Nominations to stakes races scheduled at historic Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Week 2012 include a spectacular collection of the American racing stars headed by 2011 “Horse of the Year” Havre de Grace; Preakness winner Shackleford; Breeders’ Cup 2011 heroes Amazombie, Musical Romance, Caleb’s Posse and Stephanie’s Kitten; Nehro and Mucho Macho Man, the 2-3 finishers in the 2011 Kentucky Derby; and Plum Pretty, winner of the Kentucky Oaks 137 (GI).
Those names are included on nomination rosters for one or more of 10 Derby and Oaks Week stakes races announced this week by Churchill Downs. Nominations for the 138th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), the 138th running of the $1 million-guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (GI) and the 26th running of $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) were announced earlier.
The Derby and Oaks Week stakes schedule begins with the 88th running of the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII), a one-mile race for 3-year-olds on the April 28 “Opening Night presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” program. The Trial is the final graded stakes prep race for the Kentucky Derby, which is set for Saturday, May 5.
Total stakes purses for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks programs, each featuring six stakes events, will be the largest in the history. Six stakes contests on the Derby Day program offer total purses $3.525 million, up from last year’s then-record of $3.4 million. Overall stakes purses for Kentucky Oaks Day, Friday, May 4, will surpass $2 million for the first time as its half-dozen stakes races are now worth a collective $2.05 million. Oaks Day stakes purses hit the $2 million mark for the first time in 2011, when the value of the Kentucky Oaks, America’s top race for 3-year-old fillies, doubled to $1 million. With the Derby Trial, purses for the 13 stakes races total $5.775 million.
The 27th running of the $300,000-added La Troienne Presented by Steelcase (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day could be one of the most anticipated races of the week. Fox Hill Farm’s reigning “Horse of the Year” and champion older filly or mare Havre de Grace tops a dazzling roster of 20 fillies and mares ages four and up nominated to the 1 1/16-mile test.
Trained by Hopkinsville, Ky. native J. Larry Jones, Havre de Grace opened her 2012 season with a romp in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds. It was the first race for the 5-year-old daughter of Saint Liam since a fourth-place finish to WinStar Farm’s victorious Drosselmeyer when she faced males in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) in November at Churchill Downs.
Potential rivals nominated to the La Troienne include Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty and Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River, the 1-2 finishers in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks; E. Paul Robsham Stables LLC’s Awesome Maria, who carries a six-race winning streak for trainer Todd Pletcher that includes a victory in the 2011 Ogden Phipps (GI) at Belmont Park; Groupie Doll, winner of the recent Vinery Madison (GI) at Keeneland for owners Fred and Buff Bradley, Carl Hurst and Brent Burns; Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) runner-up and Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) winner It’s Tricky; and Arena Elvira, winner of the 2011 Falls City Handicap (GII).
Older fillies and mares will be in the spotlight again on Kentucky Derby Day in the 26th running of the $300,000-added Humana Distaff, a seven-furlong race that is one of three Grade I events on that program. Pinnacle Racing and Bill Kaplan’s Musical Romance, who earned an Eclipse Award as America’s champion female sprinter after her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at Churchill Downs; Jerry Romans’ defending winner Sassy Image; Vinery Madison winner Groupie Doll; and Switch, winner of the Santa Monica (GI) and runner-up to Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup race, are prominent among the 25 Humana Distaff nominees.
The ninth running of the $300,000-added Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and up that will be run for the first time as a Grade II test, attracted 36 nominees headed by Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s Shackleford, winner of the 2011 Preakness and fourth to Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Other nominees include Zayat Stables LLC’s Nehro and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man, the 2-3 finishers in last year’s Derby; Pin Oak Stable’s Oaklawn Handicap (GII) winner Alternation; Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft, winner of the New Orleans Handicap (GII); Diane and Julian Colter’s Toby’s Corner, the 2011 Wood Memorial (GI) winner; and Morton Fink’s Successful Dan, the runner-up of the 2010 Clark Handicap (GI) who successfully returned from a 16-month layoff to win a recent allowance race for trainer Charlie Lopresti at Keeneland. Other nominated stakes winners include Mission Impazible, Duke of Mischief, Apart, Astrology, Brethren, Colizeo, Endorsement, Prayer for Relief, Scotus, Star Guitar and Tackleberry.
Shackleford is also nominated to the $400,000-added Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII), a seven-furlong Derby Day fixture for 4-year-olds and up. He is joined on the star-studded roster of 32 nominees by Thomas Sanford and Bill Spawr’s Amazombie, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) and the champion sprinter of 2011, and McNeill Stables and Cheyenne Stables’ Caleb’s Posse, who defeated the Shackleford with a sizzling stretch run in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI). Also nominated were Triple Bend (GI) and Ancient Title (GI) winner Smiling Tiger; Tom Fool Handicap (GIII) winner Calibrachoa; Hamazing Destiny, runner-up in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint; 2010 Cigar Mile (GI) winner Jersey Town; Travelin Man, winner of the 2011 Swale (GIII); and Roman Threat, runner-up to Amazombie in the Portrero Grande (GII) on April 7 in just his second career start.
Sixty-eight 3-year-olds – including two fillies – were nominated to the meet-opening The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial, the final opportunity for possible Kentucky Derby runners to pick up graded earnings to help them make the field for the “Run for the Roses.” Secret Circle, El Padrino, Optimizer and Reveron are Derby contenders among the nominees to the one-mile race. Other nominees include Trinniberg, winner of the Swale (GIII) and Bay Shore (GIII); Del Mar Futurity (GI) winner Drill; Vinery Racing Spiral (GIII) runner-up Holiday Promise; Iroquois (GIII) winner Motor City; and Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner Shared Property. The fillies nominated to the Trial are Santa Ynez (GII) winner Reneesgotzip and Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) winner In Lingerie.
Team Valor International’s Howe Great, winner of Gulfstream Park’s Palm Beach (GIII), and Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Transylvania (GIII) winner Silver Max, head 61 3-year-olds nominated to the 21st running of the $200,000-added American Turf Presented by Ram (GII), a 1 1/16-mile Oaks Day race on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Other accomplished nominees include Rushaway winner Flashy Dresser; Illinois Derby (GIII) runner-up Morgan’s Guerrilla; Scatman, third in the Rebel (GII); Gung Ho, third in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI); and Heavy Breathing, third in the Vinery Racing Spiral (GIII).
The 57th running of the $100,000-added Eight Belles Presented by ACS, A Xerox Company (GIII), a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies on Kentucky Oaks Day, drew 37 nominations headed by Comely (GIII) winner Broadway’s Alibi, winner of her last four races by a combined margin of more than 32 lengths; and Yara, the upset winner of the Davona Dale (GII) at Gulfstream Park. Other possible Eight Belles contenders include Fantasy (GII) runner-up and Kentucky Oaks hopeful Amie’s Dini; Kentucky Oaks candidates and The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial nominees Reneesgotzip and In Lingerie; Schuylerville (GIII) winner Georgie’s Angel; Jemima’s Pearl, third in the Fantasy; Beaumont (GII) runner-up Sacristy; and Dearly Precious winner Singlet.
James M. Miller’s Jenny Wiley (GI) winner Daisy Devine; Marketing Mix, Glen Hill Farm’s winner of the 2011 Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs; Flaxman Holdings’ Aruna, winner of the 2011 Spinster (GI) and the 2010 Mrs. Revere; and Martin Schwartz’s Zagora (Fr), winner of Saratoga’s 2011 Diana (GI), are among the brightest stars on a list of 32 fillies and mares ages 4 and up nominated to the 27th running of the $200,000-added Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by American Commercial Lines (GII). Others nominated to the Kentucky Derby Day event include Inglorious, who defeated males in the 2011 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine; Check the Label, winner of the 2010 Garden City (GI); Tapitsfly, winner of Gulfstream Park’s Honey Fox (GII) and the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; Buena Vista (GII) winner City to City; and Hooh Why, winner of the 2009 Ashland (GI).
Nominees to the 18th running of the $125,000-added Twin Spires Turf Sprint Presented by GE – Appliances and Lighting (GIII) on Derby Day feature a pair of former winners in Vinery Racing’s Regally Ready and Carl Moore Management’s 8-year-old veteran Chamberlain Bridge. The Steve Asmussen-trained Regally Ready won the 2011 renewal of the five-furlong race for 4-year-olds and up on the Matt Winn Turf Course and returned to Churchill Downs in November to take the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII). Trainer Bret Calhoun’s Chamberlain Bridge won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2010 and has competed in three renewals of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint. He has a win, a runner-up finish and third-place run in those outings. Other nominees include 2011 Twin Spires Turf Sprint runner-up Bridgetown; Commonwealth (GII) winner Lonesome Street; Shakertown (GIII) winner Perfect Officer; and veteran turf runner Strike Impact.
Nominees to the 27th running of the $150,000-added Edgewood Presented by Kentucky National Insurance are headed by a 2011 Breeders’ Cup champion in Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Stephanie’s Kitten, who took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) and Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (GI) on synthetic Polytrack in 2011. Other nominees to the mile and a sixteenth grass race for 3-year-old fillies include Jessamine (GIII) winner Somali Lemonade; Demoiselle (GII) winner Disposablepleasure; Herecomesthebride (GIII) winner Dayatthespa; Hollywood Starlet (GI) winner Killer Graces; Valdale winner Lotta Lovin; and Suncoast winner Wait Til Dawn.
Complete lists of nominations to the 13 stakes events schedule during the April 28-May 5 Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week 2012 can be viewed online at http://www.churchilldowns.com/stakes-schedule.