Agent Bass the 'Doughnut King' After Leparoux's Record Day; Wrona Has Memorable Debut In Announcer's Booth

Nov 12, 2008 Gary Yung

LEPAROUX'S RECORD DAY GOOD FOR THE DOUGHNUT BUSINESS – Agent Steve Bass was a busy and popular man as Churchill Downs' 'doughnut king' on Wednesday, the morning after his rider, Julien Leparoux, produced a record-tying seven-victory day at the Louisville track.

'Eighteen dozen doughnuts,' Bass said with a smile after his delivery to the Eddie Kenneally barn that sent out Leparoux's seventh win of the day, Runway West. 'I got lucky. I had three stops in one at Mike Maker's barn.'

Bass was asked if there was a big night of celebration after the banner day or just straight home for milk and cookies.

'It was a regular night for both us,' Bass said. 'Julien and I both went home and had dinner and that was it.'

The seven victories matched a 24-year-old record held by Pat Day. Leparoux's milestone was achieved on seven consecutive mounts with only two aboard post time favorites. Day's feat on June 20, 1984 came with five favorites, three of which were odds-on, his victories were in the first three and last four races on an eight-race program.

'My goal each day is to win one or two and come home safe,' Bass said. 'Two or three is a good day and when he won the first four yesterday, I was like ‘Wow!' Usually when he starts the day good with some live horses, he finishes good. The day he won six last year (on June 27) was like that.'

Leparoux was scheduled to ride eight horses on Wednesday's 10-race card.

The seven-win day allowed Leparoux to open a 12-winner lead over Robby Albarado in the chase for leading rider (31-19) after 12 days of the 26-day meet. Leparoux remains on pace to break Day's Fall Meet record of 55 victories during the 30-day session of 1985.

WRONA'S OPENING DAY AT DOWNS ONE FOR THE BOOKS – Australian-born announcer Michael Wrona has had some memorable days in the announcer's booth at racetracks across the country since his arrival in the United States in 1990.

Those career highlights include announcing Cigar's record-equaling 16th consecutive victory in the Citation Challenge in 1990 at Arlington Park; Laffit Pincay Jr.'s 8,834th victory, which broke the legendary Bill Shoemaker's record for career wins; and milestone victories Nos. 9,531 (which broke Pincay's record) and 10,000 by northern California riding legend Russell Baze.

And then came Tuesday at Churchill Downs, the first of six days on which Wrona is scheduled to serve as the 134-year-old track's guest announcer.

'… And then I walk into Churchill Downs and Julien Leparoux matches a record that has stood for 24 years,' Wrona said. 'My head was just exploding with all that was going on. It certainly was an eventful first day.'

Wrona, one of five guest announcers to call races during the Fall Meet, never had called a race at Churchill Downs before Tuesday.

'The first live race I ever saw here was the first race I called Tuesday,' said Wrona, 42, a native of Brisbane. 'I was really getting pumped as the day went on.'

Wrona's line of the day came after Leparoux's victory in the fourth race (his fourth out of seven consecutive wins): 'I tell you, he'd win on a broomstick!'

Wrona, the current voice of racing at northern California's Golden Gate Fields, was preceded on the Fall Meet roster of guest announcers by Bobby Neuman, the announcer at Calder Race Course, and Travis Stone, who describes the racing action at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

Larry Collmus, the voice of Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park and Suffolk Downs, will serve as guest announcer next week. England's Mark Johnson will be in the Churchill Downs announcer's booth during the Fall Meet's final week.

ALBARADO FOUNDATION TO MAKE FIRST DONATION FRIDAY – The Louisville-based Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization established to assist homeless individuals and service providers in the area, will receive $18,000 on Friday from the Robby Albarado Foundation during a winner's circle presentation at Churchill Downs.

The check presentation will mark the first major contribution by the foundation, which was founded by the Churchill Downs-based jockey in 2007.

'When I was a young kid I grew up in a very poor area,' said Albarado, the Fall Meet's second-leading rider. 'I got a couple of chances from a few people who helped me in racing – and if I can make a chance like that in someone's life, then that's what I'm looking forward to.'

The $18,000 check, proceeds raised from the foundation's inaugural Celebrity Golf Classic, will be presented after Friday's eighth race at Churchill Downs.

The goal of the Albarado Foundation is to assist the homeless, socially and economically disadvantaged, and less fortunate individuals in the Louisville area.

NOMINATIONS LIGHT FOR CLARK, FALLS CITY – Nov. 15 is the closing day for nominations for five Fall Meet stakes races, including four Grade II events slated for Thanksgiving Weekend.

The richest of the stakes is the $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII) to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track on Friday, Nov. 28. On Thanksgiving Day, the fillies and mares will get their chance at the same distance in the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII).

'Right now, the nominations are a little on the light side for both of those stakes,' Racing Secretary Ben Huffman said.

Huffman said that four horses are under consideration for the Clark: Tracy Farmer's millionaire and two-time Whitney (GI) winner Commentator; Hobeau Farm's Delightful Kiss, fresh off a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Marathon; Elisabeth Alexander's Magna Graduate, winner of the opening-day Ack Ack (GIII) and 2005 Clark winner; and The Big Stable's Brooklyn Handicap (GII) winner Delosvientos.

Among those under consideration for the Falls City are Mark Stanley's Swift Temper and Talley Racing's Initforthekandy, the third and fourth-place finishers, respectively, from the Nov. 2 Chilukki (GII).

Highlighting the closing-day 'Stars of Tomorrow II' card that features all two-year-olds are the Golden Rod (GII) for the fillies and the open Kentucky Jockey Club (GII). Both races are 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Also closing on Saturday is the Bet On Sunshine, a $61,000 overnight handicap for sprinters 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs on the main track. The Bet On Sunshine is set for Saturday, Nov. 22.

BARN TALK – Trainer Mike Maker and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey moved closer to Fall Meet records Tuesday. Victories by Diva's Gold in the first and Majestic Feline in the seventh gave the Ramseys their 12th and 13th winners of the meet, two fewer than the Fall Meet record set in 1965 by T. Alie Grissom in a 23-day meet. In addition to Diva's Gold and Majestic Feline, Maker also saddled Variant to victory in the fifth race to raise his total to 17 for the meet, three fewer than the fall mark established by Dale Romans in the 27-day meet of 2003. It was the second three-victory day of the meet for Maker, who also produced a three-bagger on Oct. 26. Variant's victory was the fourth of the meet for Rose Barney's Scarlet Stable out of four starters.

WORK TAB – Silverton Hill Farm's Corlett, winner of the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies and fourth in this spring's Debutante (GIII) worked six furlongs over a fast track in 1:19.20 for trainer Darrin Miller. … Make A Hole Racing's Beer Pong, a convincing 2-year-old allowance winner on Nov. 1, worked a half-mile in :48 for trainer Tom Amoss. The move was the second fastest of 35 at the distance.

CHURCHILL'S INAUGURAL 'RIDER CUP' SET FOR SATURDAY – Churchill Downs will stage its inaugural 'Rider Cup' for charity on Saturday, Nov. 15.

The unique event will showcase American-born jockeys versus foreign-born jockeys in a competition for points in Races 4-8. Before each of the five designated races, celebrity team captains (Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day will captain Team USA and the Team World will be captained Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr.) will choose one jockey to represent their respective team with hope of earning coveted points.

Points will be awarded on a 3-2-1 scale for first, second and third place finishes in each race. If neither jockey hits the board, the rider with the best finish will be awarded a half-point.

The team with the most points at the conclusion of Race 8 will be crowned the winner and a $10,000 donation will be made to the charity of the winning team's choice. The charity of the second place team will win a $5,000 donation.

Pre-race selections by the captains will be showcased on-track with Churchill Downs' John Asher serving as host.

HORSES AND HOPE ON SUNDAY – 'Horses and Hope,' a new initiative created by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear with the Kentucky Cancer Program, is scheduled at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Nov. 16. The event, centered on the women who work in the barn areas at Kentucky racetracks, is designed to increase breast cancer awareness and provide education, screening and treatment referral.

In conjunction with the event, the color of pink will be scattered throughout Churchill Downs on Sunday, including the saddle towels and caps for the featured fifth race that will honor 'Horses and Hope.' Pink will also be featured on jockey's arm bands, groom's vests, outriders, flags, bunting and trophies for winning horse owners. There also will be a special pink cosmopolitan drink on sale with proceeds going to 'Horses and Hope.'

More than 700 cancer survivors are expected to attend the races in Millionaire's Row Four on Sunday. After the fifth race, there will be a group picture near the Aristides statue in the paddock garden.

ROBBY ALBARADO GLASS GIVEAWAY ON SATURDAY – The week's promotional calendar is highlighted by the second of three collectable hurricane glass giveaways that salute popular Cajun jockeys who ride at Churchill Downs. A Robby Albarado glass, sponsored by GE, will be given away to the first 5,000 paid and pre-paid admissions on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Fans who receive the glass can come back to Churchill Downs on Sunday, Nov. 16 for an autograph session with Albarado on the second floor of the clubhouse between 11-11:30 a.m.

A glass depicting Calvin Borel, sponsored by Thorntons, was given away Nov. 8. A Kent Desormeaux glass, presented by Kentucky Derby Party, will be given away on Nov. 22.

FRIDAY HAPPY HOURS – New Orleans-themed 'Friday Happy Hours' – featuring $2 Budweiser Select, $2 hurricanes, $2 Fischer's hot dogs and live jazz music – will be held Friday from 3-5 p.m. in the upper Jockey Club's paddock balcony area.

JUNIOR JOCKEY CLUB WEEKEND ACTIVITIES – A special appearance by the Louisville Metro Police Department Horse Patrol on Saturday, Nov. 15 will highlight this weekend's activities at Churchill Downs' Junior Jockey Club located near the Guest Services Booth inside Gate. 10.

Crafts, featuring embossed horse pictures, will also be featured Saturday for children age 4-10. Sunday's activities include the decoration of pine cones. Coloring books, crayons, individual games and reading material are available as well, and Churchill Downs' mascot Churchill Charlie will be on hand both days for photographs between 1-1:30 p.m.


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