Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie, a tantalizing prospect that trail-blazed his way to a swift 2 ¾-length victory in his career debut, headlines a field of six juveniles entered Saturday at Churchill Downs for the 113th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (Grade III), the year’s first open graded stakes race for 2-year-olds.
The six-furlong Bashford Manor – one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races – is the first of three consecutive stakes races that will be run on Saturday’s 10-race program. It goes as Race 6 at approximately 3:16 p.m. (all times Eastern) and will be followed by the $65,000-added Kelly’s Landing and the $200,000 Firecracker (GII). The first race is 12:45 p.m.
Cinco Charlie, conditioned by the meet’s leading trainer Steve Asmussen, created a favorable impression May 9 when he debuted in the first 2-year-old race of the Spring Meet as the 3-2 favorite against seven rivals. The Indian Charlie colt broke fastest of all in the 4 ½-furlong sprint and set a pressured pace on the outside of the filly To Be Determined through fractions of :22.41 and :45.54. Entering the stretch, he was met to his outside by a rallying Far Right, but shook off that rival and edged clear with a furlong to go and increased his lead under steady urging from jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. His final time of :51.65 is the fastest of six 4 ½-furlong races this meeting at Churchill Downs.
The Heiligbrodts, who were among the nation’s top owners for more than two decades, return to the stakes scene Saturday following a brief hiatus from the ownership ranks that included the dispersal of their vast racing operation in the summer of 2011. At the time of the dispersal they had owned all or part of 118 stakes-winners, including 45 graded stakes-winners.
Cinco Charlie, a $190,000 purchase at the OBS March sale, is one of a handful of 2014 starters for the Heiligbrodts, who have returned to racing as B and C Racing.
Bill Heiligbrodt, 73, co-owned 1994 Bashford Manor winner Hyroglyphic with Jack Hammer and campaigned 2004 race winner Lunarpal with his wife.
Asmussen, who has won with five of 13 2-year-old starters at the meet, seeks to land his fourth Bashford Manor, which would put him one back of record-holder D. Wayne Lukas. In addition to Lunarpal, Asmussen saddled Kodiak Kowboy (2007) and Kantharos (2010) to victories in the race.
Cinco Charlie, a bay Kentucky-bred out of the Marquetry mare Ten Halos, will break from post four under Bridgmohan.
The Bashford Manor field from the rail out (with jockeys): Skyway (Stewart Elliott), Governmentshutdown (Jose Betancourt), Draw Nigh (Joe Rocco Jr.), Cinco Charlie (Bridgmohan), Silverhill (Corey Lanerie) and Lucky Player (Julien Leparoux).
John Oxley’s Skyway breaks from the rail, which is the same post that he successfully debuted from on April 5 over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland. The New York-bred son of Sky Mesa stalked pacesetter Time Out of Mind before taking command at the top of the stretch and drawing off to win by 6 ¾ lengths despite lugging in under left handed urging. Trainer Mark Casse and his assistant/son Norman have won with four of 12 juveniles at the Spring Meet to rank second behind Asmussen.
Trainer Bret Calhoun, who captured last Saturday’s $108,300 Debutante with 2-year-old filly Promise Me Silver, hopes to scoop another stakes pot with a Lone Star Park invader bred in Texas by promising freshman sire Silver City. Douglas Scharbauer’s homebred gelding Silverhill walked out of the starting gate in his May 24 debut and spotted the leaders two lengths before grabbing the lead at the head of the stretch with a five-wide move. He drew clear inside the final furlong and outran his ballyhooed stablemate and eventual third-place finisher Supermason, which gave Calhoun the confidence to try the Bashford Manor.
Owner Tim O’Donohue and Mid-Atlantic-based trainer Jerry Robb hope to raid the Bashford Manor for a second straight year with a winner of Pimlico’s $75,000 Rollicking Stakes. They successfully brought Debt Ceiling to Churchill Downs last year and easily won the race by 2 ¾ lengths at odds of 5-1. This year’s entrant Governmentshutdown, a gray Exchange Rate gelding, enters Saturday’s race off a 3 ¾-length win in the mud over three rivals in this year’s Rollicking. He steadied slightly heading into the turn before shifting outside to grab the lead for good with about 200 yards to run.
Jerry Durant’s Lucky Player is another Asmussen trainee that won at first asking. The Florida-bred Lookin at Lucky colt rallied to beat four others on May 23 at odds of 3-5 after his rider lost his whip at the three-sixteenths pole. Julien Leparoux takes over the reins from Ricardo Santana Jr., and Lucky Player will receive the diuretic Lasix for the first time.
The field is rounded out by Jim Rankin’s Ohio-bred Draw Nigh, who stalked the leaders before making an outside run to grab the lead 200 yards from the finish in his second start on June 8 over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.
First run in 1902, the Bashford Manor is named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American racing scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor Farm in 1887 and developed his Thoroughbred operation that provided him two Derby wins as an owner, 1892 (Azra) and 1906 (Sir Huon), and three as a breeder, 1892 (Azra), 1899 (Manuel) and 1906 (Sir Huon). In addition, Bashford Manor also won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894 (Selika) and 1915 (Kathleen). The original Wilder family owned Bashford Manor. The Wilders were direct descendants of Lord Baltimore, whose English home was also called Bashford Manor. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003.
The other two featured events on Saturday’s card are the 24th running of the $200,000-added Firecracker (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course and the fifth running of the $65,000-added Kelly’s Landing, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs. The Kelly’s Landing will go as Race 7 at 3:47 p.m. and the Firecracker is scheduled as Race 8 at 4:18 p.m.