Sycamore Stable’s Nellie Cashman got her first view of the historic Twin Spires of Churchill Downs on Friday morning when she galloped around the Louisville track in preparation for her run in Saturday evening’s $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (Grade II) for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.
The filly arrived at Churchill Downs on Thursday evening, and trainer Francis Abbott III, known by family and friends as Tres (for the numeral and pronounced ‘Trez”) will arrive tonight for his first visit to the home of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
"I have never set foot in Churchill Downs, so this is going to be my maiden voyage,” Abbott said Friday by telephone.
Abbott and his filly have a chance for a memorable debut at the track as Nellie Cashman is rated as the 9-2 third choice in the field of 14 in handicapper Mike Battaglia’s morning line for the 1 1/16-mile race 3-year-old fillies on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Mineshaft has really yet to offer a poor performance in 10 career starts. She has finished worse than fourth once, and that happened in a race in which another horse fell in front of her.
But she took her game up a notch when Abbott moved to the grass five stars back and she enters the Mrs. Revere off three strong stakes performances. Her record on the surface is 2-2-1.
“It was a surprise to see her take to the grass, but not so much her ability,” Abbott said. “We’ve always really, really liked her.”
Nellie Cashman won the Virginia Oaks (GIII) at Colonial Downs over runner-up Praia, who will face her again in the Mrs. Revere, then edged Caroline Thomas in the Lake Placid (GII) at Saratoga, but stewards disqualified her to third for interference in the stretch. She comes into Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” co-feature under the Churchill Downs lights off a runner-up finish to Overheard in Keeneland’s Valley View (GIII).
“Before the Saratoga race, if you had said to me if you finished third would you be happy, I would have said ‘Absolutely’,” Abbott said. “She came back and she keeps running hard every time. She’s such a consistent filly. She’s had a hard season, but this race – taking on 3-year-old fillies going long on the turf – is absolutely the logical spot for her to end the season.”
Every race holds the potential for traffic problems, but that possibility is magnified when 14 horses break from the starting gate. Nellie Cashman has displayed a stalking running style in all of her turf starts and Abbott believes that will be an advantage for his filly.
“I think she’s got enough tactical speed,” Abbott said. “She tends to break well enough and she wants to put herself in the race. She should put herself in behind the speed.”
Abbott’s filly will be ridden by another newcomer to Churchill Downs. Forest Boyce, a finalist for the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey in 2010, will make her local debut aboard Nellie Cashman.
VEXED BOUND FOR GOLDEN ROD FOR STALL, BUT CENTRAL BANKER IS ’50-50’ FOR COMMONWEALTH TURF – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s promising Vexed is set to complete her 2-year-old racing season in Churchill Downs’ $175,000-added Golden Rod (GII) on Nov. 30’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” program, but he was uncertain Friday about the status of stakes winner Central Banker for Saturday’s $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII) on Saturday’s lone “Downs After Dark” night racing program of the Fall Meet.
Vexed, a homebred daughter of Arch who finished second to Clever Beauty in her most recent start in the $62,900 Rags to Riches Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs on Oct. 27, worked a half-mile at Churchill Downs in :48.40 on Nov. 10. Stall said the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod, which would be the filly’s first race at a two-turn distance, is the near-term target and she should benefit from her run in the one-mile Rags to Riches.
“She’s by Arch, so she’ll surely want to run around two turns,” Stall said. “Corey (Lanerie) rode a really good race on the winner and pinned her down on the fence and really intimidated her. So I think she got a really good schooling in the Rags to Riches. We think that little seasoning is going to help her quite a bit.”
Prior to the Rags to Riches, Vexed finished third over synthetic Polytrack in her debut at Arlington Park. She then cruised to a comfortable win in a seven-furlong maiden race on Sept. 14 at Churchill Downs.
As for Central Banker and the Commonwealth Turf, Stall is concerned that the son of Speightstown drew the outside post in a field of 13 3-year-olds and said the colt was “50-50” to run in the 1 1/16-mile race over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“We’ve got a horse that’s really ready to roll and feeling good, but you don’t want to take the worst of it,” Stall said. “We want to run, but we’re just feeling our way through it. We feel like he’s sitting on a good one.”
Owned by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, Central Banker is coming off a disappointing fourth-place run over Polytrack in a seven-furlong allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 4. Prior to that, he was third to Capo Bastone on dirt in Saratoga’s King’s Bishop (GI) after an easy win the $100,000 Quick Call, a 5 ½-furlong race on grass at the Spa. He has a career record of 8-3-1-2 with earnings of $234,900.
“We’re just going to ride out the scratches, if there are any, and see what happens,” Stall said. “We’re very happy with the horse. We’re experimenting around two turns and I guess the Grade III is kind of an experiment, although he’s placed in a Grade I. There are a few things we don’t know about, so that’s why the post kind of takes the confidence away from us.”
Should Central Banker scratch from the Commonwealth Turf, he would be pointed toward the $75,000 Woodchopper, a race for 3-year-olds at about a mile on turf on Nov. 30 at Fair Grounds.
CLARK HOPE WILL TAKE CHARGE SET FOR SATURDAY WORK – Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) runner-up and Travers (GI) and Pennsylvania Derby (GII) winner Will Take Charge is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Saturday in preparation for an expected run in the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 29.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Will Take Charge would work just after the break for track maintenance, which would put the time for the colt’s breeze in the 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) range.
It will be the first serious training move for Willis D. Horton’s son of Unbridled’s Song since he finished a nose back of Mucho Macho Man in the Nov. 2 Classic at Santa Anita.
BARN TALK – Jockeys Julien Leparoux and Leandro Goncalves scored riding doubles on Thursday, but Corey Lanerie remained firmly in control of the racing for leading rider as the 25-day Fall Meet completed its 13th racing session. Both Lanerie and second-place Miguel Mena won a race, and maintained a six-win edge over that rival with his 20th win of the meet. The double by Goncalves lifted his win total to 13, leaving him just one shy of catching Mena. … Mike Maker’s victory with Homeboykris in the 3rd race allowed him to pull within one of Bret Calhoun’s meet-leading 10 victories.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Agent Di Nozzo breezed four furlongs in :47.80, the second-fastest move of 55 at the distance. … Amie’s Dini, winner of Oaklawn’s 2012 Martha Washington and runner-up in the Fantasy (GII), breezed a half-mile in :49.20 for trainer Wayne Catalano.