Stoneway Farm’s Ahh Chocolate shipped back to trainer Neil Howard’s stable at Churchill Downs after a third-place effort in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) at Pimlico behind the Dale Romans-trained Keen Pauline and Include Betty, who bounced back after a troubled eighth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). This was Ahh Chocolate’s first career loss, but nevertheless Howard said he was very happy with the homebred daughter of Candy Ride.
“She came out of the race real good,” Howard said. “That [slow pace] didn’t help her but we were more than pleased. With that kind of a race with such a lightly raced filly, we were more than pleased.”
Howard went on to say that he hasn’t thought about where the filly would run next, but that he is looking at many different options for her, one of which includes the $300,000 Mother Goose (GI) at Belmont Park on June 27.
“We haven’t stamped anything yet, but we’re thinking about all of the appropriate 3-year-old filly races,” Howard said. “I’ve got to talk to Mr. [Jim] Stone and Terri [Burch]. I think the Mother Goose is on our radar with as good as she ran yesterday. But it’s definitely a step forward yesterday.”
AMERICAN TURF WINNER DIVISIDERO BACK TO WORK – Gunpowder Farm LLC’s Divisidero returned to the work tab on Friday morning breezing a half-mile in :49 flat on the main track. This was the homebred son of Kitten’s Joy’s first work since his triumph in the American Turf (GII) on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 2. Trainer William “Buff” Bradley was happy with the colt’s work.
“[I was] very pleased, he really finished up strong and we’re just letting him stretch his legs basically because he was needing to do something,” Bradley said. “He came back just like he always does like he hadn’t done anything and that’s what we were looking for. When he comes back from a work he doesn’t even take a deep breath, he’s just cool as can be, his ears are forward, and he’s looking around like ‘Let’s do something,’”
Bradley previously stated that he has the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (GI) on July 4 in mind with one race in between now and then. He stated that he still plans on aiming for the 1 ¼-mile turf event at Belmont Park. Although he hasn’t made any decision on his next start, he stated that the $500,000 Penn Mile (GIII) or the $200,000 Pennie Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park are both options for Divisidero. Both races are run on May 30.
“That [Belmont Derby] is still the plan, but we haven’t really decided on a race yet,” he said. “He’s nominated to a race up at Belmont [Pennie Ridge] and to the Penn Mile so were kind of looking at those at options.”
Bradley went on to discuss both of these races and that he would like to stretch Divisidero out in distance. The Penn Mile is a sixteenth of a mile shorter than his last start, and the Pennie Ridge is run at 1 1/8 miles. Divisidero has yet to run at a distance that far.
“The only thing about the Penn Mile is that I really don’t want to back him up to a mile,” Bradkey said. “I’d like to keep stretching him out. The race in New York is at nine furlongs so that stretches him out a little bit, too. The Belmont Derby is a mile-and-a-quarter so were really kind of hoping to get there.”
DEPARTING PREPARES FOR RETURN AND FIRST STEPS ON TURF – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing returned to the work tab on Friday morning, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.80 on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Trainer Al Stall Jr. stated that this was the homebred son of War Front’s first time ever stepping foot on turf, and that his work was an “absolute success.”
“He came out very well, the best thing about it was the way that he worked, he did everything great,” Stall said. “Robby Albarado came out and worked him and said he definitely liked the surface, there was no gray area there whatsoever.”
Stall said that he plans on running the 5-year-old gelding in the $65,000-added Opening Verse overnight stakes on Friday, May 30 run at 1 1/16 miles on grass. His last start took place last November when he ran a well-beaten seventh in the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI).
“Sometimes a horse will work well on the turf and then get out there and not run well and he’d have to run well in the Opening Verse in order for me to think about anything else going forward,” Stall said.
Elsewhere, Medal Count, eighth in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, joined Al Stall Jr.’s barn at the Fair Grounds this last March and looks to make his 2015 debut later on during the Churchill Downs meet. The son of Dynaformer retuned to the work tab on Tuesday breezing a half-mile in :51.20 over the main track. He made his most recent start last September in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) at Belmont Park, where he finished seventh.
“We’re looking for an allowance race in the last book here in June at Churchill Downs,” Stall Jr. “They’ve got one tomorrow with the same conditions so if that race comes back in three or four weeks, hopefully we can hit it.”
FAMILY ADVENTURE DAY IS SUNDAY – Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger returns to Churchill Downs on Sunday for a Churchill Charlie birthday bash and bike helmet giveaway by Kosair’s Children’s Hospital. General admission to Churchill Downs is $3 but wristbands that include admission are required to access Family Adventure Day activities. They can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com for $8 until 10:45 a.m. Sunday or $10 at the gate on the day of the event. One dollar of every ticket purchased will benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
WORK TAB – Forum Racing IV’s Birdatthewire returned to the work tab Saturday morning breezing five furlongs in 1:00.20 for trainer Dale Romans. This was the daughter of Summer Bird’s first work since her fourth-place finish in this year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). Also for Romans on the work tab was W.D. Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan. The daughter of Ghostzapper worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 in her first work since taking the La Troienne (GI) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.