CALLWOOD DANCER ASSIGNED HIGH WEIGHT FOR CARDINAL - Three Chimneys Racing's Callwood Dancer (IRE) was assigned top weight of 122 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 36th running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (Grade II) next Saturday at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Trained by Roger Attfield, Callwood Dancer is expected to face as many as eight rivals in the Cardinal. Callwood Dancer ran second in the E.P. Taylor (GI) in her most recent start on Oct. 4 at Woodbine.
Pin Oak Stable's Brownie Points and Earle Mack's Lady Digby were assigned 119 pounds and are considered as "probable" for the Cardinal.
Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Brownie Points ran second in this summer's Locust Grove (GIII) over the Matt Winn Turf Course. In her lone Grade I appearance this year, Brownie Points ran second to the undefeated Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park.
Graham Motion trains Lady Digby, who has been idle since running fifth in the Diana Handicap (GI) at Saratoga behind Forever Together, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI). Lady Digby has won two stakes in 2008, highlighted by the All Along Breeders' Cup (GIII) at Colonial Downs.
Other runners considered as probable or possible for the Cardinal are Ballymore Lady (116 pounds), Ciao (116), Meribel (116), Kiss With a Twist (115), Sousaphone (114) and Long Approach (113).
COMMENTATOR COMING TO TOWN ON WEDNESDAY - Trainer Nick Zito said Saturday morning that Tracy Farmer's Commentator was scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Wednesday for an anticipated run in the $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII).
"He's in New York right now," Zito said of the 7-year-old gelding who won the Massachusetts Handicap by 14 lengths in his most recent start on Sept. 20.
Commentator, a two-time winner of Saratoga's Whitney (GI), has won 13 of 20 career starts with earnings of $1,841,936.
Also joining the Zito barn at Churchill Downs next week will be Anak Nakal, winner of last fall's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII). Anak Nakal ran seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), third in the Belmont Stakes (GI) and won the Pennsylvania Derby (GII).
Already in Zito's barn here is Cool Coal Man, who ran 15th in this year's Kentucky Derby.
MAKER CONTINUES TO WIN AT RECORD RATE - The record for number of victories by a trainer at a Churchill Downs fall meet is 20, established by Dale Romans in 2003 over 27 racing days.
At the rate Mike Maker is going, that mark will be left in the dust of the dirt track beneath the Twin Spires.
Thundering Jill in Friday's second and He's Long Gone in the 10th gave Maker his 13th and 14th victories in the first nine days of the 26-day meet. Maker has opened a seven-victory lead over his nearest pursuer in the trainer's race, Ken McPeek, with Romans next with six wins.
The 39-year-old native of Garden City, Mich., has two horses entered Saturday, two on Sunday highlighted by Cherokee Triangle in the Commonwealth Turf (GIII), and three more on Tuesday's Veterans Day card.
SPECIAL VETERANS DAY RACING ON TUESDAY - Churchill Downs will host a special live racing program on Tuesday, Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day. The first of 10 live races will be 12:40 p.m. ET.
BYRNE RECALLS "ROCK HARD" DAYS AT DOWNS - The 2004 Kentucky Derby will forever be remembered as the Smarty Party featuring the undefeated Smarty Jones.
But jockey John Byrne played a role in one of the many subplots surrounding the 130th Run for the Roses serving as the exercise rider of Rock Hard Ten.
"Hard to believe it has almost been five years," Byrne said Friday afternoon before riding in the seventh race in one of his rare forays to Churchill Downs.
Rock Hard Ten came to Churchill Downs after being disqualified from second to third in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) for interference. The decrease in purse money left Rock Hard Ten with insufficient graded earnings to make the Derby field.
But Rock Hard Ten was ready to run as Byrne took the Jason Orman-trained colt to the track shortly after 6 a.m. daily for his morning regimen that began with the colt rearing up almost immediately after leaving the barn.
"He knew the cameras were going to be there and he gave them a show," Byrne said. "He was just immature at that time. We knew he had a lot of talent and would be much better as a four-year-old. He did everything so easy."
Rock Hard Ten ran second in the Preakness and then fifth in the Belmont.
"I remember they brought P Val (Patrick Valenzuela) in to work him before the Belmont and he wouldn't train," Byrne said. "He was just that way then."
Rock Hard Ten went on to win all three starts as a 4-year-old before a foot injury prior to the 2005 Breeders' Cup led to his retirement. Rock Hard Ten won seven of 11 starts and closed his career with earnings of $1,870,380. His first crop will be 2-year-olds in 2009.
The road for the 33-year-old Irishman, who won his first race in the United States in 2003 at Turf Paradise, has been ‘rock hard' since then. While the horse was starting a stud career, Byrne suffered a broken collarbone in a spill at Thistledown.
A broken hip suffered in late April this year sidelined Byrne for two months.
"I came back in July to ride a couple for John Good at Mountaineer Park," said Byrne, who rode Smiley's Cool Cat to a sixth-place finish for Good. "I am riding one here Saturday and a couple Tuesday and then head to the Fair Grounds."
BARN TALK - Trainer Angel Montano won with his first starter of the meet Friday when Family Fun LLC's Montalvo scored in the seventh race. For Montano, who began training in 1968, it marked his 316th victory at Churchill Downs, which is the sixth-best total in track history. ... Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey added to their victory total Friday with the scores by Thundering Jill and He's Long Gone. The Ramseys have 10 wins for the meet, seven more than Scarlet Stable, which has sent out three winners from three starters. Julien Leparoux rode both winners for the Ramseys and became the first rider to reach the 20-win mark during the meet. Leparoux has 21 victories and owns a seven-win lead over closest pursuer Robby Albarado.
WORK TAB - Livin the Dream Racing's Dream Empress, runner-up in the Oct. 24 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) in her most recent start, worked a half-mile in company after the renovation break under Peter Hutton in :49.60. Trainer Ken McPeek was happy with the filly's work, her first at Churchill Downs, and said she would have two more works before a run in the Nov. 29 Golden Rod (GII). ... W.S. Farish and Mrs. W.S. Kilroy's Mambo in Seattle worked five furlongs before the renovation break in 1:03.80 with a six-furlong out time of 1:17.80 in his second work since a seventh-place finish in the Fayette (GIII) for trainer Neil Howard. Runner-up in the Travers (GI), Mambo in Seattle remains under consideration for the Clark. Grasshopper, who ran second in the 2007 Travers for Howard, is "being freshened up at Keeneland and being tack-walked," according to Howard. ... West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again worked a half-mile in :53.60 for trainer Dallas Stewart. Winner of the Derby Trial and Jim Dandy (GII) and runner-up in the Preakness (GI) and Super Derby (GII), Macho Again's next major goal is the Sunshine Millions in January at Gulfstream Park. ... Koolmen Racing Stable's multi-graded stakes-placed A to the Croft worked five furlongs in 1:03 for McPeek.
SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE DOWNS - Sunday Brunch at Churchill Downs returns this Sunday. For $41.50 ($25 for children 12 and under), customers can dine and watch the Nov. 9 races from a reserved seat Millionaires' Row Six, the luxurious 9,000 square-foot room with a four-tier balcony that overlooks the finish line. The brunch, accompanied by live jazz music, is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features a wide selection of food, including stuffed French toast, eggs, maple smoked bacon, homemade biscuits and gravy, carved roast turkey, fresh salads and plenty of sides. Appetizers and a bountiful desert tray will be available until 5 p.m. Brunch and an official program is included in the admission price. Another Sunday Brunch is scheduled for Nov. 23. The reserve a spot, call (502) 636-4400.
HANDICAPPING CONTEST WEDNESDAYS, SUNDAYS - Racing fans can pit their handicapping skills against the best Louisville has to offer every Wednesday and Sunday in the popular twice-weekly "Who's the Champ?" Handicapping Contest. For a $30 entry fee ($25 for Twin Spires Club members), participants will compete for weekly cash prizes and an invitation to the Nov. 23 final where the top two finishers will win coveted berths in the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship X slated for Jan. 23-24, 2009 in Las Vegas.