BREEDERS’ CUP WINNER TAKE CHARGE BRANDI ‘POSSIBLE’ FOR GOLDEN ROD
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Nov. 7, 2014) – After lighting up the tote board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I) at odds of 62-1, Willis Horton’s Take Charge Brandi is under consideration for the $200,000-added Golden Rod (GII) on Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs, according to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
"She came out of the Breeders’ Cup great,” Lukas said. “She’s back here training and I’ll say she’s possible for the Golden Rod at this point. We’ve still got a couple weeks to make a decision, but she’ll definitely be nominated.”
While Lukas said that Take Charge Brandi certainly should be considered for Champion 2-year-old Filly honors, he also acknowledged that the race was still relatively open at this stage.
“I think she definitely proved she should be in the conversation from her Breeders’ Cup performance,” Lukas said. “Will it be enough? I’m not sure. If we decide to go to the Golden Rod with her and win, it obviously helps our chances.”
The other 2-year-old filly in conversation for championship honors is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI) winner Lady Eli, who is undefeated in three starts.
“It would be different seeing them give that award to a turf filly but I think she’s earned her way into that conversation too,” Lukas said.
Elsewhere, Lukas said that Zayat Stables LLC’s Mr. Z, fifth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), would be considered for the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), also at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
“It’s the same story with Mr. Z,” Lukas said. “He’s back here, doing fine and we’ll take a good look at the Jockey Club with him at the end of the meet.”
Nominations for the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod close Wednesday, Nov. 12.
SET THE SAIL, VILLANDRY TAKE ANOTHER AIM AT RIVER CITY
For a second consecutive year, Set the Sail and Villandry, the pair of 5-year-old geldings trained by Charlie LoPresti, will attempt to land the $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III) on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Set the Sail finished second beaten two lengths by 45-1 longshot Potomac River in last year’s edition of the 1 1/8-mile turf race, while Villandry finished fourth.
Set the Sail is seeking his first win of 2014. He finished seventh in an allowance race at Keeneland last out, but was close to a win in his last race prior to that when he finished second by a nose in an optional claiming event at Saratoga.
“Set the Sail is a horse who never liked the inside post,” LoPresti said. “He ran pretty big at Saratoga earlier in the year and then came back at Keeneland and didn’t really fire; he’s a funny horse like that. But if you look at him last year in the Fayette at Keeneland, he didn’t run that great either but then he came back and nearly won the River City last year. He’s doing well and I think at 12-1, he’ll be live Saturday.”
Villandry on the other hand won on Churchill Downs’ turf course earlier this year, ran third in the Oct. 16 Sycamore (GIII) at Keeneland last out and was fourth in the Northern Dancer (GI) prior to that. With both of his last races coming at the distance of 1 ½ miles, LoPresti thinks Villandry will respond well in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile contest.
“Villandry has been pretty honest all year,” LoPresti said. “He’s had some solid performances in 1 ½-mile races against some stiff competition. I think cutting him back to a mile-and-an-eighth will probably set up nicely for him. I think there’s a ton of speed in there with Silver Max and maybe Set the Sail, so I think he can probably come off the pace and give himself a big chance.”
Villandry (8-1) will have jockey Julien Leparoux in the saddle breaking from post four and Set the Sail (12-1) will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and break from post position three.
“I know Silver Max is tough but I honestly think it’s anybody’s race,” LoPresti said. “Both of my horses are doing well and I think they’re both sitting on big performances.”
The River City will go as the ninth of 10 races Saturday with an approximate post time of 4:37 p.m. ET.
MCPEEK COULD HAVE GOLDEN ROD CONTENDER BY WEEKEND’S END
Trainer Ken McPeek will send out a full-sister to 2010 Golden Rod-winner Kathmanblu in Kathballu in Friday’s seventh race, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Churchill Downs.
Kathballu finished sixth in her only start, a maiden event at Keeneland going six furlongs.
“She’s acting like she’s pretty fast,” McPeek said. “Her first race was somewhat disappointing though. We thought she would have run a lot better than she did. But I think with the added distance she should be able to put herself in a little better position.
“There are some resemblances in her demeanor I’ve noticed to Kathmanblu, but we’ll see just how similar they are as Kathballu gets a couple more races in her.”
McPeek also has another 2-year-old filly running Sunday under the Twin Spires in I’m a Chatterbox, who was a debut maiden winner at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles. She is entered in Sunday’s fifth race, an allowance-optional claiming event for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles again.
“We were actually more impressed with Kathballu’s stablemate, I’m a Chatterbox in her first race,” McPeek said. “She proved she could get the distance and she’s done everything right to this point. Right now she’s a little further along.”
Contested at 1 1/16 miles, the Nov. 29 Golden Rod will be part of Stars of Tomorrow II on closing weekend of the 2014 Churchill Downs Fall Meet. The Golden Rod awards 10 points to the winner on the Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), to be run Friday, May 1, 2015.
“It’s a great race,” McPeek said. “Anytime you can get a graded win here it means a lot, but to end the year with it at the same track the Oaks will be run on is special. It’s obviously a little early to say whether we’ll have one in there this year, but we’ll take a look at it after the weekend.”
NOMINATION REMINDER – On the horizon, horsemen have until Wednesday to nominate horses to the four lucrative stakes scheduled for closing weekend (Nov. 27-30): the Grade II, $200,000-added Falls City Handicap (fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles); Grade I, $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles); Grade II, $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles); and Grade II, $200,000-added Golden Rod (2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles).
MILESTONE WATCH – Robby Albarado entered Thursday needing one victory to become the third jockey to reach the 1,000-win milestone at Churchill Downs. He has six mounts Friday: Execute (Race 1), With a Twist (Race 4), Patricia’s Kitten (Race 6), Trace Creek (Race 8), Twang (Race 9) and Calbo (Race 10). … Corey Lanerie began Thursday with 597 wins, three victories shy of becoming only the 11th jockey in track history to win 600 races at Churchill Downs. … Trainer Rob O’Connor II is one win away from his 100th Churchill Downs victory and is scheduled to saddle Calbo in Friday’s finale.
EVENTS THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Pigskins and Ponies returns in the Plaza for the final four Saturdays of the Fall Meet with the UK-Georgia football game being shown at noon this Saturday, followed by Arizona State-Notre Dame game at 3:30 p.m. on the Plaza video board. Drink specials ($2 Bud/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $1 Pepsi products and bottled water) and tailgate-style food will be offered from the Plaza Grill. Churchill Downs will offer free admission to college students every Saturday with a current student I.D. … This Sunday is Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger, which was a hit for families during the Spring and September meets with plenty of games and activities for children while the adults enjoy an exciting day of horse racing.
ON THE WORKTAB – Friday’s worktab was highlighted by multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Departing, who breezed a half-mile in :49 for trainer Al Stall Jr. Also working Friday were Indiana Oaks (GII) winner Tiz Windy (5F in 1:01.20) and multiple stakes winner Conquest Tsunami (4F in :47.20).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Jockey Corey Lanerie extended his lead in the jockey standings to 16-8 over Shaun Bridgmohan with two wins Thursday. … Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their fourth race of the meet on Thursday when Saffron Hall prevailed, but Gary and Mary West won the first race on Friday’s card with Be a Hero, once again tying the couples for first place in the coveted Churchill Downs leading owner’s standings.