Fresh off an impressive 2 ¾-length victory in the Oct. 17 Valley View (Grade III) at Keeneland, Beverly Anderson and Edward Seltzer’s Sparkling Review will put her three-race winning streak on the line in Saturday’s $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Ben Colebrook, Sparkling Review’s only loss came over muddy dirt in her maiden debut at 6 ½ furlongs when she finished fifth. Since then she has stretched out going at least the distance of a mile on turf and earned $169,475 from three wins in four starts.
“I was very impressed with her performance in the Valley View,” Colebrook said. “I was surprised with her too, not so much that she won, but surprised in the ease in which she did it against a field that tough.
“She came out of that last race great. I think she’s still an improving filly; she’s lightly raced and I think she’ll run another big one on Saturday. It’s definitely a tough spot and we’re going to improve still from her performance last time, but I think she has a lot left in the tank.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux had his first mount on Sparkling Review in the Valley View victory and will be back aboard the filly for the Mrs. Revere, breaking from post position four.
“I think we drew a good post is position,” Colebrook said. “Now that Julien has ridden her once and breezed her a couple times on the grass, I feel like he knows her better and will be able to work out a pretty good trip from that four-hole. There’s a little bit of speed to the inside and a little bit of speed to the outside, so hopefully he can work out a stalking trip from there.”
Colebrook said that while the 3-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid overcame many obstacles in winning her last three races, Sparkling Review probably will need a little bit of racing luck Saturday.
“She’s never really had a lot of racing luck,” Colebrook said. “She got kind of a rough trip at Kentucky Downs and still was able to overcome it and she had a bad draw in her last race at Keeneland and still overcame that. Julien wasn’t really wide around the first turn in the Keeneland race, but she had to go way-wide around the second turn. So she hasn’t had a whole lot of racing luck yet but I think we are going to need some on Saturday against this type of field.”
The co-featured Mrs. Revere will go as the ninth of 10 races Saturday at Churchill Downs, with an approximate post time of 4:36 p.m. ET.
HIGHBALL SEEKING FIRST GRADED STAKES WIN IN COMMONWEALTH TURF
Gary and Mary West’s Highball, well rested after scoring a Kentucky Downs allowance victory on Sept. 10, will bid for his first graded stakes victory in the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) at Churchill Downs on Saturday for trainer Wayne Catalano.
Catalano said the connections had a chance to run Highball again in between his allowance score and the Commonwealth Turf, but they ultimately decided they wanted him fresh for Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile turf event.
“We had an opportunity to run him in a two-other-than, but it was a little closer to this stake than I would have liked,” Catalano said. “Seeing as it will probably be the last 3-year-old stake of the year for us, we decided to wait it out and go with a fresh horse.”
Through five starts, Highball is 2-0-1 with earnings of $127,250. His past running style has been to start toward the back of the pack and rally late, but Catalano said he thinks the son of Lemon Drop Kid will be a little closer to the pacesetters on Saturday.
“There’s some speed in the race, which I think works in our favor,” Catalano said. “He’ll be a little closer to the front at a racetrack like Churchill. Even though he won that last one, I don’t think he cared for the racetrack at Kentucky Downs that much. That European-style track is a little different, I guess. I think he’ll be a little closer to the pace Saturday than he has been and we’ve been happy with his training, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Highball will have jockey Channing Hill in the saddle Saturday for the Commonwealth Turf, which goes as the seventh of 10 races with an approximate post time of 3:37 p.m. ET.
LUKAS SEEKING TURF STAKES DOUBLE WITH PAIR OF SATURDAY RUNNERS
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will seek a turf stakes double with Zayat Stables LLC’s Courageous Julie entered in the $200,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) and Calumet Farm’s De Facto in the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII) at Churchill Downs this Saturday.
Courageous Julie is coming off back-to-back allowance victories on the dirt, most recently at the distance of seven furlongs on Oct. 24 at Keeneland. While Lukas admitted that the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile has shown a preference to dirt, the conditioner said he wanted to give her another race this year and that she had earned another chance to face stakes fillies.
“I wish this race wasn’t on the turf; I think she’s a little better on the dirt but again she’s doing pretty well and we thought we’d try her one more time this year,” Lukas said. “The turf is getting pretty dry so maybe it will be a little more like a dirt course on Saturday. We’ll see. She ran so well in her last two that we wanted to give her another chance versus stakes company.”
Courageous Julie has competed in four stakes events this year, with her best efforts coming as fifth-place finishes in the $150,000 Edgewood at Churchill Downs and the Grade III Fantasy at Oaklawn Park.
With regards to De Facto, Lukas said that he also deserved an opportunity to contend in a stakes event and noted that horses generally start to show significant change at this time of year.
“He needs to step up but this time of year is when horses really start to change a lot,” Lukas said. “We’re going to give him an opportunity; we’re not planning to blow anybody away or anything but we thought he deserved this opportunity.”
Lukas also recognized the Commonwealth Turf as a significant step forward for the son of Dynaformer, but said the race would be a good measuring stick either way.
“We’ll get a better feel for where he is after this race,” Lukas said. “We understand that this is a big-time step forward for him, but with this being the end of the grass season so to speak, we thought we’d give him a shot.
“But he’s been working great in his training and everything we just need to get a better performance out of him.”
De Facto will break from post position four in the Commonwealth Turf with jockey Jon Court aboard and Courageous Julie will be ridden by Joe Johnson, breaking from post 10.
INDOOR ENTERTAINMENT FOR FRIDAY’S DOWNS AFTER DARK: SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED
Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester returns to Churchill Downs on Friday night with the special theme being “Shaken, Not Stirred.” – a nod to James Bond films.
Martinis, silhouette dancers, movie villains, live music and more await in an ambiance that exudes class and understated cool at Downs After Dark: Shaken, Not Stirred.
Gentlemen are encouraged to don tuxedos with bow ties or tailored suits for an understated cool. For the ladies, a cocktail or evening dress will help steal the spotlight from your international man of mystery.
With cool temperatures expected, it’s important to note that all guests will have free access to “The Classic Lounge” – an interior pop-up spy-themed cocktail lounge located on the second floor of the Clubhouse that will feature live musical performances by Homegrown (3 p.m.), Allison Bray of NBC’s The Voice (6:30 p.m.) and Endless Summer Band (7 p.m.). Contests include Oddjob Hat Throwing (5:05 p.m.), Nerf Gun Sharpshooting (6 p.m.) and Best Dressed (8:10 p.m.). Also, the official artwork for Kentucky Derby 141 will be revealed at 6:30 p.m. followed by a print signing with artist Kimberly Santini in the Churchill Downs Store from 7-8 p.m.
Indoor seating is still available at ChurchillDowns.com/tickets, including the 21-and-over VIP Skye Terrace, which will be located in the spacious Skye Terrace 4.
Gates open Friday at 3 p.m. and the first race is 4:30 p.m. The 10th and final race is scheduled for 9:08 p.m. but the party in “The Classic Lounge” and VIP Skye Terrace will continue until 10:30 p.m.
MILESTONE WATCH – Robby Albarado, who was awarded his 1,000th Churchill Downs winner when Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards uploaded a ruling Saturday on their web site (http://khrc.ky.gov/Rulings/14-0081.pdf), is still waiting to celebrate that significant milestone with a winning ride. He had seven scheduled mounts on Thursday. The only other jockeys to win 1,000 races at Churchill Downs are Pat Day (2,482) and Calvin Borel (1,170).
RECENTLY-RETIRED ROSIE NAPRAVNIK TO BE HONORED SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Recently retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, who made history at Churchill Downs by becoming the first and only female rider in the 140-year history of the track to win the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), will be honored for her career accomplishments in a special ceremony scheduled on Saturday.
Napravnik will be honored in the track’s every day winner’s circle after Saturday’s sixth race, which has been dubbed “The Run for Rosie” in her honor. Post time for the race is scheduled for 3:08 p.m. ET.
The 26-year-old native of Mendham, N.J. made history at Churchill Downs when she piloted Believe You Can to win the 2012 Kentucky Oaks, becoming the first woman to ride a winner of America’s premiere race for 3-year-old fillies. She won the race again this year, piloting Untapable to a commanding victory in its 140th running.
On Oct. 31, Napravnik won the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita with Untapable, then moments later stunned the racing world by announcing that she was pregnant with her first child and would retire from riding after Breeders’ Cup competition on Nov. 1. She is married to Churchill Downs-based trainer Joe Sharp, who opened a public stable earlier this year, and Napravnik said she would be working to help build her husband’s stable until the baby’s arrival neared.
Saturday’s Churchill Downs celebration of Napravnik’s meteoric rise and the impact of her career will include a special 4-K Big Board video presentation of some of her most notable triumphs. Other special recognition for Napravnik and presentation of gifts from the track and others are also scheduled.
MORE EVENTS THIS WEEK: Because of cold temperatures, Saturday’s drink specials for Pigskins and Ponies ($2 Bud/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $1 Pepsi products and bottled water) will be available indoors in the Lower Club near the paddock. The featured college football games, shown on select TV monitors and the Plaza video board, will be Ohio State at Minnesota (12 p.m.) and Kentucky at Tennessee (4 p.m.). Churchill Downs will offer free admission to college students every Saturday with a current student I.D. … Sunday marks the return of the “Who’s the Champ? Betting Challenge” in the ITW area on the second floor of the Grandstand. The entry fee is $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members). Registration is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Churchill Downs Lounge. $2 Win/Place mythical wagers on Races 3-8. First prize: Fully paid spot in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas (includes a four-night stay in the Orleans Casino plus a $250 travel voucher). Second prize: $500 cash voucher. Third prize: $250 cash voucher. … Churchill Downs is offering free general admission to active or retired members of the United States armed services on Saturday and Sunday this week.
ON THE WORKTAB – Multiple graded stakes-winner Departing recorded a bullet workout, traveling a half-mile in :48, the fastest time of 49 other workers at the distance. His trainer Al Stall Jr. said the 4-year-old gelding by War Front is possible for the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 28. … Multiple graded stakes winner I’m Already Sexy breezed five furlongs on the turf in 1:00.60 beneath the Twin Spires on Thursday. … Tiz Windy, winner of the Grade II Indiana Oaks in her last start, worked five furlongs in 1:03.80 for Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger.