Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup on June 28. “I knew we were in trouble yesterday when I saw 25 (a 25-second first quarter in the Foster). It is hard to believe horses like that can go in 1:13 (for six furlongs). A horse with his style, it is tough to overcome a pace like that.”

 

CRUM, WOLFORD JOIN CELEBRITY ROSTER FOR HORSEMEN’S POKER TOURNAMENT – Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Crum of the University of Louisville and four-time National Football League All-Pro Offensive lineman Will Wolford have joined the roster of celebrities that will participate in a horseman’s Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament set for Monday, June 16 in the Triple Crown Room of the Jockey Club Suites at Churchill Downs.

The tournament, which offers a grand prize of $10,000, will also feature celebrity players that include Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas and Hall of Fame jockeys Don Brumfield and Gary Stevens.

Registration is scheduled to begin Monday at 5 p.m. (all times EDT) and the tournament starts at 6 p.m. The tournament is limited to 250 players with a tax-deductible buy-in of $225, a playing spots remain available Cash prizes will be paid to the top 10 finishers and a special prize of a clubhouse box to the 2009 Kentucky Derby is available without playing.

Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the lifestyle and substance abuse programs at Churchill Downs. The event is sponsored by Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and the Churchill Downs Racing Committee.

More information may be obtained by calling the Kentucky HBPA office at (502) 363-1077 or the Churchill Downs Horsemen’s Lounge at (502) 636-4830.

 

BARN TALK – A victory in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) aboard Curlin highlighted a three-win day for Robby Albarado and gave the veteran rider a six-victory lead over Miguel Mena in the race for leading jockey of the Spring Meet.

The win aboard Curlin gave Albarado his 49th stakes victory in his career at Churchill Downs, second only to Pat Day.

Albarado’s other victories came aboard Fitzaslew ($11.60) in the third for trainer Ken McPeek and Sly Storm ($4.60) in the fifth for trainer Tom Proctor. After 36 days of the 52-day Spring Meet, Albarado has 49 victories with Mena next at 43.

The chase for leading trainer tightened as McPeek and Steve Asmussen saddled two winners each. In addition to Fitzaslew, McPeek won the first race with Tripple Gift ($11) to boost his meet total to 23, one behind Tom Amoss. Asmussen’s total jumped to 19 with the victories by Curlin ($2.80) and Pyro ($5.60) in the Northern Dancer (GIII).

 

WORK TAB – Tom Walters’ Elite Squadron, winner of the Churchill Downs (GII), worked a half-mile in :47.20 for trainer Jim Baker over a “fast” track. The move was the third fastest of 65 at the distance. … Arindel Farm’s two-time Grade I winner Wait a While, on the comeback trail after suffering a minor injury in March, worked three furlongs in :37.20 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Also working for Pletcher was Team Valor International’s graded stakes winner Fairbanks, who worked five furlongs in 1:01. … Trainer Steve Asmussen sent out multiple graded stakes winners Zanjero and Kodiak Kowboy for works. Zanjero, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, covered five furlongs in 1:03 and Kodiak Kowboy, owned by Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm, worked six furlongs in 1:15.80.

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through Saturday, June 14

Jockeys Starts 1-2-3

Robby Albarado 183 49-24-25

Miguel Mena 240 43-31-31

Julien Leparoux 227 40-43-42

Calvin Borel 225 34-33-34

Shaun Bridgmohan 158 32-27-21

Jamie Theriot 176 28-30-16

Jesus Castanon 186 21-15-21

Brian Hernandez Jr. 132 12-20-15

Elvis Trujillo 75 10-10-18

Corey Lanerie 146 10-21-16

Larry Sterling Jr. 74 9-8-9

Trainers

Tom Amoss 55 24-8-9

Ken McPeek 60 23-11-6

Steve Asmussen 85 19-14-13

Dale Romans 101 11-22-17

Mike Maker 40 11-7-4

Ian Wilkes 35 10-8-5

Eddie Kenneally 44 8-9-8

Nick Zito 20 8-5-1

Greg Foley 53 7-9-8

Cody Autrey 43 7-8-8

Steve Margolis 36 7-6-7

Paul McGee 35 7-6-2

Wesley Ward 27 7-5-5

Robert O’Connor II 17 7-2-4

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey 40 12-6-8

Maggi Moss 21 11-3-3

Zayat Stables, LLC 40 7-8-8

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 29 6-7-3

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 13 5-1-0

Padua Stables 7 4-1-0

Eliah and Lisa Kahn 4 4-0-0

Ten (10) owners tied with three (3) wins

'Horse of the Year' Curlin Sparkles in Easy Stephen Foster Win

Reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin made a spectacular return to competition in the United States when he cruised to an easy 4 1/4-length victory over nine rivals in the 27th running of Saturday’s $1 million-guaranteed Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) for 3-year-olds and up at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Stonestreet Stables and Midnight Cry Stables and ridden by Robby Albarado, Curlin rallied from fourth to take the lead in the upper stretch and drew away to cover the 1 1/8-mile distance over a “fast” track in 1:49.68.  The 4-to-10 favorite paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10.  Einstein, a three-time Grade I stakes winner on turf who was making a rare start on dirt, rallied under Julien Leparoux to nip Barcola by a nose for second and paid $3.80 and $3.20.  Barcola, who set a moderate pace under Jesus Castanon, finished third and paid $6.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Curlin has now won five consecutive races – a string that includes four Grade I events – and is unbeaten in three starts in 2008.  The winner of last fall’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Monmouth Park opened the year in Dubai with a pair of victories that included the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba.  He became the second winner of the world’s richest race to return to the U.S. to win the Stephen Foster Handicap.  Street Cry won both races in 2002, while Dubai World Cup winners Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001) each finished second in the Stephen Foster.

The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike improved his career record to 9-1-2 in 12 races and the winner’s share of $589,000 from the Stephen Foster Handicap’s record $1 million purse improved his career earnings to $9,396,800.  The victory moved the Kentucky-bred Curlin closer to second-place Skip Away on American racing’s all-time earnings list.  Skip Away earned $9,616,360 in his racing days, while Cigar remains the career leader with earnings of $9,999,815.

Curlin, who carried high weight of 128 pounds in the Stephen Foster and conceded anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds to Saturday’s opponents, broke in the middle of the field from his rail post and settled in fourth behind Barcola as the pacesetter led his nine rivals through easy fractions of :25.01 for the quarter, :49.28 for the half-mile and 1:13.41 for six furlongs.  Curlin angled off the rail and took aim on the leader entering the homestretch, engaged the early leader in a brief battle for the lead and then drew off under a hand ride by Albarado for a comfortable win.  Einstein, who settled in sixth early, rallied late to nip Barcola at the finish for the runner-up spot.

The victory by Curlin marked the second consecutive Stephen Foster Handicap victory for Albarado, who took last year’s renewal aboard Flashy Bull.  It was the first victory in the race for Asmussen, who also saddled Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro to win the $175,000-added  Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-olds earlier in the day.

The 4 1/4-length victory margin for Curlin was the second-largest in the 27-year history of the race.  Only Street Cry, who won the race by 6 1/2 lengths in 2002, won the race more comfortably.

Grasshopper ran fourth, and was followed past the finish by Brass Hat, Jonesboro, Delightful Kiss, Sam P., High Blues and Red Rock Creek.

The Stephen Foster Handicap was the highlight of “Stephen Foster Super Saturday,” which featured six graded stakes races with total purses of $2.025 million.

STAKES QUOTES: THE STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP

STEVE ASMUSSEN (trainer, Curlin) - “It’s such an honor to be involved with this horse - he is such a beautiful animal.  I’m so thankful to Mr. Jackson and the whole Stonestreet group and Midnight Cry to bring him back as a 4 year-old and just letting us enjoy him.”

(Q: What is it like for you to train a horse like Curlin?)
“A dream of a lifetime.  You know, you are very fortunate to be involved with this sport to begin with, let alone to have an animal as special as he is.”

JESS JACKSON (co-owner, Curlin) - “Kentucky horsemen appreciate this horse. What he stands for is a classic champion and we’ll see how great he is because he is not fully defined.”

ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, Curlin) - (on the ride) “Great, phenomenal; he’s an amazing horse.  Again with his routine brilliance, he is in textbook form.  He’s showing that he is a superstar.  He prevailed for the fans and I’m proud of him-- he’s an amazing horse-- amazing athlete.”

(Q: What has it been like riding Curlin?)
“A stepping stone of every jockey’s dream and he fulfilled a lot for me-- taking me across the world and back.  And I just look forward to the rest of the year and hopefully we can do it again for everyone.”

HELEN PITTS (trainer, Einstein) - “It’s a victory for us, I think.  It really is.  I thought we’d been nosed out for second, but I was still tickled to death with the way he finished.  I didn’t think we had the best of trips with the pace that there was early.  Like Julien (Leparoux) said, with no pace he kind of got shuffled around early and ended up back where he didn’t want to be, but he adapted to it.”

(Q: When he came to Barcola, what were you thinking?)
“When he came to him, it gives that horse more incentive.  Curlin was far enough away that he was eyeing Barcola at that point.  He had something to run at for second.  I thought we had been nosed out for second, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.  I said before at the beginning before the race ever ran, I’d be honored to be second to him (Curlin).”

(Q: Back to the turf for his next race?)
“Oh, absolutely.  The Arlington Million is still the ultimate goal  I’m not saying something like the Clark (Handicap) in the fall wouldn’t be an option.  Obviously he likes this track.  But going forward I think you absolutely stick with your same plan.  We did this today to do what we had to do because, as you can see, when he’s ready to run, he’s ready to run.”

JULIEN LEPAROUX (jockey, Einstein) – “The outside horses broke quick and then they took back and there was no pace out there. I wish they would have gone in 1:10 (instead of 1:13.41). But my horse ran well; it’s no disgrace to run second to Curlin.”

JESUS CASTANON (jockey, Barcola) - “I was able to slow the pace down.  Nobody would go with me, so I took advantage of it.  When I asked him to go he picked it up real nice, but Curlin went around me.  He just ran past my horse and he was trying to catch up with him, but that’s a different thing.  Down the lane I thought I was going to be able to finish up for second, but he couldn’t hang on.”

GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, Grasshopper) – “I was in a good spot going into the first turn, I thought. Curlin was down on the inside and real tight with a couple of horses. Then (Kent) Desormeaux (on Sam P.) pushed me out and I went from being three-wide to five-wide and by the time that happened we were three-quarters of the way around the first turn. They were really backing up. They were not going fast enough to say I am going to take back. We were in a pretty good spot and Curlin was the one that had to fight his way out. If I had had enough horse around the turn, he still would have been in there. At the time I asked him, he wasn’t there for me.”

Champion Dreaming of Anna Cruises to Early Times Mint Julep Win

Frank Calabrese’s Dreaming of Anna lived up to her 1-2 favoritism by cruising to a front-running 2 ½-length victory over Ballymore Lady in the 32nd running of the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon.

In giving jockey Garrett Gomez his third victory in six stakes on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” card, Dreaming of Anna covered the mile and a sixteenth on firm turf in 1:42.77 and defeated seven fillies and mares.

Winner of the 2006 Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 2-year-old filly, Dreaming of Anna scored her second victory at Churchill Downs, having taken the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) to clinch her championship in 2006. The 4-year-old homebred daughter of Rahy improved her record on grass to eight victories and three seconds in 11 starts.

Dreaming of Anna shook off some mild early pressure from Street Sounds and was never threatened in winning for the 10th time in 15 starts overall and increasing her bankroll to $1,908,175.
    
Dreaming of Anna returned mutuels of $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Lady rallied for second under Julien Leparoux to return $5.20 and $4. Hurstland Farm’s Kiss With a Twist finished another 1 1/2 lengths back in third under Miguel Mena and paid $5.20 to show.

STAKES QUOTES: EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP HANDICAP

GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, Dreaming of Anna) – “I got a little pressure early on from Robby (Albarado on Street Sounds), but then she settled into a nice rhythm. I was able to give her a little breather at the half-mile pole and then she came home nicely.”

WAYNE CATALANO (trainer, Dreaming of Anna) – “The Beverly D. (on Aug. 9 at Arlington Park) is one of the races we have targeted for her and after today, obviously she is headed in the right direction. She will leave tomorrow to go back to Chicago.”

EDDIE KENNEALLY (trainer, Ballymore Lady) – “She ran big.  She’s improving and she likes the turf course here.”

(Q: What’s next for her?)
“We’re going to run her here on closing day in the Locust Grove.”

JULIEN LEPAROUX (jockey, Ballymore Lady) – “She ran really good.  We’ve been trying to get her to relax and today she was really relaxed.  She proved that when she relaxes, she can finish good.”

(Q: It was tough to catch Dreaming of Anna on a day like this...)
“She’s a really good filly.  She didn’t go too fast in front and got an easy lead, and it’s tough to come back on one like that.  But my filly made up a lot of ground.”

MIGUEL MENA (jockey, Kiss With a Twist) – “She ran hard.  She tries all the time.  I had a great trip and turning for home I thought I was going to be able to close for the win, but Dreaming of Anna had a lot of horse.  My filly tries hard.  She works hard and every time she runs she gives you 100 percent.”

Tizdejavu Wires Foes in Jefferson Cup

Tizdejavu swept Churchill Downs’ spring graded stakes races for 3-year-olds on turf with a convincing gate-to-wire romp in Saturday’s $222,600 Jefferson Cup (Grade II).

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Tizdejavu ran 1 1/8 miles over “good” turf in 1:49.15 en route to a four-length victory over Golden Yank. On Kentucky Oaks Day, they also teamed to win the Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) by a neck.

Tizdejavu joined Senor Tomas (1992), King Cugat (2000) and Senor Swinger (2003) as the only four horses to win both races.

Tizdejavu asserted himself from the start Saturday, leading the field of eight 3-year-olds through comfortable fractions of :24.48, :48.06, 1:12.31 and 1:36.35. The Kentucky-bred son of Tiznow was never challenged. Gomez began to work his hands on the colt with a quarter mile to run, and Tizdejavu responded gamely through the stretch.

Tizdejavu, trained by Dr. Greg Fox, paid $8, $4.20 and $3.20. Golden Yank, ridden by Jamie Theriot, paid $7.60 and $5. Old Man Buck, the 2-1 favorite with Robby Albarado in the irons, finished another half-length back in third and paid $3.20.

Halo Najib, Wicked Style, Budge Man, Go West Bert and Bobby Blue Eyes completed the order of finish.

The $133,872 first-place check nearly doubled Tizdejavu’s earnings to $271,187 for owners and breeders Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth. It was his third win in six career starts.

STAKES QUOTES: THE JEFFERSON CUP

GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, Tizdejavu) – “There did not seem to be a lot of speed in there looking at the race. Julien (Leparoux on Wicked Style) and I broke about two lengths ahead of the field and then he took back. This colt has nice, huge stride and he just went on from there.”

GREG FOX (trainer, Tizdejavu) – “I think his performance speaks for itself. We are going to enjoy this victory now (before committing to the next race). He has plenty of options. We decided to put him on the grass after he ran in the allowance race at Keeneland (on April 12). Garrett felt that the Polytrack may be not his best surface and that he would like the grass. He is a very happy horse.”

JAMIE THERIOT (jockey, Golden Yank) – “He ran a good race.  I just let him fall back and make a run and picked up most of the pieces.  He ran good.”

ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, Old Man Buck) – “That was a pretty tall order for a first race back off this layoff.  It’s been a while since he’s run, but he’ll be a top horse this year.”

Pyro Bounces Back to Win Northern Dancer

Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC’s Pyro rebounded from an eighth-place finish in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) to draw off to a 1 3/4-length victory over My Pal Charlie in the seventh running of the $190,925 Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII) on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and trained by Steve Asmussen, Pyro rated third off the pace of dueling leaders Texas Wildcatter and My Pal Charlie as the duo carved out fractions of :24.88 and :48.83.

Leaving the backstretch, Pyro moved at the leaders along with Visionaire, who had finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.  Pyro overcame My Pal Charlie at the head of the lane and then shook off the challenge of Visionaire at the eighth pole to complete the mile and one-sixteenth on a “fast” main track in 1:43.53, defeating five other 3-year-olds.

As the second choice, Pyro returned mutuels of $5.60, $3.60 and $2.60. B. Wayne Hughes’ My Pal Charlie, ridden by Jamie Theriot, returned $6.60 and $3.60, while Team Valor International and Vision Racing’s Visionaire, ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished another 2 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.20 to show.

Favored Recapturetheglory, who ran fifth in the Kentucky Derby, finished fourth, another 1 1/4 lengths back.

The victory was worth $117,345 and increased Pyro’s career earnings to $1,174,163. A homebred son of Pulpit, Pyro improved his record to 9-4-2-1.

STAKES QUOTES: THE NORTHERN DANCER STAKES

SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN (jockey, Pyro) – “Obviously, he’s tactical and he’s so classy. You can do whatever you want with him. Steve and his crew did a fabulous job. He’s been a temperamental horse, but he was fabulous today. The work that they’ve put into him has, obviously, paid off.”

STEVE ASMUSSEN (trainer, Pyro) – “The horse left there very cleanly today and Shaun had him in great position. He ran a very strong race. I’m just proud of how he acted. Pre-race, he was very confident and back to how he was over the winter. I was very glad to see it. Hopefully this is the first step to a very good second half of the year.

“He just came over a lot more relaxed. Pre-race and schooling before the Derby, he seemed agitated and flat nervous. Scott did a great job with him, doing a lot of schooling and (getting him) able to run back here. He beat a nice group of horses today.

“He was coming off two extremely disappointing efforts for a top-class horse. This was a quality field today and he handled what was thrown at him. He was a lot sharper in the race and looked comfortable the whole time. Hopefully we can map out a schedule that has some important races in it for 3-year-olds for the year.”

AL STALL JR. (trainer, My Pal Charlie) – “We actually talked about the one-horse (Recapturetheglory) missing the break because of his lack of starts, and Jamie took it right to ‘em.  It was very similar to the Louisiana Derby, but we were just second best – what can you say?”

JAMIE THERIOT (jockey, My Pal Charlie) – “He’s a horse that kind of puts himself into the race and he had everything his way.  He was just second-best to that horse (Pyro).  We ran all winter long with him and we were second-best to him then, and he still is.”

(It looked on the turn like all things might be possible for you...)
“On the turn I still had plenty of horse and I thought I could get away from him (Pyro), but that horse is just better than us.”

MICHAEL MATZ (trainer, Visionaire) – “He just kind of went pretty wide there (on the turn).  Garrett suggested that maybe we put some blinkers on him, so we’ll see what that is like.  I thought it was a good race coming back and we’ll just have to go one from here.”

GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, Visionaire) – “He made a nice run on the turn.  We gave up a spot early on in the race that I was hoping to stay up in, but it’s a learning experience and hopefully we can move forward from this and get him back on the right track.  He’s a nice horse.”

E.T. BAIRD (jockey, Recapturetheglory) – “That’s the first time he’s every really broke with me like that.  He didn’t break coming out of there – he kind of broke over the top for a little bit – two or three jumps – and being in the one-hole, I was covered up immediately and I was forced to do what I really didn’t want to do. But I didn’t have a choice.”

(He still ran on pretty well to get fourth...)
“It’s tough.  I’ve never had him quite in the position he was in today.  He handled it pretty well I think, but I would have liked it if he had broke better and I’d have been able to take my position rather than take what was left.”

Pure Clan Takes Regret at Churchill Downs

Pure Clan rolled to her third stakes win at Churchill Downs with a 2 3/4-length victory over C J’s Leelee in Saturday’s $217,000 Regret Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

Pure Clan, who returned to turf racing after a third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), covered 1 1/8 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course rated “good” in 1:49.86.

Julien Leparoux rode the winner for trainer Bob Holthus and owners IEAH Stable and Pegasus Holding Group Stables. Leparoux also won the 2006 Regret with French-bred Lady of Venice.

Pure Clan, the even-money choice in the field of five 3-year-old fillies, was positioned close behind early leaders C J’s Leelee and Zee Zee. After a quarter mile in :24.51, the half in :49.48 and six furlongs in 1:14.04, Leparoux angled Pure Clan three-wide into the final turn. She wore down the leaders and grabbed command from C J’s Leelee with a sixteenth of a mile to go.

Pure Clan paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10. C J’s Leelee, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $3.60 and $2.20. Zee Zee finished another 1-½ length back in third under Kent Desormeaux and paid $2.20.

Magical Theater and Miss Mafioso completed the order of finish. Absolutely Cindy and Clearly Foxy were scratched.

The $134,540 winner’s share of the purse increased Pure Clan’s earnings to $552,416. It was the Kentucky-bred filly’s fifth win in eight starts.

Pure Clan, a 3-year-old Pure Prize filly, won her first four races at age two: a pair of turf events followed by back-to-back Churchill stakes triumphs in the Pocahontas (GIII) and Golden Rod (GII).

Saturday’s victory was Pure Clan’s first in four starts this year. In addition to her third place finish in the Oaks, she was second in the Honeybee (GIII) and third in the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park.

STAKES QUOTES: THE REGRET STAKES

JULIEN LEPAROUX (jockey, Pure Clan) – “We had the ideal scenario with the two horses to beat setting the pace.”

(Did you have any problems during the race, such as when Miss Mafioso had you trapped on the hedge leaving the backstretch?)
“It was a little tight, but that was his job. But when you are inside and have the good horse and the gas to go, you can do whatever you want. I had a lot more horse than him.”

ROBERT HOLTHUS (trainer, Pure Clan) – “I think I know where we will be spending the Fourth of July (at Hollywood Park in the mile and a quarter American Oaks Invitational on grass on July 5) if we get an invitation. She has trained well on the grass since the Kentucky Oaks (a third-place finish on the main track on May 2) and her last work was just awesome. We felt all along that her action was better suited for the grass than the dirt.”

KEN McPEEK (trainer, C J’s Leelee) – “She ran a great race. Robby did a great job. We’ve been beat two lengths to her twice – once on the dirt (in the Golden Rod) and now on the turf. They’re classy fillies. We just hooked a tough one in Pure Clan.”

ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, C J’s Leelee) – “She ran a great race – she just got outrun. The filly that beat us is real nice.”

(It looked like the winner might get boxed in behind you, but once Pure Clan got free she rolled on by...)
“Those good ones find a way out of there.”

BILL MOTT (trainer, Zee Zee) – “The winner ran well. We were playing cat-and-mouse (with C J’s Leelee) down the backstretch, but the winner was just too much.”

(On paper, it looked like you might try to lay second behind C J’s Leelee...)
“That’s what we were trying to do, but (Albarado) wouldn’t go on with the other one.  I wish we would have gone on.  I think Albarado was trying to give someone else the lead, I kind of wish he (Desormeaux) had gone ahead and taken it.”

Hystericalady Runs Away With Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs

Eclipse Award winning-jockey Garrett Gomez hand-rode Hystericalady to a 7 ½-length triumph over Initforthekandy in Saturday’s $321,900 Fleur de Lis Handicap (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.

The 5-year-old mare, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, ran 1 1/8 miles on a “fast” main track in 1:50.88 en route to the fifth graded stakes victory of her 19-race career.

Overall, it was Hystericalady’s ninth win for owners Rancho San Miguel, Tom Clark, George Todaro and Hollendorfer. The $199,578 winner’s share of the purse pushed her lifetime earnings to $1,510,556.

Hystericalady, the 1-2 favorite in the field of five fillies and mares, pressed the early pace set by Initforthekandy, who ran the first quarter-mile in :24.78 and the half in :49.69. Into the far turn, Gomez urged Hystericalady to the front and the daughter of Distorted Humor responded nicely. She passed the six-furlong marker in 1:13.67, and drew off when asked in upper stretch.

Hystericalady paid $3 and $2.20. Initforthekandy, the longest shot at 15-1 under John McKee, held second and returned $7.20.

Kathleens Reel, Aspiring and Peach Flambe completed the order of finish. Cowgirls Don’t Cry was scratched.

Hystericalady, the Northern California invader who finished second to champion Ginger Punch in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI), returned to Churchill Downs Saturday for the third time in her career. Last year, she won the Humana Distaff (GI), then finished third in this year’s renewal on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard.

She has now won two of four starts this year. Her 2008 campaign also includes a victory in the Azeri Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn Park.

STAKES QUOTES: THE FLEUR DE LIS HANDICAP

GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, Hystericalady) – “This is the first time I have ridden her and she is a nice, nice mare. I thought there might be one or two more horses go for the lead. I eased her out at the half-mile and she moved on. At the head of the stretch, she gave me a little more kick than I was expecting.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER (trainer, Hystericalady) – “This worked out good for us. I am not sure when her next race is going to be, but it probably won’t be at Del Mar. I would think she may run two more times before the Breeders’ Cup."

(Regarding running on a synthetic surface at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup, on a surface she never has won on): “I can say that it is not her best surface, but she still has run well on it. Hopefully we will be around at the year of the year and get back to Santa Anita.”

JOHN MCKEE (jockey, Initforthekandy) – “She ran a really big race.  (Trainer Jeff) Talley had here well-conditioned going into it.  At the top of the lane when she (Hystericalady) came by, she (Initforthekandy) dug in.  But I knew she was just too much for me.  She ran up on to get second and she was determined.”

Sizzling O'Connor Cooks Up 41 Percent Win Rate

Rob O’Connor has been training horses at Churchill Downs for more than two decades, but he never has had a meet such as the current one.

When Sneak a Drink scored a 5-1 odds in Friday’s second race, she gave O’Connor his seventh victory from just 17 starters. That is a 41 percent win rate with an average payoff of $16.50.

Prior to this year, O’Connor’s best meet had been in the Spring of 1993 when he saddled five winners from 27 starters. The breakout campaign could not have come at a better time for O’Connor.

“I was a private trainer for 15 years for Jim Bohannon,” O’Connor said. “He raced just allowance horses. If they were not allowance horses, they weren’t in the barn.

“He became ill five years ago and I lost 33 percent of my stable. When he died three years ago, I had to liquidate the barn and basically start all over. I am trying to put together new clients and I don’t mind having a claiming stable because you get to run a lot of races and you need clients.”

O’Connor ran in the winters at Fair Grounds “before (Hurricane) Katrina and then Turfway but I found that was not a viable option. The last two years I have been at Tampa Bay and the horses have come out there running good.”

O’Connor has fewer than a dozen horses stabled at Churchill Downs, a number he would seriously like to see increase.

“I consider myself a pretty much hands-on trainer,” O’Connor said. “But I am only as good as my help and my horses.”

EARLIE’S LAST RIDE COMING SOON, BUT WHEN A MYSTERY – Hall of Fame rider Earlie Fires, now ninth on the all-time wins list in North America with 6,452 through June 13, plans to retire sometime during the current Arlington Park meet.

The exact date is not known and even Fires’ older brother Jinks has no inside information on when that final ride will be.

“He hasn’t told me, but I know he is definitely going to retire during the meet,” said Jinks Fires, whose stable is based at Churchill Downs. “I knew that passing Sandy Hawley was a personal goal of his.”

Earlie Fires collected his 6,450th win on June 7 to pass Hawley for ninth all-time. Jorge Velasquez ranks eighth in total career wins with 6,795. Russell Baze leads all North American riders with 10,179 victories.

Of Fires’ 6,452 wins, 403 came at Churchill Downs, 15 in stakes. The 61-year-old rider won or shared riding titles in the 1973 and 1974 Spring Meets as well as titles in the 1965 and 1973 Fall Meets.

KNEE INJURY SIDELINES BOREL – Calvin Borel, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) aboard Street Sense and currently fourth among riders at the Churchill Downs Spring Meet with 34 winners, will be off all his mounts until next Friday because of a knee injury.

“He came off a horse Friday morning, but he rode yesterday and thought everything was fine,” Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam said. “When he woke up this morning, it was swollen ligament in his knee. The doctor recommended he not ride for four or five days.”

Borel had been scheduled to ride in five stakes on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” card, including Brass Hat in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).

A two-time leading rider in the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, Borel had a record of 34-33-34 in 225 mounts through Friday’s Spring Meet racing at Churchill Downs.

SEVEN HORSES SCRATCH FROM “SUPER SATURDAY” STAKES – There were seven defections Saturday morning from the six stakes on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” card.

Jeff Singer’s Cowgirls Don’t Cry remained in New York for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to run in Saturday’s Ogden Phipps (GI) at Belmont Park instead of the Fleur de Lis (GII); new owners Overbrook Farm opted not to run Clearly Foxy and owner-trainer Keith Kinmon withdrew Absolutely Cindy from the Regret (GIII); Zabeel Racing International’s Tiz Now Tiz Then was declared from the Northern Dancer (GIII) and in the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII), Rustic Flame (Ire), Tears I Cry and Elisabeth Alexander’s Sousaphone were withdrawn.

Kinmon opted not to bring Absolutely Cindy down from Turfway Park because “she just didn’t seem to have that bounce in her step. We had been pointing to this race since the Kentucky Oaks, but for the past three days my heart was telling me to bring her down but my mind was telling me not to do that. I didn’t want to bring her down and have her throw in a clunker on what is her best surface."

Mrs. Paul Shanahan’s Rustic Flame, trained by Niall O’Callaghan was to run instead in Saturday’s Minnesota H.B.P.A. Mile at Canterbury Park. Peter Bradley III’s Tears I Cry will be pointed to the July 6 Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) at a mile on the turf according to trainer Cody Autrey. “We worked her the other day on the turf (:53.80 for a half-mile on June 12),” Autrey said. “She is kind of a light filly, and this gives her more time.”

BARN TALK – Tom Amoss saddled two more winners Friday to extend his lead in the race for leading trainer at the Spring Meet. Nereus ($4.60) scored in the sixth race and Lighthouse Jim ($4.80) took the seventh to give Amoss 24 winners from 54 starters, a 44 percent clip. Amoss increased his lead in the trainer standings to three over Ken McPeek. … Three jockeys posted riding doubles Friday: Shaun Bridgmohan, Julien Leparoux and apprentice Diego Rodriguez. Leading rider Robby Albarado claimed his 46th victory of the meet to retain a four-win lead over Miguel Mena. … Nominations close today for the $100,000-added Debutante Stakes (GIII) at six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies. The Debutante will be run June 28. Information is available by calling Churchill Downs Racing at (502) 636-4470 or nominations may be made via fax at (502) 636-4479.

WORK TAB (Track: MUDDY) – Alien Farm’s graded stakes-placed Nistle’s Crunch worked five furlongs over a “muddy” track in 1:01.20 for trainer Ken McPeek, the fastest work of the morning of 17 at the distance. Also working for McPeek was Lawrence Carroll’s multi-graded stakes-placed Bold Start, who worked a half-mile in :49.40. The move was the ninth fastest of 34 at the distance. … Patricia Blass’ Prom Shoes, runner-up in the 2007 Peter Pan (GII), worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Jinks Fires. The time was the 10th fastest of the morning. …Biggerbadderbetter, third in the Louisville Handicap (GIII), breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60.

2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through Thursday, June 13 Jockeys Starts 1-2-3

Robby Albarado 173 46-23-24

Miguel Mena 233 42-30-30

Julien Leparoux 216 39-39-40

Calvin Borel 225 34-33-34

Shaun Bridgmohan 149 31-27-19

Jamie Theriot 167 28-26-15

Jesus Castanon 179 21-15-20

Brian Hernandez Jr. 129 12-20-14

Elvis Trujillo 75 10-10-18

Corey Lanerie 1413 9-21-16

Larry Sterling Jr. 74 9-8-9

Trainers

Tom Amoss 54 24-7-9

Ken McPeek 54 21-10-4

Steve Asmussen 80 17-14-12

Dale Romans 97 11-22-17

Mike Maker 40 11-7-4

Ian Wilkes 35 10-6-5

Eddie Kenneally 43 8-8-8

Nick Zito 20 8-5-1

Greg Foley 53 7-9-8

Cody Autrey 43 7-8-8

Steve Margolis 33 7-6-6

Paul McGee 35 7-6-2

Wesley Ward 27 7-5-5

Robert O’Connorr II 17 7-2-4

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey 40 12-6-8

Maggi Moss 21 11-3-3

Zayat Stables, LLC 38 7-8-7

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 28 6-7-3

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 11 5-1-0

Padua Stables 7 4-1-0

Eliah and Lisa Kahn 4 4-0-0

Eight (8) owners tied with three (3) wins