DUBAI MAJESTY’S CONNECTIONS GOING FOR THIRD WINNING COLORS – One year ago, Martin Racing LLC and Morgan Thoroughbred LLC’s Dubai Majesty scored the second of her back-to-back victories in the $100,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) under Miguel Mena – a key victory in what turned out to be an Eclipse Award championship campaign.
The Bret Calhoun traineed has since retired, so there will be no bid for a Winning Colors three-peat by the talented mare. But her connections are seeking a three-peat of their own when the send Beat the Blues into the six-furlong feature on Monday’s special Memorial Day holiday card.
Beat the Blues, a 4-year-old daughter of Great Pyramid-IRE, will face a field of 10 as she makes her second start against stakes company in the eighth running of the Winning Colors.
The Florida-bred is coming into the Winning Colors off an allowance victory over the Polytrack at Keeneland. It was the first win for Calhoun with Beat the Blues, who has also won while in the barns of trainers Scott Volk, Robert Dibona, and Justin Sallusto.
Beat the Blues’ main rival Monday will be Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image, fresh off a 16-1 upset victory in the Humana Distaff (GI), her third stakes win at Churchill Downs. Trained by Dale Romans, Sassy Image will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, who currently sits atop the Spring Meet jockey standings.
The field for the Winning Colors, from the rail out (with jockey) includes Indian Ink (Fernando De La Cruz), Stephanie Got Even (Shaun Bridgmohan), Wind Caper (Jesus Castanon), Beat the Blues (Miguel Mena), Bell’s Shoes (Kent Desormeaux), Fortune Play (Freddie Lenclud), My New Lady (Jon Court), Sassy Image (Corey Lanerie), Starlite Starbrite (Leandro Goncalves), and Jocata (Calvin Borel). All horses will carry 118 pounds, except for Sassy Image, who will carry high weight of 124.
The Winning Colors will be the ninth race of a special 10-race Memorial Day program at Churchill Downs that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). Approximate post time for the Winning Colors is 4:59 p.m.
STRONG FIELDS TAKING SHAPE FOR GRADE III ARISTIDES AND WINNING COLORS – Great racing is on tap at Churchill Downs next weekend as the racing program on Saturday, June 4 will feature a pair of Grade III stakes races in the $100,000-added Dogwood and the $100,000-added Aristides.
The latter has a attracted an impressive group of probable starters (with trainers) headed by a pair of Grade I stakes winners in Rosemary Rausch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can (Ian Wilkes), winner of the 2009 King’s Bishop, and Marianne and Brandon Chase’s Here Comes Ben (Charles Lopresti), winner of the 2011 Forego.
Twenty-three older sprinters were nominated for the 23rd running of the six-furlong Aristides, which looms as an important early prep for the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI), which will be run over main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Other Aristides “probables” include Zayat Stables’ defending Aristides winner Riley Tucker (Steve Asmussen); R.E.V. Racing’s Atta Boy Roy (Valorie Lund), winner of the 2010 Churchill Downs (GII) and runner-up in the Aristides; Richard, Bert and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund (Steve Margolis) third in the 2010
Aristides and winner of a recent Churchill Downs allowance prep for this year’s renewal; Chasing Dreams Racing’s Noble’s Promise (Ken McPeek), fifth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby (GI) and a close fifth to Aikenite in the 2011 Churchill Downs on Derby Day; Homewrecker Racing and Avalon Farm’s Custom for Carlos (Eddie Kenneally), winner of the Mr. Prospector (GIII) at Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park’s Count Fleet (GIII) in 2010, and runner-up to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama in this year’s Mr. Prospector; and Patrick Donahoe’s Posse Cat (Jinx Fires), a sharp allowance winner at Oaklawn Park in April.
Listed as “possible’ for the Aristides is Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Chief of Affairs (Bret Calhoun), fourth in last year’s Aristides and third to Smiling Tiger in the 2011 Count Fleet.
The 37th running of the Dogwood (GIII), a one mile race on the main track for 3-year-old fillies, closed May 21 with 23 nominations and its field of probable starters is headed by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s promising Might (Al Stall, Jr.), K.K. and V.D. Jayaraman’s Holy Heavens (Benard Chatters), who finished 13th to Plum Pretty in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), and Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gran Lioness (Bret Calhoun).
Might is a homebred full sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) winner Blame who brings a two-race winning streak into the Dogwood that includes an impressive allowance victory at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. Holy Heavens won Oaklawn’s Marsha Washington and finished second to Joyful Victory in the Honeybee (GIII) and third to that rival in the Fantasy (GII). Gran Lioness won the Prima Donna at Oaklawn Park and finished sixth to Grade I winner Turbulent Descent in the Beaumont (GII) at Keeneland, her first start over a synthetic racing surface.
Others listed as “probable” for the Dogwood include Angelica Zapata (Ron Pellegrini), fourth in the Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day; Fantasy of Flight (John Terranova), an impressive debut winner at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day in her only start; and Salty Strike (Ken McPeek), a narrowly beaten third in last year’s Debutante (GIII) who returned to form in a seven-length romp in a seven-furlong allowance race on May 20 at Churchill Downs.
The list of “possible” starters for the Dogwood includes Henny’s Hurricane (McPeek) and Juanita (Mike Maker).. .
Ailalea won last year’s running of the Dogwood under Calvin Borel for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Entries for both the Dogwood and the Aristides will close on Wednesday, June 1.
LOUISVILLE HANDICAP WINNER KEERTANA’S HALF-SISTER POINTS TO MINT JULEP – Trainer Tom Proctor was still on cloud nine the morning after Barbara Hunter’s homebred Keertana scored a breathtaking photo-finish win over males in the 74th running of Saturday’s Louisville Handicap (GIII).
“I was so excited last night that I couldn’t even go to sleep,” Proctor said of the first victory by a filly or mare in the history of the Louisville, which was first run in 1895.
While Proctor barn was thrilled with Keertana’s historic performance; the team hopes to make more noise in a couple of weeks with Keertana’s half-sister, Snow Top Mountain. The 4-year-old homebred daughter of Najran won the 2010 Arlington Oaks (GIII) is now being pointed to the 35th running of the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 11.
One might think that the half-sisters would have similar personalities, but Proctor says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Keertana is one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever had and Snow Top Mountain is flat-out nasty,” Proctor said. “A couple of weeks ago my friend’s seven-month-old was petting Keertana and she just loved it. You wouldn’t want to do that with Snow Top (Mountain). You have to avoid being bitten by her when you walk down the shedrow.”
The half-siblings out of Hunter’s homebred Storm Cat mare Motokiks might have differing dispositions, but Proctor has happily found that they have one thing in common.
“They can both run,” Proctor said. “They definitely share that characteristic.”
Snow Top Mountain will enter the Mint Julep off an impressive allowance victory on the Kentucky Derby (GI) undercard. The win improved her record to 4-6-0 from 12 starts with earnings of $270,102.
BARN TALK – Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux is leading the Churchill Downs jockey colony in Spring Meet stakes victories with three. Desormeaux’s stakes-winning mounts include Diva Ash in the Edgewood, Victoria’s Wildcat in the Eight Belles (GIII), and Aviate-GB in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII). Three trainers are tied for most stakes victories with two each: Preakness (GI) winner Dale Romans, whose wins came in the Humana Distaff (GI) with Sassy Image and the Edgewood; Proctor, whose Louisville ‘Cap triumph with Keertana joined an earlier victory by Banned in the American Turf (GII), and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who won the Kentucky Oaks and Alysheba (GIII) with First Dude. …
Leading Spring Meet jockey Corey Lanerie top all riders in turf victories with four. Overall, Lanerie had won with 20 of his 92 mounts heading into Sunday’s racing beneath the Twin Spires. Trainers Dale Romans and Tom Proctor have three turf wins each to lead all trainers in that category. …
The majority of Shaun Bridgmohan’s 19 wins have come in sprints. The journeyman jockey was 16-for-51 in sprint contests heading into Sunday’s 10-race program. …
Little Miss Muffet’s victory in the ninth race at Churchill Downs on Friday gave trainer Tom Amoss his third victory with a 2-year-old during the meet. Sum of the Parts and Culotte were the other winners for Amoss, who is a perfect 3-for-3 with juveniles this spring.
WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockeys over the last five racing days (May 21-28) are Corey Lanerie (9-for-35), Shaun Bridgmohan (6-for-28) and Miguel Mena (6-for-29). Brad Cox (4-for-7), Merril Scherer (3-for-7) and Steve Asmussen (3-for-15) are the hottest trainers over the same period. The hottest owners are Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. (3-for-6) and Ken Sentel and Merrill Scherer (2-for-2).
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Dundalk 5 LLC’s Dundalk Dust, upset winner of the 2010 Falls City Handicap (GII) for trainer Chris Block, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80, the third fastest move of 19 at the distance.