“We’re leaving later today for New York so we can get settled in and ready for everything,” said Allen, who never has been to Belmont Park where Mine That Bird will try to take down the 1 ½-mile final jewel of the Triple Crown.
Sunday marked the first time Allen had seen Mine That Bird since the gelding’s runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes (Grade I) on May 16.
“It looks like he has put on a little weight,” said Allen, whose first Belmont Stakes recollection was Secretariat’s 31-length romp in 1973 when he was 15 and grooming horses at Santa Fe. “For as hard as he has run and the shipping, I am real happy with the way he looks.”
With regular exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up, Allen led Mine That Bird to the track around 7:30 a.m. Figueroa backtracked Mine That Bird to the paddock runway and then galloped 1 ½ miles.
“He was a little more into the bit today,” trainer Chip Woolley said. “That should set him up for his breeze tomorrow. He’ll work a half-mile and gallop an eighth past the wire with Calvin (Borel) on him right after the break..”
Woolley leaves for New York early Tuesday morning and Mine That Bird flies out the next day.
Also scheduled to work Monday is Rachel Alexandra, who went twice around the main track early Sunday morning with exercise rider Dominic Terry up.
BOLD START HAS RESTFUL MORNING DAY AFTER ARISTIDES WIN – Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start had an easy morning at Barn 6 after his 2 ¾-length victory over Semaphore Man in Saturday’s Grade III Aristides.
“I don’t know what it is, but he loves this track,” said Billy Wright, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek. “I told Paul McGee (who saddled Success Success in the Aristides) that they’d have to run 1:09 to beat him and he won in 1:09 flat.”
The 5-year-old son Jump Start has posted a main track record of 4-2-2 in nine races with earnings of $202,902. Bold Start’s only off-the-board finish came in his racing debut when he ran fifth on June 4, 2006. For good measure, Bold Start won both of his starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Bold Start isn’t the only family member to run well at Churchill Downs. His half-sister, Lady On Holiday, never lost beneath the Twin Spires in three starts with two wins coming on the main track and one on the turf.
Lady On Holiday fractured a sesamoid this winter at Gulfstream Park and was retired and bred to Jump Start, which will make the resulting foal a three-quarters sibling to Bold Start.
APPRENTICE REYES ROLLING IN FIRST SEASON AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Christian Santiago Reyes did not waste any time in finding the winner’s circle when he began his riding career in April at Gulfstream Park. The 19-year-old native of Puerto Rico won on his second mount on April 12.
Instead of staying in Florida, Reyes came north to Kentucky where he rode in two races at Keeneland. When the Lexington track wrapped up its meet, he traveled to Churchill Downs where Reyes has won 10 races from 73 mounts.
“Wesley Ward asked me to come up here and I will go anywhere with him,” said Reyes, whose first win came for Ward at Gulfstream Park.
Before coming to the United States in January, Reyes attended the jockey school in Puerto Rico for two years.
Reyes, who has ridden mainly for Ward and Joe Woodard, admits to being surprised by his early success here and has paid particular attention to the riding styles of Calvin Borel, Jesus Castanon and Miguel Mena.
Has he adapted the Borel knack for riding the rail?
“Not yet,” Reyes said with a laugh. “Not yet.”
After the Churchill Downs meet closes on July 5, Reyes does not have a specific track to move his tack to but he has an idea.
“Wherever Wesley Ward goes, I will go,” Reyes said.
PURE CLAN ASSIGNED TOP WEIGHT FOR EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP – IEAH Stable, Lewis Lakin and Pegasus Holding Group Stables’ Pure Clan has been assigned top weight of 122 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 33rd running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Trained by Bob Holthus, Pure Clan has won four of six career starts on grass and
her only start over the local turf course was a victory in last year’s Regret (GIII).
Second high weight is Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma, who was assigned 120 pounds. Trained by David Carroll, Acoma also is 1-for-1 on the Churchill Downs lawn by virtue of her victory in the Grade II Mrs. Revere last fall.
Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena, winner of the May 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade II), was assigned 119 pounds.
The three top weights are considered as “probable” for the Mint Julep by Huffman, along with Closeout (116), Communique (116) and Absolutely Cindy (113).
Entries will be drawn Wednesday.
MILESTONE WATCH – Trainer David Vance came up just short in his bid to become the 11th Churchill Downs trainer with 300 victories when Kiss Mine was overhauled late in Saturday’s ninth race by Keertana and Robby Albarado. The race provided Albarado with his 4,000th career victory. Vance has no horses entered Sunday.
Trainer Bill Connelly remained two victories shy of the 1,000-win career plateau Saturday night at Indiana Downs as his two runners finished third and fourth. Connelly has no horses entered at Churchill Downs on Sunday, but has one entrant Monday night at Indiana Downs: Megalos in the first race.
BARN TALK – Calvin Borel rode two winners on Saturday’s card to boost his career total at Churchill Downs to 919. Borel, who is named to ride in all 10 races Sunday, needs six victories to tie Don Brumfield for second place all time at Churchill Downs. Pat Day, with 2,482 wins, is the all-time Churchill Downs leader.
Borel’s agent, Jerry Hissam, said that Borel has secured the mount on Rutledge Farm’s Researcher for the Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) on June 13. A winner of 10 of 17 career starts, Researcher won the $500,000 Charles Town Classic on April 18 in his most recent start for trainer Jeff Runco.
Shaun Bridgmohan will have the mount on Pure Clan in Saturday’s Early Times Mint Julep. Regular rider Julien Leparoux will be riding Flying Private for trainer D. Wayne Lukas that afternoon in the Belmont Stakes (Grade I).
Jon Court also added two victories to his Spring Meet total on Saturday, scoring with T.C. Champ ($52.80) in the fourth and Finish in Style ($19.20) in the sixth. The average win payoff for Court’s 13 victories is $24.40, the highest for any rider with three or more victories.
Tara Murty, an assistant to trainer Nick Zito, was back at work at Barn 36 on Sunday morning after being injured in a traffic accident last Monday morning. Murty had sustained numerous injuries in the collision at Fourth and Central near the track.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, two-time winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), continued his preparation for the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on the main track on June 13 by working five furlongs in 1:00.40 with trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi up.
The move, accomplished early during training hours Sunday, was the fastest of 30 at the distance.
“He went great.” Pitts-Blasi said, adding that she would likely handle Einstein’s scheduled half-mile breeze next Sunday.
Einstein was runner-up to two-time “Horse of the Year” Curlin in last year’s Foster, then won the Clark Handicap (GII) on the main track in the Fall Meet.
Also working Sunday morning was James Spence’s Flying Pegasus, runner-up to Belmont Stakes contender Charitable Man in last year’s Grade II Futurity at Belmont. Trained by Ralph Nicks, Flying Pegasus worked a half-mile in :49.40, the 20th fastest of 54 at the distance.
James Spence’s homebred son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus has not raced since a sixth-place finish behind Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby (GII). He was second to that rival in his 2009 debut in the Risen Star (GIII) at Fair Grounds.