Douglas Scharbauer’s Fiftyshadesofgold breezed a half-mile in :47.40 on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for the $100,000-added Dogwood (Grade III) on Saturday, Sept. 20. The workout by the 3-year-old My Golden Song filly was the fastest of 57 workers at the distance, leaving her trainer Bret Calhoun pleased.
“She worked very, very well this morning,” said Calhoun, who entered Saturday’s card needing two wins to reach 100 Churchill Downs victories. “It looks like she is set up well for next week.”
Fiftyshadesofgold captured the Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day under the Twin Spires then finished fourth in her last two efforts, the Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park and Test (GI) at Saratoga.
“Her last race at Saratoga I thought was a great effort for her,” Calhoun said. “Unfortunately, we drew the inside post and she took all the pressure early and was beaten a length. I really believe, not to take anything away from the winner (Sweet Reason), but with a better draw, in an outside post I really believe she would have a much bigger chance of winning that race.
“Her race at Belmont was another race she ran well in. We didn’t want to be on the lead. There were a couple of speed horses in there and one of them didn’t get out and one of them didn’t show up so we ended up on the lead. I think it took a little bit of a toll on her. A horse ran right up her rear end on the final turn and I think it knocked her off stride and maybe took a little bit out of her. But again it was a good race.
“I think we’ve been a little unfortunate with our post position draws lately but I still believe she’s a Grade I-caliber filly and I believe she could have shown it at Saratoga that day if she had drawn an outside post.”
Entering next Saturday’s seven-furlong event, Calhoun seemed optimistic, especially given Fiftyshadesofgold’s perfect 2-for-2 record at her home track of Churchill, both wins coming as stakes victories.
“Obviously she loves it here and has run some good races here at Churchill,” Calhoun said. “The Dogwood probably won’t be quite as deep of a field as in Saratoga or Belmont; and we’d love to get a good race in her here and just keep moving forward.”
Calhoun also mentioned multiple Grade III-winner Marchman, who worked Friday under the Twin Spires.
“Marchman worked yesterday and the work went very well,” Calhoun said. “He was supposed to run in the (Sept. 1) Turf Monster at Parx but got an infection in his leg. So now he’ll show up at Keeneland on Oct. 4 in the Woodford (GIII).”
Marchman took the Shakertown (GIII) and Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) earlier in 2014.
CIGAR STREET, MEDAL COUNT HEADLINE CHURCHILL CLOSING WEEKEND STAKES NOMS
Headlined by the top three finishers from the Sept. 6 Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III), multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Departing and graded stakes winner Cigar Street, the $125,000 Homecoming Classic attracted 24 nominees, while the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) closed with 25 nominations, which included Grade I-placed Medal Count and Secretariat (GI) runner-up Tourist.
Both the 1 1/8-mile Homecoming Classic and Jefferson Cup at one mile on turf will be run Saturday, Sept. 27 at Churchill Downs.
A start for Jake Ballis and Rashard Lewis’ Cigar Street would be just his second since taking the Skip Away (GIII) at Gulfstream on March 30, 2013. The 5-year-old son of Street Sense was plagued with injuries after his Skip Away victory but made his return on Aug. 22, where he ran a game second to Pick of the Litter in an allowance race at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles. Crossed Sabres Farm’s Pick of the Litter also is nominated to the Homecoming Classic for trainer Dale Romans.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Cigar Street has won four of seven starts and earned $200,738, while Pick of the Letter is 4-for-16 with $265,955 in earnings.
The Ack Ack Handicap’s top three finishers: Bradester (winner), Carve (second) and Flashback (third) have been nominated to the Homecoming Classic although Bradester’s trainer Eddie Kenneally said after his Sept. 6 victory that they likely would point to the Kelso Handicap (GII) also run on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said that Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing would be a likely starter for the Homecoming Classic. The 4-year-old son of War Front won his first start of 2014 at Churchill Downs in an allowance event, followed that with a third-place effort in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and most recently finished eighth in the Aug. 3 Whitney Handicap (GI) at Saratoga. Departing has won seven of 12 starts and banked $1,521,340.
Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Medal Count is coming off a runner-up effort in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs where he was beaten a nose by My Afleet at the wire. The Romans trainee would be making a significant cutback in distance should he enter in the Jefferson Cup, having made his last five starts at the distance of 1 1/8 miles or more. Through 11 starts Medal Count has won three and earned $470,850.
Gary Barber and Winstar Farm LLC’s Tourist made his last start in the Aug. 16 Secretariat at Arlington for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, where he finished second beaten 1 ½ lengths. The 3-year-old son of Tiznow has three wins from eight starts with $255,820 in earnings.
Also nominated to the Jefferson Cup, Thomas Conway and Mike Maker’s General Jack made his last start in the Secretariat where he finished seventh. Prior to that start, the Maker trainee won the Centaur at Indiana Downs at the same distance as the Jefferson Cup. The son of Giant’s Causeway has banked $240,358 in nine starts, winning three.
ODDS AND ENDS
Corey Lanerie rode three winners from five mounts Friday to top the jockey standings after four days with seven wins, three more than Shaun Bridgmohan, Joe Rocco Jr. and Ricardo Santana Jr. … Wayne Catalano won Friday’s fourth race with Gary and Mary West’s India’s Song ($3.80) to top the trainer standings with three victories. The Wests lead all owners with a trio of wins. … Miguel Mena (330 Churchill Downs wins) entered Saturday’s card needing two victories to tie Mark Guidry (332) for 22nd on Churchill Downs’ all-time win list for jockeys. He booted home Maybelle Slew in the second and had seven remaining mounts. … Services for Jeffrey Thornbury Jr., the son of owner/trainer Jeffrey Thornbury who saddles Rusticana in Saturday’s Open Mind, will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Lexington (visitation is Monday from 4:30-7:30 p.m.). An integral part of his family’s business, the 29-year-old was killed Wednesday in an automobile accident in Paris, Ky. He is survived by his father, mother Emily, brothers Alex and Miller, grandmother Helen Sorrell and step-grandmothers Georgie Thornbury and Sarah Miller. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Jeffrey D. Thornbury Jr. Memorial Fund, c/o Central Bank, 2347 Versailles Road, Lexington, Ky. 40504.
SUNDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Family Adventure Day presented by Kroger
Sunday, Sept 14, 11:30 a.m. Gates Open
Sunday is Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger at Churchill Downs and there’s a surplus of activities for kids of all ages and the entire family.
In anticipation of the Belle of Louisville’s looming 100th Birthday Bash, Churchill Downs will pay special tribute to the steamboat by transforming its Plaza into a family-fun-filled carnival atmosphere featuring a 20-foot replica of the Belle of Louisville, a photo station where families can have their picture taken with the Captain of the Belle of Louisville Mark Doty, and a Belle of Louisville activity tent. The highlight of the day will be the selection of three families to participate in the Belle of Louisville Great Steamboat Race, with the race taking place on the Churchill Downs turf course. Each family will race carrying a large photograph cutout of the Belle of Louisville. As the sponsor of Family Adventure Day, Kroger will mark the celebration by serving up birthday cupcakes to the first 1,000 children.
- Belle of Louisville Centennial Celebration Activity including Belle replica float and a meet-and-greet with Captain Mark Doty
- Belle of Louisville Great Steamboat Race featuring three families between races on the turf course
- 1,000 free Belle of Louisville birthday cupcakes, courtesy of Kroger
- Stick Horse Races in the Paddock
- Petting Zoo
- Pony Rides
- Themed Inflatables
- Video Game Truck
- Interactive Sports Games
- Nine-hole Miniature Golf Course
- Hula Hoop Contest
- Sidewalk Chalk
- Junior Jockey Club Bingo
- Kosair Children’s Hospital Activity
- Kentucky Derby Museum Activities: a meet and greet with the museum’s resident miniature horse Winston, story time and printmaking crafts.
- Churchill Charlie’s Corner (children under 4)
- Kona Ice Truck
- DJ music from Plaza Stage
- Strolling Magician (1-3 p.m.)
- Face Painters (1-5 p.m.)
- Churchill Charlie Walk Around & Dance Party (2-3 p.m.)
- Family-friendly Pricing at Concessions
Participation in the Family Adventure Day activities requires the purchase of a Family Pavilion Ticket which is $10 for adults or $5 per child and includes gate admission and access to family seating on the Grandstand Terrace. Adults can save $5 by buying wristbands in advance online at www.ChurchillDowns.com. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first race is at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3 and reserved box seats are $10.
The new Grandstand Pavilion (including Sections 326-328) has been designated as a family-friendly area for the day where guests can gather for group dining and seating to watch the races. It also allows convenient access to family activities in the Plaza. A Family Pavilion wristband is required to use the area and take part in all Family Adventure Day activities.
Family Adventure Day supports Kosair Children’s Hospital with Churchill Downs donating $1 for each person in attendance at the track.
Churchill Downs gates open Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Post time for the first race is 12:45 p.m. and the last race runs at 5:27 p.m.