Coming off a third-place effort in the Spinster (Grade I) at Keeneland in her last outing, Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan will look to return to her winning ways in Saturday’s $200,000-added Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs for trainer Dale Romans.
While Romans is in California with a string of four Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, his assistant Baldemar Bahena is watching over his training stable under the Twin Spires.
Molly Morgan, a 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, will bid for her third graded stakes victory of 2014 this Saturday.
“She came out of her last race fine,” Bahena said. “She’s a nice mare and she’s been training well here at Churchill since.”
Bahena thought the move to keep Molly Morgan on her home track made sense as opposed to shipping her to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
“I think they just wanted to keep her at home instead of sending her to the Breeders’ Cup,” Bahena said. “Had she won the ‘Win and You’re In’ race at Keeneland, it might have been a different story.
“The Breeders’ Cup fields are always tough. If she ran at Santa Anita I’m sure she would have done fine, but you have a Grade II here at her home track, with some of her regular competition maybe in California, so it makes sense to me at least to run her here.”
Both the first and second-place finishers from the Oct. 6 Spinster, Don’t Tell Sophia and Ria Antonia are entered in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI). Don’t Tell Sophia also defeated Molly Morgan in the Sept. 6 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs.
Bahena said regular rider Corey Lanerie would get the call Saturday for Molly Morgan, who has won six of 26 starts and earned $522,163.
“We look for her to run well and we’re excited for Saturday,” Bahena said.
FLINT CAMPAIGNING PAIR OF STAKES RUNNERS THIS WEEKEND
Trainer Bernie Flint is looking for a big weekend from his pair of female stakes runners in Kazmi Cheema and Chowhan Racing LLC’s Anahauc and LTB Inc and Miles Childers’ Honey Hues.
Honey Hues is entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Chilukki (GII) and Anahauc is entered in Friday’s $58,000-added Dream Supreme but Flint mentioned that Anahauc also would be entered in the Chilukki with Honey Hues.
“I’m also going to enter her in the race Saturday, the Chilukki, with Honey Hues,” Flint said. “It will ultimately be the owner’s decision on Anahauc so we’ll see. But they’re two separate owners so it won’t be a problem running them against each other.”
Anahauc, who has run in sprint races for the majority of her career, went 1 1/16 miles in her last two starts, resulting in a third-place effort on turf in the River Cities at Louisiana Downs, and a runner-up finish on dirt most recently, in the Mari Hulman George at Indiana Grand.
“It’s very hard to find sprint races for older mares that are worth anything,” Flint said. “We’ve done a lot of running with her, and a lot of winning, but we mainly just wanted to add to her earnings in these last two. She’s actually entered in the sale on November 3 at Fasig-Tipton, so we’re not exactly sure what will happen after that but it’s the owner’s decision and we’ll wait and see.”
Honey Hues, who won the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap on June 7 at Churchill Downs and followed it with another stakes victory in the Ellis Park Turf. She then ran ninth in the Girls Inc. of Shelbyville Shelby County at Indiana Grand, and was most recently eighth in an allowance on the turf at Keeneland.
“This mare has a hard time with heat,” Flint said. “In the summer time she just doesn’t run as well; that’s the bottom line. It’s supposed to be very cold this weekend, so she should be in good shape.”
Honey Hues has won 10 of 23 starts and earned $326,560 and Anahauc has four victories from 21 starts with $227,878 in earnings.
The Dream Supreme is the eighth of 10 races this Friday with a post time of approximately 5:45 p.m. ET. The Chilukki will go as the ninth of 10 races Saturday with a post time of 7:25 p.m. ET.
APPREHENDER LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK IN BET ON SUNSHINE
Coming off a sixth-place effort in the June 27 Iowa Sprint Handicap, Dream Farm LLC’s Apprehender seeks a return to top form in Saturday’s $58,000-added Bet On Sunshine at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Chris Richard, Apprehender started off the year with a win in the King Cotton at Oaklawn, and followed that by placing either second or third in three more stakes.
Richard said the 5-year-old gelded son of Posse didn’t run his best race in his last outing in the Iowa Sprint.
“He just didn’t run his best race,” Richard said. “The racetrack was a little wet that day and he really just didn’t take to it that well. There was no point where he really got into that race.
“Over time he has developed a different running style, where he likes to settle early and then make a run late. Earlier on in his career he would try and get to the lead right away. In his last race, he just didn’t make a run.”
When asked the reason for giving Apprehender such a long layoff, Richard responded, “He came out of the last race okay; he was just a little body sore, so no major concern but we just thought he could use a little extra time off.”
The Bet On Sunshine will be the first start for Apprehender at Churchill Downs, but Richard said he has taken to the track well in training.
“Everything’s been good,” Richard said. “He’s trained well and breezed well since being here. He’s kind of an old pro and I’ve been really pleased with how he’s looked going into the race.”
Richard himself is coming off an impressive September meet at Churchill Downs, where he won five races and tied for third-place in the trainers’ standings.
“Sometimes you just have to get lucky,” Richard said. “We won our first five races and I think we picked the right races to go to. But everything has to work in your favor to stay competitive on a circuit like Churchill Downs. I think we’ll be competitive in the spots we’re in. I’m also going to have a few younger horses that will be making their first starts so we’ll see. I don’t know that we can duplicate our performance from September but I certainly think we’ll be competitive.”
Richard captured his first win of the Churchill Downs Fall meet with Como Se Llama in Wednesday’s third race.