BACK INJURY SIDELINES LEPAROUX; EYE INFECTION DERAILS BOREL – It appears the spill that jockey Julien Leparoux took last Friday in Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan (GII) was more serious than initially believed.
He has a compression fracture of the T-8 in the middle of his back,” said Steve Bass, Leparoux’s agent. “He had an MRI done Tuesday and that’s when the fracture was discovered. He will be out a week and a half to two weeks.”
Currently the second-leading rider at the meet with 13 victories, Leparoux was hurt Friday when his mount in the Black-Eyed Susan, Diva Delite, clipped heels approaching the far turn and threw Leparoux. Leparoux honored all of his commitments Saturday at Pimlico and Sunday at Churchill Downs, where he rode two winners.
“Julien was still sore when he got back here and when we went to the doctor he didn’t think it was anything major,” Bass said. “I told him it was something that needed to be tended to before it turned out to be something that could affect him long term.
“It is the first time he has been hurt and I hope it is the last.”
Meanwhile, leading rider Calvin Borel was off all of his mounts Thursday because of an eye infection.
“He is off today and maybe Friday, but he hopes to be back Saturday,” Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam said.
Borel, who has ridden 22 winners here this spring, has a huge lead in the jockey standings in his bid for the first Spring Meet leading rider title. He has won one Fall title outright and shared two others.
Borel has 995 victories beneath the Twin Spires and trails only Pat Day (2,482) in Churchill Downs triumphs.
STAY PUT WORKS SIX FURLONGS IN 1:14 FOR BELMONT – Bertram, Richard and Elaine Klein’s Stay Put had his final Churchill Downs work in preparation for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (GI), final jewel of the Triple Crown, by working six furlongs in 1:14 under jockey Jamie Theriot.
Fractions for the move over a fast track after the renovation break were :13, :26, :38.60, :50.60, 1:02.40 and out seven furlongs in 1:27.
“He galloped out really strong,” said Theriot, who has been aboard Stay Put in his past six starts. “I think we’ve got a big chance. The longer I can sit on him, the better off we’ll be.”
Trainer Steve Margolis, who never has had a Belmont Stakes starter, liked what he saw of the work from the grandstand.
“It was very good. Jamie said he finished well and I got him galloping out in 1:28 and a mile in 1:42,” Margolis said. “He will ship to Belmont next Thursday, train Friday and then work a half-mile Saturday or Sunday.”
Stay Put won a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer on May 1 after having finished fifth, beaten fewer than three lengths, in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds.
"We always thought he had talent,” Margolis said. “Jamie says he never seems to get tired and his Derby Day race was impressive in the way he did it.”
Richard Klein is eagerly anticipating the shot at the Belmont.
“I think we have a colt going in the right direction,” Klein said. “Typically, we don’t do this. We would normally be looking at the $125,000 race (the Northern Dancer) here next month, but you have to take a shot.”
EIGHT BELLES WINNER BUCKLEUPBUTTERCUP HEADS DOGWOOD NOMINATIONS – Avalon Farms’ Buckleupbuttercup, who romped to a 6 ¼-length victory in the Eight Belles (GIII) on May 1, tops a list of 22 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 36th running of the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) at a mile on the main track on May 29.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Buckleupbuttercup is undefeated in two starts at Churchill Downs, having broken her maiden for a $30,000 claiming tag in her debut last November.
Among the nominees are four fillies that competed in the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on May 1 that was won by Blind Luck.
Topping the quartet is Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, who was fifth in the Oaks. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Ailalea is 2-for-2 at the mile distance with one of the victories coming in the Tempted (GIII) last fall Aqueduct.
The other Oaks runners are Mark Stanley’s two-time graded stakes winner Quiet Temper, who was eighth in the Oaks; Twin Creeks Farm, Sky Chai Racing and Bluegrass Equine Center’s Age of Humor (12th) and the Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew (13th).
Entries for the Dogwood will be taken Wednesday.
DEFENDING CHAMP DUBAI MAJESTY TOPS WINNING COLORS NOMINATIONS – The Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Dubai Majesty, winner of the 2009 Winning Colors (GIII), heads a list of 25 sprinters for this year’s renewal of the six-furlong dash for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up to be run May 31.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Dubai Majesty has compiled a record of 11-5-4-0 at six furlongs. In two starts at the distance this year, Dubai Majesty ran second, beaten a nose over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint, and second in the Pan Zareta over dirt at Fair Grounds to Winning Colors nominee Double Espresso.
Now 5, Dubai Majesty finished ninth in the Humana Distaff (GI) on May 1 in her most recent start. Other Winning Colors nominees coming out of the Humana Distaff are Pretty Prolific (second), Warbling (fifth), Double Espresso (sixth) and Rated Fiesty (eighth).
No 3-year-old has won the Winning Colors, but included among the two sophomore nominated this year is Grace Stables’ Hot Dixie Chick. Winner of the Grade I Spinaway last year, Hot Dixie Chick is 2-for-2 at the six-furlong distance. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Hot Dixie Chick finished third in the Eight Belles (GIII) on May 1 in her most recent start going 7 ½ furlongs on a “sloppy” track.
BARN TALK – Donald Dizney’s Preakness (GI) runner-up First Dude is scheduled to leave Friday afternoon for New York and an anticipated start in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (GI) according to trainer Dale Romans. Romans said no plans have been confirmed for the next start for Paddy O’Prado, who finished sixth in the Preakness after running third in the Kentucky Derby (GI). …
The past two winners of the Churchill Downs (GII) – Accredit (2009) and Atta Boy Roy (2010) – headline a list of 19 sprinters nominated to the 22nd running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) to be run May 29 at six furlongs on the main track. Other graded stakes winners among the nominees are three-time Grade III winner Custom for Carlos and 2009 Derby Trial winner Hull. Bold Start won the 2009 Aristides. …
Nominations close Saturday for the 34th running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 5. Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma won the 2009 Early Times Mint Julep.
MILESTONE WATCH – Trainer Dale Romans, with 494 victories at Churchill Downs, has one entrant Thursday: Dream Only of Me in the ninth race. Only Hall of Famer Bill Mott has more Churchill Downs victories (628) than Romans.
WORK TAB – Tom McCarthy’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) winner General Quarters worked a half-mile in :48.60, seventh-fastest of 30 at the distance. West Point Thoroughbreds’ 2009 Stephen Foster (GI) winner Macho Again worked five furlongs in 1:00.60, eighth best of 22 at the distance, and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Alysheba (GIII) winner Arson Squad covered the same distance in 1:01.20, 10th best of the morning.
SONGS FOR TUESDAY TO PERFORM AT THIS WEEK’S “DRESS TO IMPRESS” FRIDAY HAPPY HOURS – Fashion forward horse racing fans can once again look to Friday’s “Dress to Impress” Friday Happy Hours from 4-7 p.m. in the Churchill Downs paddock area. Songs for Tuesday will be providing live music for patrons to enjoy in between races, plus there will be drink and food specials, including $2 Anheuser Busch draft beer, $3 Bacardi 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. This week’s boutique is Clodhoppers. Weekly winners will be invited back for the finals on Friday, June 25 for a chance to win a shopping spree in Chicago, which includes hotel and a $1,500 Visa gift card.
BRASS HAT’S TRAINER ‘BUFF’ BRADLEY WILL BE SPECIAL ‘GET IN THE GAME WITH JILL BYRNE’ GUEST ON SATURDAY – Trainer William “Buff” Bradley, who conditions the popular 9-year-old gelding Brass Hat, will be Saturday’s “Get in the Game with Jill Byrne” special guest. Byrne and Bradley will discuss several topics including Saturday’s feature race, the 73rd running of the Grade III Louisville Handicap, where Bradley will send out defending champ Brass Hat. The weekly 30-minute seminars offer fans an insider look at the world of horse racing every Saturday in the paddock area starting at 11:45 a.m. Also, it will be televised on television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.
PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES UP FOR GRABS IN SUNDAY’S ‘WHO’S THE CHAMP?’ HANDICAPPING CONTEST – Churchill Downs’ “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest continues every Sunday through June 13 with $4,000 in prize money and a coveted prize package to compete in the Horseplayer World Series each week.
The weekly first prize is $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas with round-trip airfare courtesy of American Airlines to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.
Ira Hopkins of Louisville was last week’s winner.
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 is open Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse.