Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan, who collected her third graded stakes win of the year on Saturday with a 2 ¼-length victory in the $237,510 Chilukki (Grade II), exited the one-mile race for fillies and mares in good order and will be pointed to the $200,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) on Thanksgiving Day, according to Dale Romans’ chief assistant Baldemar Bahena.
“She came out of the race in good shape,” Bahena said Sunday morning. “If everything goes according to plan she’ll be back in the (Nov. 27) Falls City later on in the meet.”
Molly Morgan finished seventh as a 27-1 outsider in last year’s Falls City but has shown her top form under the Twin Spires since then, winning the Chilukki and $216,200 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) with seconds in the $327,000 La Troienne (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day and $108,200 Locust Grove.
Overall, the 5-year-old daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper has won seven of 26 starts and earned $662,407.
WEIGHTS RELEASED FOR SATURDAY’S GRADE III RIVER CITY HANDICAP
Weights for Saturday’s 37th running of the $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III) have been released and seven-time graded stakes winner Silver Max is the 122-pound high weight for the 1 1/8-mile turf race.
Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ 5-year-old Silver Max, a $1.9 million earner, has been lightly campaigned in 2014 with only three starts. In his first start of the year, he rolled to a 1 ¾-length win in the $224,800 Firecracker Handicap (GII) over the Matt Winn Turf Course in June – his second win in three starts on grass at Churchill Downs. Most recently, he was fifth beaten four lengths by Wise Dan in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 4.
The 5-year-old tuned up for the River City on Thursday with a half-mile breeze on turf in :49.80.
In addition to Silver Max, trainer Dale Romans has three-time graded stakes winner Guys Reward (119 pounds) eying the River City.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti also has two River City likely starters: Villandry (118), who will cut back in distance after finishing third in the 1 ½-mile Sycamore (GIII) over soft going at Keeneland on Oct. 16, and last year’s runner-up Set the Sail (114).
Other likely starters according to Churchill Downs’ stakes coordinator Dan Bork: Plainview (117), Fixador-BRZ (117), Greengrassofyoming (116), Gentleman’s Kitten (115) and Hamp (115).
An interesting River City nominee is Live Oak Plantation’s Za Approval, the Christophe Clement trainee who was scratched as an also-eligible from Saturday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita. Plans for the versatile 6-year-old gelding were unclear.
Entries for the River City Handicap will be taken Wednesday morning.
TALENTED BRAZILIAN FIXADOR LIKELY TO MAKE U.S. DEBUT IN SATURDAY’S RIVER CITY
Saturday’s $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III) could mark the U.S. debut of a Fixador-BRZ, a multiple Group I winner in Brazil.
Owned by Stud Vicenza LLC, Fixador broke his maiden early in 2013 and proceeded to dominate the Brazilian racing circuit the same year, notching six victories from eight starts, including four Group I events on the grass.
Fixador was sent to the to the barn of Eduardo Caramori at the start of this year with the goal of competing in the Arlington Million (GI). But Caramori said things didn’t go according to plan.
“We’ve had him since the beginning of the year,” Caramori said. “He was a really nice horse in Brazil, but had a minor problem after his last race down there. So we got him at Palm Meadows early this year and were pointing to the Arlington Million (in mid-Auguest), but he had another minor setback that kept him from returning that quickly.
“Now it’s like we’re just trying to come back somewhere. Because he was so successful in Brazil, he’s not eligible to come back in any sort of allowance race in the U.S., so we’re looking for a place to start with him and we think the River City might be the spot. It’s the only race on this circuit that makes sense for him before we move our operation down south.”
Caramori will move his horses to Palm Meadows in south Florida at the beginning of December. His home base is the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, where he said weather conditions lately have not been ideal for training.
“The weather has been bad for training this week,” Caramori said. “Like here in Lexington, the track is frozen, so it’s not really ideal. But as I said, we do think we want to get a race in before moving down to Florida so hopefully we can get him to the River City. That’s the plan.”
Caramori said he will see how this week goes for the 4-year-old colt by Crafty C.T., but ultimately they have big plans for Fixador.
“He’s a good horse,” Caramori said. “He has the mentality and the demeanor of a good horse and the stride of a good horse so we are excited to get him back to racing. We have big plans for him if we can keep him sound.”
Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Medal Count and Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart headline a cast of 28 3-year-olds nominated to the 11th running of the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) on Nov. 15. The 1 1/16-mile race for sophomores shares top billing with the $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies.
Medal Count, who has banked $476,850 with a record of 12-3-2-1, will cut back to 1 1/16 miles in the Commonwealth Turf after a narrow runner-up finish in the $230,417 Dueling Grounds Derby on Sept. 6 over 1 5/16 miles at Kentucky Downs and a well-beaten seventh in Belmont Park’s $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) at 1 ½ miles three weeks later. The Dynaformer colt trained by Dale Romans returned to turf for those races after a campaign that included runs in the Kentucky Derby (eighth), Belmont Stakes (third) and Haskell Invitational (ninth).
Canadian-bred Heart to Heart was an impressive gate-to-wire, four-length winner of the $110,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) on Sept. 27 for trainer Brian Lynch. Prior to that, the English Channel colt wired foes at Saratoga in the $100,000 Better Talk Now. Overall, his record is 11-4-1-2—$263,325.
Other Commonwealth Turf nominees include the Michael Matz-trained Bashart, the $262,000-earner who is a two-time Grade III runner-up including a three-quarter length loss to Divine Oath in the $150,250 Kent (GIII) at Delaware Park on Sept. 20; Wallyanna, upset winner of the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (GII) at Saratoga for trainer Michael Pino; and the Wayne Catalano-trained Solitary Ranger, the 2013 Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner who hopes to rebound from a flat eighth place finish in August’s $67,000 Straight Line over Polytrack at Arlington.
NOMINATION REMINDER – Nominations for the 41st running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (Grade III), a 1 1/8-mile turf test for fillies and mares, closes Wednesday. On the horizon, horsemen have until Wednesday, Nov. 12 to nominate for 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 – Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey entered Sunday’s 10-race at Churchill Downs needing one victory to collect their 400th win beneath the Twin Spires. They had Scrumpdilicious, who was second in Race 3, and had one other starter on the day: 7-5 morning line favorite Sayler’s Creek in Race 7 (post time: 3:36 p.m.). … Ken Ramsey will celebrate his 79th birthday on Monday … Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who will turn 29 on Monday, began Sunday one win shy of joining the 300-win club at Churchill Downs. He was winless with his first two mounts but had rides in Races 8 (4:06 p.m.), 9 (4:37 p.m.) and 10 (5:07 p.m.). …Robby Albarado needed two victories Sunday to become the third jockey to win 1,000 races at Churchill Downs. He was winless with his first two mounts but was scheduled to ride in Races 7 (3:36 p.m.), 8 and 9. … Trainer Bret Calhoun can win his 100th Churchill Downs race on Sunday with either Donoharm in Race 8 or Wild About You in Race 10. …
EVENTS NEXT WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – After Sunday, racing at Churchill Downs resumes Wednesday with a 10-race card at 12:40 p.m. … Pigskins and Ponies returns in the Plaza for the final four Saturdays of the Fall Meet with college football games 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 from the Plaza Grill. Churchill Downs will offer free admission to college students every Saturday with a current student I.D. … Next 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 – Sunday’s worktab at Churchill Downs included breezes by Mrs. Revere nominees Lady Lara-IRE (five furlongs in 1:02.60 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott), the $200,000 Pebbles winner at Belmont Park; Secret Someone (four furlongs in :48 for Mott), who was eighth in the Pebbles; QE II Challenge Cup (GI) trailer Speed Seeker (five furlongs in 1:05.60 for Joan Scott); and Pucker Up (GII) runner-up V V Goodnight (four furlongs in :48 for Tom Proctor), who was most recently fifth in the $150,000 Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland. … Other notable Sunday workers included 2-year-olds Cinco Charlie (five furlongs in 1:01.80 for Steve Asmussen), the winner of the Bashford Manor (GIII) and First State Dash Stakes; Matron (GII) seventh Empressive Humor (five furlongs in 1:01.80 for Asmussen); and Grey Stakes (GIII) fourth Flashaway (four furlongs in :48.20 for trainer Mark Casse). … Kentucky Derby 16th-place finisher Harry’s Holiday (five furlongs in 1:01.80) led a brigade of Mike Maker-trained stakes performers on the Sunday worktab at Trackside Louisville (CDT). His others were Always Kitten (1:01.40), Dark Cove (1:02), Gentleman’s Kitten (:48.80), Longhunter-GB (1:02.60), Magna Breeze (:49.20), Right On Kitten (1:02), Sassy Kitten (:48.60) and Shanon Nicole (1:02.60).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Jockey Corey Lanerie won four races Saturday at Churchill Downs: Teniente Coronel ($4.20) in Race 2, War Story ($30.60) in Race 5, Tempers Flair ($9.20) in Race 8 and Molly Morgan ($4.20) in the featured Chilukki (GII). The five-time leading rider at Churchill Downs took an 8-7 lead over Shaun Bridgmohan in the local jockey standings. Lanerie’s last two victories were for trainer Dale Romans, who has a 5-3 edge over Mark Casse in the trainer’s standings.… Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas not only lit up the toteboard in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Take Charge Brandi ($125.40), he scored with 20-1 bomber Vigorish ($43.80) in Churchill Downs’ Saturday nightcap. … Golden Soul, runner-up to Orb in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, finally scored the second win of his 18-race career with a 2 ¼-length win Saturday in a first-level allowance at 1 3/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. … Trainer Ron Moquett won with a 2-year-old for a second time in as many days. The Scat Daddy filly Martz won an off-the-turf, one-mile maiden special weight on Friday. The next day, War Story, a Northern Afleet gelding, debuted with a 2 ¾-length triumph in 1:25.33 for seven furlongs. … In addition to Ramsey and Hernandez, trainer Tim Glyshaw will celebrate his birthday on Monday. He turns 46. … Miguel Mena will turn 28 on Thursday, and Calvin Borel celebrates No. 48 on Friday.