RAVI’S SONG RETURNS TO DIRT IN THURSDAY’S FALLS CITY – Ravi’s Song, runner-up to Deluxe in the Cardinal Handicap (Grade III) on the Matt Winn Turf Course, will switch back to the dirt for $175,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII), the Thanksgiving Day racing centerpiece at Churchill Downs.
“I think she’s going to run well,” trainer Carl Bowman said. “She’s a three-time stakes winner on the dirt, so she’ll have no problem with the surface. I think she’ll show she can switch back-and-forth (between turf and dirt).”
A 5-year-old gray/roan daughter of Unbridled’s Song, Ravi’s Song has raced six times on the main track at Churchill Downs and sports a record of 2-1-1 with earnings of $93,683. She has an assigned weight of 117 pounds for Thursday’s 96th running of the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.
“She’s run really well here (at Churchill Downs),” Bowman said. “The only bad race she ran was in the La Troienne (GII) on (Kentucky) Oaks Day, but she faced some pretty nice fillies that day in Blind Luck and Unrivaled Belle.”
Ravi’s Song, who was fourth to Dundalk Dust in last year’s Falls City, competed on turf for the first time in her runner-up finish to My Baby Baby in the Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs in June. She followed that strong grass debut with second-place finish to Romacaca in the Matchmaker (GIII) at Monmouth Park and was then given some time off before her run in the Cardinal.
“There was no scientific reason for putting her on the turf,” Bowman said. “She had trained well over it and there wasn’t a stake on dirt that really fit her. After she ran so well (in the Mint Julep), we decided to keep her on the grass for her next couple of starts. The purse money is better on the dirt and she will probably make her following start on the dirt at Fair Grounds, so that’s why she’s back on the main track.”
Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s Ravi’s Song will remain in training following the Falls City; however, Friday will mark the end of her 5-year-old campaign.
“She’s definitely going to run as a 6-year-old,” Bowman said. “She’ll remain in training, but won’t make a start until next year. I gave her some time off after the Matchmaker, so she’s already had her break. We’ll find something for her at Fair Grounds in January or February.”
CASUAL TRICK HAS ZITO THINKING OF FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY – Flash back to a year ago and many Churchill Downs racing fans will easily recall an impressive racing debut by Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In, who overcame a poor start and significant traffic woes to win his first outing and immediately established himself as a horse to watch on the road to the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Dialed In lived up to his strong early reviews and entered the starting gate as the betting favorite for Derby 137, but he finished eighth behind Team Valor International’s victorious Animal Kingdom.
So it should be no surprise that there was a tinge of déjà vu in the air during Friday’s “Downs After Dark” racing card when the Zito-trained Casual Trick carried LaPenta’s racing colors to an emphatic 2 ½-length win under jockey Jesus Castanon in a one-mile maiden race for juveniles. It was the second career start for Casual Trick, who finished fifth after pressing the pace in his six-furlong debut at Saratoga on Aug. 27.
With two wins in the Kentucky Derby to his credit, Zito’s mind never wanders far from thoughts of Churchill Downs and the first Saturday in May. So it was easy for the New York-born Hall of Fame trainer to connect the early fortunes of Dialed In and Casual Trick after the latter’s stylish win on Nov. 18.
“He was doing really well and we were looking for a shorter race, but the mile race came up and we decided to go in there,” Zito said. “He ran a really good race and the fact that he won at a mile kind of puts us ahead of where we might have been with him.”
Casual Trick has a pedigree that suggests the Kentucky Derby could be right down the bay ridgling’s alley. He’s by 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini out of Casual Look, a Red Ransom mare who took the 2003 renewal of Britain’s Group I Vodaphone Epsom Oaks for breeder William S. Farish. Casual Look’s victory for the master of Kentucky’s Lane’s End Farm in the 1 ½-mile race for 3-year-old fillies came during Farish’s service in London as U.S. Ambassador to England.
“Bernardini is one of the hottest sires out there, and being out of one of Mr. Farish’s mares, you know there’s quality there,” Zito said. “We like to bring our horses to Churchill Downs in the fall and it’s worked well for us. Dialed In is a good example of why we like to come here.”
Dialed In’s Nov. 12 debut last year was the only race of his 2-year-old season. He launched his 3-year-old campaign with a stretch-running victory in the Jan. 11 Holy Bull (GIII) at Gulfstream Park, and later won the Florida Derby (GI) over that track. The son of Mineshaft went to the sidelines with an injury after a fourth-place finish to behind Shackleford and Animal Kingdom in the Preakness (GI).
Zito said Casual Trick would probably have a racing timetable similar to his campaign with Dialed In, with a first outing against winners likely sometime in January at Gulfstream.
Another Kentucky Derby hope for Zito could emerge in Saturday’s $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), the co-feature on the Nov. 26 Stars of Tomorrow II program devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds. He plans to saddle Tracy Farmer’s homebred Saint Honore in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club.
A son of Farmer’s Sun King, who finished 15th to Giacomo as one of five Zito-trained runners in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, Saint Honore rallied to score a narrow maiden victory on Oct. 10 at Belmont Park. Saint Honore’s win came at the Kentucky Jockey Club distance in the third start of his young career.
MCGEE HOPES FOR BIG WEDNESDAY AS HE NEARS 300 HOMETOWN WINS – Louisville-native Paul McGee has saddled 295 winners at Churchill Downs and could make substantial progress in his bid to reach a personal milestone of 300 wins at his hometown track when he saddles a strong group of starters beneath the historic Twin Spires on Wednesday.
McGee has six horses entered in five Wednesday races, including heavy hitters Infrattini, Worldly and Dubious Miss. All have turned in strong performances at Churchill Downs during their careers.
Z Thoroughbreds LLC’s Infrattini could be McGee’s strongest chance on Wednesday. The runner-up to Scotus in Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn (GIII), Infrattini enters a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on the main track off a fifth-place finish to Redeemed in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. The 3-year-old son of Include is the 3-5 favorite in Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line for the race.
“He’s a nice horse and he’s doing well,” McGee said. “After the Matt Winn, I sat on him for six weeks and then ran him in the West Virginia Derby (GII), and then waited again and ran in the Oklahoma Derby. There’s no reason for giving him a lot of time in-between races other than that we’ve just tried to pick our spots with him.”
Infrattini will break from post four under Corey Lanerie in Wednesday’s seventh race.
Two races later, McGee will saddle Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly for Wednesday’s featured ninth, a one-mile allowance race on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Worldly, a 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy and full-brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Suave, will be making his first start on turf since running second in an allowance on the Matt Winn Turf Course in May of 2010. Worldly comes into Wednesday’s race off a disappointing ninth-place finish behind Headache in last month’s Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII) and a third-place run before that in the $100,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park.
“I was at the mercy of the condition book,” McGee said. “He’s still eligible for three other-than (allowances) and coming off his last two defeats I wanted to put him back in the allowance ranks to give him some confidence. The only three other-than on dirt (at Churchill Downs) is a one-turn mile and I don’t think that fits him. Also, he’s run well on the grass.”
If the race should be taken off the Matt Winn Turf Course, McGee would have another starter in the race with Dubious Miss, who is entered for the main track only. A 7-year-old gelded son of E Dubai, Dubious Miss has won eight races during a career that includes four wins on the main track beneath the Twin Spires.
“If the race comes off (the turf) then I would run both of them,” McGee said.
McGee’s other entries Wednesday include Pandering (Race 1, 4-1 morning-line), Even Forest (Race 6, 6-1) and High Quality (Race 8, 4-1).
The 49-year-old trainer, who does not have any horses entered Sunday, is confident in his entries on Wednesday and can see a 300th win beneath the Twin Spires coming rather soon.
“I’ve got a good shot to do it before the meet ends,” McGee said. “We have about ten horses left to run and they all have a chance to win.”
WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockey over the last five racing days (Nov. 12-18) is Julien Leparoux (8-for-23). Dale Romans (4-for-11) and Ken McPeek (4-for-12) are the hottest trainers over the same period. No owner has more than one win in the last five racing days.
WORKTAB – John Oxley’s Golden History breezed four furlongs in :47.80 on a “good” Churchill Downs main track Sunday morning for trainer Mark Casse. The work was the sixth fastest of 38 at the distance. Golden History, fifth in the Pocahontas (GII) in her most recent start, is being pointed to Saturday’s Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs. …
Pattons Creek Farm’s Will’s Wildcat, winner of the Jimmy V “Don’t Give Up…Don’t Ever Give Up!” at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Jimmy Baker. It was the seventh fastest work of 32 at the distance. …
Team Block’s Never Retreat, winner of the First Lady (GI) at Keeneland in her most recent start, breezed four furlongs in :48.20, the ninth-fastest half-mile breeze of the morning. Never Retreat will make her next start in Friday’s Matriarch (GI) at Hollywood Park.