Three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will begin the 123rd Fall Meet at Churchill Downs just 14 victories shy of the 5,000 career-win milestone and the Louisiana native, who will turn 46 on Nov. 7, is confident he’ll reach the mark this meet at the site of his three most important victories.
“It would be really special to get it here (at Churchill Downs) because of what I’ve accomplished here,” Borel said. “I want to get it here and I think we’ll get it here.”
With 14 more trips to the winner’s circle, Borel will become just the 26th rider to reach the 5,000-win mark. The rarity of such an achievement is not being taken lightly by Borel.
“It means a lot and it’s a big accomplishment,” Borel said. “I’ve been very fortunate. Throughout my career I’ve won races I never dreamed I would win and I never thought I’d win 5,000 races. It’s going to be very exciting, especially as I get closer to it.”
Borel, who has recorded 1,115 wins at Churchill Downs and is the second all-time leading rider at the Louisville track behind Pat Day (2,482), has averaged 19.6 victories per Fall Meet over the last five years.
FORT LARNED BREEZES FIVE-EIGHTHS IN PREP FOR BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC – In his final major training move prior to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I), Whitney Handicap (GI) winner Fort Larned breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning.
Working under exercise rider Kate Merritt, Fort Larned recorded fractions of :24.60, :36.40, :48.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.80.
“He went really well and I was very pleased with him,” trainer Ian Wilkes said.
Fort Larned has won of four of his eight starts this year, including the Skip Away (GIII), Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (GIII) and the aforementioned Whitney Handicap, but Wilkes is hopeful the best is still yet to come.
“I hope we haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Wilkes said. “The hope is that he’ll be at his peak next week.”
A 4-year old colt by E Dubai, Fort Larned made his career debut on the ‘Stars of Tomorrow II’ program during the 2010 Fall Meet. Wilkes has two entrants on the ‘Stars of Tomorrow I’ program at Churchill Downs on Sunday (today), including first-time starter Taylor Street in the sixth race.
“Anytime you lead one of them over, you’re hoping it’s your next good horse. That’s what these Stars of Tomorrow programs are all about,” Wilkes said.
FIELDS FOR ACK ACK, CHILUKKI COMING TOGETHER – The fields for Friday’s $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) and Saturday’s $150,000-added Chilukki (GII) are beginning to take shape. Leading the list of potential starters for the Ack Ack are Neck ’n Neck, Aikenite and Dominus. Joyful Victory, Brushed by a Star and Salty Strike are expected to headline the Chilukki.
Indiana Derby (GII) winner Neck ’n Neck, owned by A. Stevens Miles Jr., is expected to carry the top weight in the Ack Ack and was assigned 120 pounds by Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.
The next top weights could be Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite and George Bolton, Stonestreet Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s Dominus who were both assigned 118 pounds. Both horses are trained by Todd Pletcher and assistant trainer Michael Dilger said one or both of the horses could start.
Other probable starters for the Ack Ack include Hurricane Ike, Stealcase, Zimmer and Seruni. Fort Loudon is believed to be a possible starter.
Entries for the Ack Ack will be taken Tuesday.
Fox Hill Farms Inc.’s Joyful Victory is expected to enter the Chilukki and make her first start at Churchill Downs since finishing fourth as the favorite in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Graded stakes winners Brushed by a Star and Salty Strike also are expected to enter the Chilukki and Churchill Downs officials believe they’ll be joined by Bonnie’s Empire, Brilliant Future, Make a Toast and Spectacular Sky. Remington Park Oaks winner Sticks Wondergirl is believed to be a possible starter.
Entries for the Chilukki will be taken Wednesday.
DOWN THE STRETCH – It was a busy morning at Churchill Downs as 154 horses recorded workouts over the Louisville oval Sunday. The “bullet” times for the day were :36.40 for three furlongs, :48 for a half mile, 1:00.40 for five furlongs and 1:16.60 for six furlongs … Probable Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) highweight Neck ’n Neck breezed five furlongs on the fast main track at Churchill Downs in 1:01.60 … Possible Ack Ack starters Aikenite and Dominus breezed four furlongs in :51.60 … 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) winner Chamberlain Bridge breezed four furlongs on the main track in :51.40 … Prospective breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 … O’Prado Again breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 … Pica Slew breezed a half mile in :50.20 … Nominations for the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII) and the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) close Wednesday, Oct. 31. The Commonwealth Turf, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course, and the Mrs. Revere for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, will be run under the lights at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 during the Fall Meet’s lone Downs After Dark racing program.
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