BOREL HAPPY WITH SUPER SAVER, PREAKNESS POST – A winner of three of last four runnings of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), jockey Calvin Borel will bid Saturday for his second consecutive victory in the $1 million Preakness, the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, aboard WinStar Farm’s Derby winner Super Saver.
Borel is scheduled to ride in eight of Thursday’s nine races at Churchill Downs, then boards a flight to Baltimore and Pimlico Race Course, where hopes to help keep the Triple Crown hopes of owner/breeder WinStar and trainer Todd Pletcher alive. Super Saver was installed as the 5-2 favorite for the Preakness and the son of Maria’s Mon drew post eight in a field of 12 3-year-olds.
“I’m very happy,” Borel said Thursday at Churchill Downs. “I worked him the other morning and Todd was very pleased. “He galloped out good, switched leads perfect right at the eighth pole. You can’t ask for a better place.”
Last year, Borel abandoned longshot Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to ride Kentucky Oaks (GI)-winning filly Rachel Alexandra in the 1 3/16-mile second jewel of the Triple Crown. Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormack’s future Horse of the Year and Borel held off the late-running Mine That Bird to take the 2009 Preakness. His 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, James Tafel’s Street Sense, was nipped at the Preakness finish by future two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
Four of the horses that faced Super Saver at Churchill Downs – third-place Derby finisher Paddy O’Prado, beaten favorite Lookin At Lucky, Dublin and Jackson Bend – are back for another try at Borel’s Derby winner in the Preakness, with seven horses stepping into Triple Crown competition for the first time.
“We’ve got a couple of new shooters, but I don’t think they’ve got the class this horse has,” Borel said. “What I like about this colt is he’s peaking. He’s lightly-raced coming into here, but I think that’s a big plus. It might not be, but in my opinion I think it is.”
Borel and agent Jerry Hissam continue to limit media opportunities for the popular rider in the days leading up to the Preakness. Those limits are to allow Borel to maintain focus on Saturday’s goal: to win the Preakness and take dead aim three weeks later on the Belmont Stakes (GI) with a chance to become the first 3-year-old to sweep the elusive Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
“We’re going to go out there and try our damndest to win it,” Borel said. “If we can get away with this one, we’ll worry about the next one. But we’re just going to worry about this one now.”
Borel will ride at Pimlico on Friday and Saturday in a light schedule that includes the mount on favored Tidal Pool for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (GII) for 3-year-old fillies.
HOT MARGOLIS HAS HIGH HOPES FOR COOL BULLET – One of the hottest trainers thus far at Churchill Downs hopes that playing it cool will pay off in Saturday’s featured ninth running of the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes.
Steve Margolis started Thursday’s race with five victories – one win back of current leading trainer and two-time Eclipse Award-winner Steve Asmussen – and will look to improve that total Saturday when he saddles Robert and Lawana Low and Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet in the seven-furlong Winn.
The gelded son of Preakness winner Red Bullet returns to competition six weeks after a 4 ½-length romp in the $50,000 Hansel at six furlongs on Polytrack at Turfway Park. The victory was the third in seven races for Cool Bullet, who had tried the Kentucky Derby trail over the winter, but returned to one-turn distances following an eighth-place finish to Conveyance in Oaklawn’s Southwest (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles.
“We thought the Hansel would be a good race to get him back on course, as opposed to the [one-mile The Cliff’s Edge] Derby Trial (GIII) and it worked out really well,” Margolis said. “He couldn’t be training any better. We’ve had four really nice moves over the track.”
Calvin Borel rode Cool Bullet in the Hansel, but will be at Pimlico on Saturday to ride Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in the Preakness. Brian Hernandez Jr., who was aboard Cool Bullet in his first five starts, will be back in the saddle for the Matt Winn. Cool Bullet’s five foes include Iroquois (GIII) winner Thiskyhasnolimit, winner of last fall’s Iroquois (GIII) at Churchill Downs and the beaten favorite in the $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) won by Super Saver, and the John Sadler-trained Privilaged, a good third to D’Funnybone in Gulfstream Park’s Swale (GII) at the Winn distance of seven furlongs last out.
That’s a lot of quality in a six-horse field, but Margolis likes the chances of Cool Bullet in the Winn, a race Margolis just missed winning a year ago when he saddled Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein’s Cash Refund to a runner-up finish behind Capt. Candyman Can.
“He’s a nice little gelding,” Margolis said of Cool Bullet. “He trains very good, he’s a very handy little horse and does everything right.”
Cash Refund, last year’s Winn runner-up, continues to train toward a run in the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) at six furlongs.
Margolis is also looking at plans for the Kleins’ 3-year-old Stay Put, an allowance winner on Kentucky Derby Day that is being considered for a run in the Belmont Stakes (GI), the third jewel of the Triple Crown on June 5. He said the Broken Vow colt is nominated to the $125,000 Northern Dancer (GIII) on June 12 at Churchill Downs, but a bid by the Kleins for the 1 ½-mile Belmont is very possible.
The horse is improving,” Margolis said. “You only get so many chances to run in the Belmont. We’re just going to wait and see what happens out of the Preakness. We’ve got the Northern Dancer in our backyard, too, so we don’t really have to make any decisions now.”
VETERANS TOP LOUISVILLE HANDICAP NOMINATIONS - Former victors Brass Hat and Silverfoot top the 33 nominees for the 73rd edition of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) to be run Saturday, May 22 at 1 ½ miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Fred F. Bradley’s Brass Hat will be looking for his first victory since taking the 2009 Louisville Handicap for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. Brass Hat recorded a second place finish in his last start, the Elkhorn Stakes (GII) at Keeneland on April 23.
Chrysalis Stables LLC’s Silverfoot, at age 10, looks to regain his winning form as a previous winner of this race in 2005 and ‘06. One of two three-time winners of the Louisville, the salty veteran is just $52,000 shy of hitting the $1 million mark with $948,365 in earnings for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Other notable nominees include Lothenbach Stables Inc.’s Bearpath, who two starts back took the Pan American (GIII) at Gulfstream Park, and Johanna L. Glen-Teven’s Musketier (GER), the winner of the Elkhorn Stakes.
PREAKNESS STAKES FESTIVITIES AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Advanced wagering on the Preakness Stakes will be offered all day Friday at Churchill Downs, plus the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Double – similar to the Oaks/Derby Double – will connect Friday’s Grade II, $175,000 Black Eyed Susan and Saturday’s $1 million Preakness.
The pageantry of the Preakness Stakes will be featured prominently at Churchill Downs on Saturday with the simulcast of the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown from Pimlico.
The first 5,000 fans attending Churchill Downs will receive a free Super Saver/Calvin Borel commemorative button in the paddock area while supplies last. Also, Black-Eyed Susan specialty drinks will be on tap at Churchill Downs at select locations, plus Dixieland and Big Band music will be performed in the paddock area and Millionaires Row 4 and 6.
Additionally, the Crab Derby returns as select customers will be in crab costumes competing in races throughout the day, with the final being held on the Matt Winn Turf Course immediately after Race 7.
Post time for the Preakness Stakes simulcast is 6:15 p.m. ET, which immediately follows the 11th and final live race at 5:58 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY’S SEVENTH RACE TO HONOR OLMSTEAD – For the second consecutive year, Churchill Downs will run the Chuck Olmstead Memorial on Preakness Stakes Day to honor the memory of the popular Louisville telvision newsman who passed away in March 2009 after an aneurysm ruptured in his brain.
The second annual Chuck Olmstead Memorial will be run as Race 7 on Saturday at approximately 3:57 p.m. ET.
Olmstead, who was a 34-year veteran at WHAS-11, was a longtime fan of Thoroughbred racing. Both he and his signature hat were broadcast fixtures in the Churchill Downs paddock on Kentucky Derby.
With tremendous encouragement from the community, Chuck’s widow, Candy Olmstead, has established a special fund in her husband’s memory through Norton Healthcare Foundation to support screenings and education provided by Norton Neuroscience Institute. These screenings will help detect aneurysms before they rupture, increase awareness of symptoms of ruptured brain aneurysms and, perhaps, save lives in the process.
More information can be found and pledges can be made online at ChuckOlmsteadFund.com.
TURN 3 TO PERFORM DURING FRIDAY HAPPY HOURS – This week’s “Dress to Impress” Friday Happy Hours from 4-7 p.m. in Churchill Downs’ paddock area will showcase live music by Turn 3, $2 Budweiser Select, $2 mojitos and $2 hot dogs. Also, one male and one female deemed “most stylish” will a $100 wagering voucher and $250 gift certificate to a local Louisville area boutique, respectively.
ASHER WILL BE SPECIAL ‘GET IN THE GAME WITH JILL BYRNE’ GUEST – Churchill Downs vice president of racing communications John Asher will be Saturday’s “Get in the Game with Jill Byrne” special guest. Byrne and Asher will provide insight and analysis of the Preakness Stakes plus select races at Pimlico Race Course and Churchill Downs. The half-hour program will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the paddock area and will be televised on television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.
WEEKLY HANDICAPPING CONTEST WILL OFFER PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES – This spring’s “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest at Churchill Downs will offer $4,000 in prize money each week and five prize packages to compete in the Horseplayer World Series in Las Vegas.
First prize each week will be $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.
The popular handicapping contest will begin this Sunday and continue every Sunday through June 13.
The “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest is a game of skill that tests the player’s ability to handicap Thoroughbred racing. Each contestant will start the day with a $24 imaginary bankroll and may only wager exactly $2 to win and $2 to place on six designated races from Churchill Downs.
The contest costs $30 per entry ($25 for Twin Spires Club members) and is limited to 400 entries with a limit of three entries per person. Registration will be open Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse.
BARN TALK – Churchill Downs based jockeys Robby Albarado (four mounts), Calvin Borel (three mounts including Super Saver in the Preakness), Garrett Gomez (eight mounts, including Dublin in the Preakness) and Julien Leparoux (eight mounts, including Pleasant Prince in the Preakness) will be riding at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.
WORK TAB (Main: FAST … Turf: FIRM, dogs up) – Louisville Stakes (GII) winner Atta Boy Roy zipped four furlongs under jockey Calvin Borel in :47.20, the fastest work of 26 at the distance … Three-time Louisville Handicap (GIII) winner Silverfoot breezed five furlongs on turf in 1:03.20 … Lost Aptitude breezed four furlongs on turf in :49.40 for trainer Dale Romans … You Go West Girl breezed three furlongs on turf in :37.60 for trainer Tom Proctor.