BOREL GETS FIRST SPRING MEET RIDING TITLE – Jockey Calvin Borel popped the gate on opening day by winning five races and never looked back in winning his first Spring Meet riding title at Churchill Downs.
“That first day felt good, but it is a long meet and you never know what will happen,” said Borel, who won an outright Fall Meet title in 1999 and shared Fall honors in 2006 and 2009. “But I have ridden here so long, it is like being in my yard and I am happy here.”
In addition to the most number of wins, Borel led all riders with five stakes victories, starting opening day with Hurricane Ike in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Grade III) and coming back a week later to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on Super Saver. The latter victory for Borel was an unprecedented third triumph in four years in the “Run for the Roses.”
"I’ve had a good meet. I rode some good horses and I’d like to thank the trainers for giving me the opportunities,” Borel said. “But winning the Derby, man, that made everything.”
With 49 winners entering Sunday’s final card, Borel was in position to have his second-best Spring Meet in terms of numbers with 10 mounts. Borel rode 61 winners last spring and he had 52 winners in both 2006 and 2008. He also hit the 50-win mark in 1998 with 50 and in 2001 and 2002 when he had 51 in both years.
Other stakes winners Borel rode were defending Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Fleur de Lis (GII), Atta Boy Roy in the Churchill Downs (GII) and Ailalea in the Dogwood (GIII).
Borel will take some time off after the meet ends and before heading to Saratoga for that meet that begins July 23.
LOCUST GROVE WINNER DANZON SARATOGA BOUND – Trainer Jim Baker was still shaking his head in amazement Sunday morning after Danzon prevailed in a six-horse photo finish in Saturday’s one-mile Locust Grove Handicap (GIII).
"I thought for sure we got beat,” Baker said. “You get caught up in all the emotion after the race and then the camera showed the four (Acoma) and 90 percent of the time, those guys are right.
“Then they put up the 6-9, and I thought I was the nine.”
Baker claimed Danzon for $80,000 for owner Alfred Nuckols Jr., and this was the 7-year-old mare’s first start in his care.
“I am just glad she ran so well,” Baker said. “I have lost a lot of close ones, but even if you get beat a nose, you know you ran well. She will go to Saratoga for sure and we will look around and see what they have up there.”
Happiness Is, who finished a nose back in second and Keertana, who was fifth beaten three noses and a neck, were both doing well Sunday morning according to Fergus Bogle, assistant to trainer Tom Proctor who was in Chicago where his Snow Top Mountain ran second in Saturday’s Arlington Oaks (GIII).
"Happiness Is may to go Canterbury for the race she won last year (the $100,000 Lady Canterbury at a mile on the turf on July 24)),” Bogle said. “Keertana is still on track for the Beverly D. (GI on Aug. 21). She had a wide trip and still only got beat a half-length.”
The Beverly D. also remains the target for favored Acoma, who finished fourth beaten two noses and a neck.
“I thought she ran a good race,” trainer David Carroll said. “It was just her second race back, she was giving weight and just got beat a neck. I am not disappointed at all. I don’t think she saw the horses on the outside and I think that she thought she had won.”
Carroll said that Acoma would remain here until just before the Beverly D, run at 1 3/16 miles, a distance Carroll says is more to Acoma’s liking.
PURE CLAN TO RESUME GALLOPING MONDAY MORNING – As exercise rider Steve Schmelzel brought Pure Clan off the track after jogging a mile, trainer Bob Holthus sported a broad smile.
“She looks a lot happier out there than she was all last year,” Holthus said as Pure Clan bucked her way back to Barn 32. “She will start galloping again tomorrow.”
Owned by Lewis Lakin, Pure Clan has been battling a bruised left front foot this spring. She refused to train the morning of May 6 and the 5-year-old mare was given time off at Lakin’s farm in Versailles and spent time on an aqua-tread.
“She has been on the treadmill for 45 days, so it won’t be that long until she works,” said Holthus of Pure Clan, who returned to the barn Thursday and has jogged the past two mornings. “So far, I like what I see from her.”
Pure Clan, who has compiled a career record of 8-4-3 in 16 races with earnings of $1,987,498, has not raced since a runner-up finish to Midday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) last November at Santa Anita. That race, scheduled for Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, is the ultimate goal for Pure Clan who will spend the summer here.
"We are going to try to make the Flower Bowl (GI),” Holthus said of an October race at Belmont Park that Pure Clan won last year. “That would give us the best chance to make the Breeders’ Cup.”
BARN TALK – Maggi Moss’ final starter of the meet, Don’t Shoot, rewarded Moss with her ninth winner of the meet and a two-win cushion over Ken and Sarah Ramsey entering the final day of the meet. The Ramseys, winners of the past five meet-leading owner titles and a record 16 overall (eight Spring and eight Fall), picked up their seventh winner of the meet in Saturday’s fourth race with Custers Last Stand. The Ramseys have six horses entered Sunday. Moss’ lone Churchill Downs leading owner title came in the 2007 Spring Meet. …
Steve Asmussen, who swept the training titles at both meets in 2009, rode the victory by Kantharos in the Bashford Manor (GIII) to open a 24-18 advantage on Dale Romans and clinch at least a tie for the title. Eyeing his fourth Spring Meet title and eighth overall, Asmussen has five horses entered Sunday and Romans has six. …
Shaun Bridgmohan was blanked Saturday, keeping his Churchill Downs victory total at 297. Bridgmohan is named on six mounts Sunday in his bid to become the 19th rider to reach 300 victories at Churchill Downs. …
Trainer Neil Howard reported that Dogwood Stable’s Lou Brissie probably would head to Saratoga after his runner-up effort on Kantharos in the Bashford Manor. “He is fine this morning,” Howard said of Lou Brissie, who suffered his first loss in three starts. “That was a good colt that beat him and we knew that going in.”
WORK TAB – Hull, winner of the 2009 Derby Trial (GIII), worked a half-mile in :47.60 over a fast track, fastest of 63 at the distance. … Colizeo, winner of last month’s Northern Dancer (GIII), worked a half-mile in :48.40, fourth best of the morning at the distance.