FLAT OUT PREPS FOR CLARK; DICKEY HOPES FOR BETTER DRAW – Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade I) winner Flat Out impressed his connections Saturday morning with a four-furlong breeze in :48 on the main track at Churchill Downs in preparation for Friday’s 137th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI).
Under jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, Flat Out recorded fractions of :12.60, :24.40 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01. The four-furlong time was the eighth fastest of 91 at the distance on a very busy morning beneath the Twin Spires.
“The horse worked perfectly,” trainer Scooter Dickey said. “The owners were here to watch him and we were all really happy. He’s doing great.”
Flat Out was doing so great Saturday morning that Dickey noted Kuntzweiler had to restrain him more than usual to keep the 5-year-old son of Flatter from working too quickly.
“We didn’t want her (Kuntzweiler) to really pull on him and make him throw his head, but she had a better hold of him than she usually does and he still worked pretty fast,” Dickey said. “We wanted him to do it all by himself and that’s how he did it. He loves to work.”
Flat Out returned to Dickey’s barn in good order following the breeze.
“He cooled out great,” Dickey said. “He was acting like he didn’t even work this morning.”
Owned by Preston Stables LLC, Flat Out has raced twice at Churchill Downs this year, finishing sixth to Pool Play in the Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) and fifth to Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
In both races, Flat Out broke from an inside post – breaking from the rail in the Stephen Foster and post position two in the Classic. With the scratch of Prayer for Relief, who had drawn the rail, in the Classic, Flat Out once again drew further inside than any other starter. (Note: Post one was left open following the scratch of Prayer for Relief.)
“It wouldn’t exactly make me mad if we drew further outside,” Dickey said with a grin. “We’ve been inside both times he’s gotten beat here this year. We’re hoping to not draw the one, but that’s out of our hands.”
ON FIRE BABY BREEZES SEVEN-EIGHTHS IN PREP FOR GOLDEN ROD – Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, winner of the Oct. 30 Pocahontas (GII) at Churchill Downs, breezed seven furlongs in 1:27.20 on the main track beneath the Twin Spires on Saturday and it appears that all systems are “go” for run the $150,000-added Golden Rod next Saturday.
“She worked super,” trainer Gary Hartlage said. “She did everything exactly how we wanted her to do it. It was a nice, cruising seven-eighths and she galloped out a good mile. She’s doing great and we’re set to go for the Golden Rod.”
On Fire Baby recorded fractions of :13, :25.40, :37.80, :50.40, 1:02.60, 1:14.80 and galloped out a mile in 1:41.40.
On Fire Baby, a half-sister to High Heels, who was finished third in the 2006 Golden Rod and was also third to eventual Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Rags to Riches the following spring in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), has carried high hopes since the day she stepped into the Hartlage barn.
“A lot of times you think you have a good one, but you never know for sure until they prove it,” Hartlage said. “I think she proved how good she is in the Pocahontas.”
While Hartlage is hopeful that On Fire Baby will run well in the Golden Rod, the ultimate goal for this daughter of Smoke Glacken is another six months away.
“We’re hoping to have her back here in the spring for the big one (the Kentucky Oaks),” Hartlage said.
The 68th running of the Golden Rod will be the co-feature with the 85th running of the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) on Stars of Tomorrow II at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.
FLAT OUT NAMED HIGH WEIGHT FOR 137TH CLARK HANDICAP – Flat Out, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade I) and beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), has been assigned the high weight of 123 pounds by Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman for Friday’s 137th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Preston Stables LLC’s Flat Out is expected to make his third start beneath the Twin Spires this year in the Clark. Trained by Scooter Dickey, Flat Out finished sixth to Pool Play in the Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) in June and ran fifth to WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
In between runs at Churchill Downs, Flat Out experienced a great deal of success in New York. In his four races in the Empire State, Flat Out recorded wins in the Suburban Handicap (GII) and Jockey Club Gold Cup and was second in both the Whitney Handicap (GI) and Woodward (GI).
Next on the roster of Clark Handicap weight assignments at 120 pounds is Morton Fink’s Wise Dan, who won the Fayette (GII) at Keeneland by four lengths in his most recent start. A 4-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry, Wise Dan also has stakes victories this year in the Firecracker Handicap (GII) on grass at Churchill Downs and the Presque Isle Downs Mile over a synthetic Tapeta surface at the Pennsylvania track.
Six 3-year-olds were nominated to the Clark, led by Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Ruler On Ice, who has been assigned 118 pounds. A 3-year-old gelded son of Roman Ruler, the Kelly Breen-trained Ruler On Ice finished third behind Drosselmeyer and Game On Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Horses expected to be entered in the Clark on Tuesday include Flat Out (weighted at 123 pounds), Wise Dan (120), Ruler On Ice (118), Mister Marti Gras (117), Prayer for Relief (117), General Quarters (116), Mission Impazible (116), Headache (115), Stately Victor (115) Demarcation (114), Equestrio (114) and Pleasant Prince (114).
Weights for the 96th running of the Falls City Handicap (GII) were also released Friday and Arena Elvira and Super Espresso have been named co-high weights at 121 pounds. The Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Churchill Downs will be run on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.
Carolyn Wilson’s Arena Elvira currently sports a three-race wining streak and most recently took the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (GIII) at Aqueduct by 6 ¾ lengths. Trained by Bill Mott, Arena Elvira has never been off the board in 11 career starts.
Super Espresso, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, captured the Allaire DuPont Distaff (GIII) at Pimlico in May. A $1.1 million Keeneland September Yearling, Super Espresso finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 in her most recent start.
Entries for the Falls City will be taken Sunday and horses expected to be entered include Super Espresso (weighted at 121 pounds), Ravi’s Song (117), It’s Tea Time (116), Masked Maiden (115), Secret File (115), Spring Party (114) and Brushed by a Star (111).
BARN TALK – Trainer Steve Asmussen became the fifth trainer to reach the 6,000-win plateau when Basalt won the first race at Remington Park on Friday night. Asmussen, who turned 46 Friday, is fifth in the all-time trainer standings at Churchill Downs with 422 victories. …
It is “Pony Up for Charity” weekend beneath the Twin Spires. Patrons attending Churchill Downs during the weekend’s races will have the opportunity at all food and beverage points of sale to add $1 or more to their tab to benefit the day’s designated charitable organization. Saturday’s proceeds will be donated to The Lord’s Kitchen and Sunday’s donations will benefit Horses and Hope.
WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockey over the last five racing days (Nov. 12-18) is Julien Leparoux (11-for-33). Mike Maker (4-for-12), Ken McPeek (4-for-12) and Dale Romans (4-for-13) are the hottest trainers over the same period and Ken and Sarah Ramsey (3-for-11) are the hottest owners.
WORKTAB – Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC’s Mission Impazible and Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds LLC’s Alma d’Oro breezed four furlongs in company on a fast main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning in :47.60 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The works were the third fastest of 91 at the distance. Mission Impazible is expected to make his next start in the Clark Handicap. …
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (GII) in his most recent start, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Wesley Ward. It was the fifth fastest five-furlong breeze Saturday morning. Pleasant Prince is expected to make his next start in the Clark Handicap.
Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Optimizer, eighth in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in his most recent start, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The work was the fourth fastest of 50 at the distance. Optimizer is expected to make his next start in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) on Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs…
WinStar Farm LLC’s Gemologist, winner of an allowance at Churchill Downs on Oct. 30 as part of Stars of Tomorrow I, breezed five furlongs in company with Dancing Solo in 1:01.40 and the duo recorded fractions of :13.20, :26, :37.80, :49.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60. Gemologist is expected to make his next start in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s Ravi’s Song breezed three furlongs in :37 for trainer Carl Bowman. The work was the second fastest of eight at the distance. Ravi’s Song is expected to be entered in Thursday’s $175,000-added Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Churchill Downs. …
Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Country Day, second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) in his most recent start, breezed a “bullet” four furlongs in :47 for trainer Steve Margolis. …
Stoneway Farm LLC’s Exfactor, winner of the Bashford Manor (GIII) at Churchill Downs in July, breezed four furlongs in :48.80 for trainer Bernie Flint. It was the 14th fastest half-mile breeze Saturday morning.
CORRECTION: Friday’s Barn Notes listed Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice as a colt. The Clark Handicap contender is a gelding.