Derby and Oaks Week Stakes Attract More Than 1,000 Noms

May 14, 2011 John Asher

The names of more than 1,000 horses are listed on the rosters of nominees to 13 stakes events scheduled at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week and the large numbers of nominees offer the promise of strong and competitive fields for those races.

The 1,002 horses on those nomination lists include previously released nomination rosters for the 137th runnings of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I); the Kentucky Oaks (GI), which this year carries a record purse of $1 million; and the 25th running of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI).  The Kentucky Derby attracted 377 nominations, including 13 3-year-olds made eligible during its late nomination period. The nomination roster for the Kentucky Oaks includes 120 3-year-old fillies and 85 older grass stars were nominated to the Silver Anniversary running of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

The Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week stakes races will be kicked off by the 87thrunning of the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII), the racing highlight of the Saturday, April 30 “Opening Night” program that begins the 39-day Churchill Downs Spring Meet.  The one-mile race, the final prep for the Kentucky Derby and the last chance for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds to earn graded stakes earnings that could propel them into the maximum field of 20 horses for the Kentucky Derby a week later, attracted 67 nominations.

Possible starters for The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial include E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Swale Stakes (GIII) winner Travelin Man; Charles Cella’s Uncle Brent, winner of Oaklawn Park’s Northern Spur Stakes; Courtlandt Farm’s Machen; George Bolton, Stonestreet Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s Dominus; Zayat Stables’ Black N’ Beauty; and Harold L. Queen’s Little Drama.

Mark DedomenicoJohn CarverPeter Abruzzo and Jerry Hollendorfer’s Blind Luck, the winner of the 2010 Kentucky Oaks, and Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler’sUnrivaled Belle, the defending champ and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (GI), head the roster of nominees and expected starters in the 26th running of the$300,000-added La Troienne (GII), one of the highlights of a schedule of  six stakes races set for Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks Day racing program on Friday, May 6.

The 28 fillies and mares ages three and up nominated for the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne also includes Evening Jewel, the runner-up in the 2010 Kentucky Oaks; Gazelle (GI) winner No Such Word; Rare Treat winner Quiet Giant; Chilukki (GII) winnerDistinctive Dixie; New Orleans Ladies winner Ravi’s Song; Iowa Oaks (GIII) winnerSeeking the TitlePayton d’Oro, winner of the Bayakoa; and Lake Placid (GIII) winner It’s Tea Time.

The Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak, winner of Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap (GI) and the Donn Handicap (GI) at Gulfstream Park, is expected to head the field for the eighth running of the $300,000-added Alysheba (GIII) Presented by Besilu Stables. Others among the 45 nominees for the 1 1/16-mile race on the Kentucky Oaks Day card include Donald Dizney’s 2010 Preakness (GI) runner-up First Dude, now trained by Bob BaffertTwin Creek Racing’s Mission Impazzible, winner of the New Orleans Handicap (GII) and ninth for trainer Todd Pletcher in the 2010 Kentucky Derby; Adele Dilschneider’s Apart, winner of Churchill Downs’ Ack Ack (GIII) and runner-up in the New Orleans Handicap; Fox Hill Farm’s Winslow Homer, third in the Oaklawn Handicap (GII); Mineshaft Handicap winner Demarcation; and Awesome Gem, winner of the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup (GI).

A total of 57 horses are eligible for the 20th running of the $200,000 American Turf Presented by Ram (GII), a 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Oaks Day grass race for 3-year-olds on turf.  The American Turf nominations are headed by Air SupportGreat Mills andAdirondack Summer – the top three finishers in Keeneland’s Transylvania (GIII). Others American Turf nominees include Hallandale Beach winner Master Dunker; La Puente winner Surrey Star, and Banned, who finish fifth to Pluck in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and a narrowly beaten third in his 2011 debut in a Keeneland allowance race.

The 56th running of the $100,000 Eight Belles Presented by ACS, a Xerox Company (GIII), a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, drew 38 nominations headedPeachtree Stable’s Honey Chile, runner-up to Turbulent Descent in Keeneland’s Beaumont (GII); Forward Gal (GII) winner Pomeroys Pistol; and May Day Rose, winner of the Santa Ysabel (GIII) and Oaklawn Park’s Instant Racing Stakes.  Other nominees include the Todd Pletcher-trained Holiday Flare and Adele Dilschneider andClaiborne Farm’s Might, a sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Blame.

Carl R. Moore Management’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) winner Chamberlain Bridge and James and Marilyn Helzer’s Euroears, runner-up in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) and winner of the Palos Verdes (GII), top an impressive roster of 27 3-year-olds and up nominated to the $100,000-added Twin Spires Turf Sprint Presented by GE – Appliances & Lighting (GIII).

The Bret Calhoun-trained Chamberlain Bridge won the 2009 running of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint and fell a neck short of Silver Timber in a runner-up finish in last year’s renewal, his only loss in five races on Churchill Downs Matt Winn Turf Course. Silver Timber is nominated to defend his 2010 title, and other nominees include stakes stars BridgetownCash RefundCustom for Carlos and Regally Ready.

Starlight Partners and C.E. Glassock’s Hilda’s Passion and C. R. Trout’s homebredShotgun Gulch, winner of Keeneland’s Vinery Madison (GI), heads a strong roster of fillies and mares ages four and up nominated to the $300,000-added Humana Distaff, one of three Grade I events among six stakes races on the Kentucky Derby Day racing card on Saturday, May 7.

Hilda’s Passion won last fall’s Raven Run (GII) at Keeneland and took the recent Hurricane Bertie (GIII) and Inside Information (GII) at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.  Shotgun Gulch scored her signature victory in her Keeneland race at the expense of favored Amen Hallelujah, who is also nominated to the seven-furlong Humana Distaff.  Other nominees include C R K Stable’s Switch, runner-up to Havre de Grace in Oaklawn’s Apple Blossom (GI) and winner of the Santa Monica (GI) at Santa Anita; and Absinthe Minded, third in the Apple Blossom for Hall of Fame trainerD. Wayne Lukas.

The 77th running of the $300,000-added Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII), a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and up, attracted a stellar group of 43 nominees headed by Smiling Tiger, winner of the Ancient Title (GI) and the recent Count Fleet (GIII) at Oaklawn Park, and 2010 Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Sidney’s Candy.  Other Churchill Downs nominees include Forego (GI) winner Wise DanCapt. Candyman Can, winner of the 2009 King’s Bishop (GI); Commonwealth (GII) winnerAikeniteTackleberry; Crown of Thorns; and Noble’s Promise. 

Spendthrift Farm’s Santa Barbara (GII) winner Malibu Pier and Team Block’s Jenny Wiley (GII) winner Never Retreat top the list of 39 older females nominated to the 26thrunning of the $200,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by American Commercial Lines (GII).  Others eligible for the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares ages three and up include Mrs. Revere (GII) winner ArunaTapitsfly. Upperline andCheck the Label.

Completing the schedule of six stakes events on Kentucky Derby Day is the 26th running of the $100,000-added Edgewood Presented by Kentucky National Insurance.

Phillips Racing Partnership’s Winter Memories, winner of the Miss Grillo and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, heads a roster of 48 3-year-old fillies nominated to that 1 1/16-mile race on the Matt Winn Turf Course.  Other Edgewood nominees include Delta Princess (GI) and Silverbulleday winner Bouquet Booth;Harlan’s Ruby, runner-up in Keeneland’s Alcibiades (GI) and winner of Turfway Park’s Valdale; Delta Princess runner-up Niji’s Grand Girl; California Oaks runner-up Cathy’s Crunches; and Excited, who finished third in Gulfstream Park’s Herecomesthebride (GIII).

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