CURLIN SET TO RETURN TO CHURCHILL DOWNS ON MONDAY - Reigning "Horse of the Year" Curlin, fourth to Raven's Pass in the Breeders' Cup Classic (Grade I) on Saturday at Santa Anita, is scheduled to return to trainer Steve Asmussen's barn at Churchill Downs on Monday, Oct. 27.[asset|height=12|width=100]

A flight carrying the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike from southern California is scheduled to touch down around 11 a.m. (EDT) at Louisville International Airport.

Curlin grabbed the lead in the stretch, but did not display his normal closing punch in the final yards as he finished worse than third for the first time in his career. 

The Steve Asmussen-trained champion, whose Churchill Downs races include a win in this year's $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and a third-place finish behind Street Sense in the 2007 running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), earned $255,000 for his fourth place finish to push his North American record for career earnings to $10,501,800. 

His career racing record now stands at 11-2-2 in 16 races. 


RACHEL ALEXANDRA BACK, PREPS FOR POCAHONTAS - Veteran trainer Hal Wiggins has trained for owner Dolphus Morrison for 26 years and their partnership has produced some wonderful moments, with many highlights focused on the versatile stakes-winning sprinter Morris Code.

But Wiggins and Morrision are hoping for even bigger thrills with a 2-year-old filly in their care.  Her name is Rachel Alexandra, and she's being pointed toward next week's $100,000-added Pocahontas Stakes (GIII) for 2-year-old fillies.  The one-mile race will be co-featured with the $100,000-added Iroquois (GIII) on the first of Churchill Downs' two "Stars of Tomorrow" programs on Nov. 1.  The second of those special racing cards devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds is set for Nov. 29, the meet's closing day.

Rachel Alexandra displayed great promise in the Spring Meet when she scored a 1 ½-length victory in a strong maiden race on June 13.  She returned with a troubled runner-up finish to Garden District in the $100,000 Debutante (GIII) at Churchill Downs that had Wiggins dreaming of a big summer for his new star.

But summer plans for the filly soon went on hold when she suffered a minor injury that sent her to renowned equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage for a round of surgery.  But she returned to racing on Oct. 17 with three-length allowance victory over Polytrack at Keeneland, and that effort put the homebred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro on course for a return to stakes competition in the Pocahontas.

"She had a little small chip in the left ankle, and Dr. Bramlage took it out and we gave her some time," said Wiggins.  "I was very pleased with her race at Keeneland.  You always have a question when they're going back after a two-to-three month layoff, and off of surgery also.  She had been training like she'd run like that, but you never know until you put ‘em in the gate.  But I was very pleased, and I was pleased with the way she came out of it."

Rachel Alexandra tuned up for Saturday's race with a three-furlong work in :37 over a "fast" track on Sunday at Churchill Downs.  Jockey Brian Hernandez, who has ridden the filly in all four of her career starts, was in the saddle for the work, which was the fastest of 10 moves at the distance on the cool October morning.

Wiggins trained Rachel Alexandra's dam, Lotta Kim, who finished second to Be Gentle in the 2003 Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs.  He believes his current star has the potential to be special.

"I haven't had a lot of really good horses, but she's probably as good a horse as I've ever trained," he said.  "She does everything right.  She's got a good head on her and, right now, she really seems sound.  So we have high hopes, but in this business you just keep your fingers crossed and take one step at a time."

Wiggins said he would likely start another Morrison homebred, Abbot Hall, along with Rachel Alexandra in the Pocahontas.  The daughter of El Corredor ran second on dirt in her debut at Ellis Park before she scored back-to-back wins on turf in an Ellis Park maiden race and the $150,000 Happy Ticket Stakes at Louisiana Downs. She finished fourth to Laragh in her most recent start in Keeneland's Jessamine on turf.

"She ran a nice race first time out at Ellis Park on the dirt, and there's really no other spot for her," said Wiggins.  "She's ready to do something, so I think we're going to ahead and run her in there also."

She completed her preparations for the Pocahontas was a four-furlong breeze on Sunday in :49, which ranked 17th out of 108 works at the distance

Abbott Hall has earned $113,236 in her four races, while Rachel Alexandra has earned $79,814 in her four starts.


NOMINATIONS UNVEILED FOR POCAHONTAS, IROQUOIS, CHILUKKI - Churchill Downs racing has released its rosters of nominees for three Fall Meet stakes races to be run under the Twin Spires next weekend.  They include the Nov. 1 renewals of the $100,000-added Pocahontas (GIII) for 2-year-old fillies and the $100,000 Iroquois (GIII) for 2-year-olds, and the 24th running of the $150,000-added Chilukee (GII) for fillies and mares ages 3 & up on Sunday, Nov. 2. 

            The Dolphus Morrison owned homebreds Rachel Alexandra, runner-up in the Debutante (GIII), and Happy Ticket Stakes winner Abbott Hall head the list of 29 2-year-old fillies nominated to one-mile Pocahontas.  Others include Tom Walters' Pretty Prolific, third in the Adirondack at Saratoga; Helen Alexander and Helen Groves' Selva, the runner-up in the Sorority at Monmouth Park; Silverton Hill's Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies winner Corlett; Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Complicity; L.T.B. Inc.'s More of the Best, runner-up in the Bassinet at River Downs; and Livin Lovin, runner-up in Woodbine's Mazarine (GIII).

            The 31 2-year-olds nominated for the 28th running of the one-mile Iroquois include Winchell Thoroughbreds' Kentucky Cup Juvenile (GIII) runner-up Retap; Courtlandt Farm's Gresham, third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile; and Puglisi Racing's Forty Thieves, the unbeaten winner of the NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park.

            Other Iroquois nominees include Zayat Stables' Star of David, third in the Summer (GIII) on turf at Woodbine; Advice, third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII); Darley Stable's Majestic Blue, fourth in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (GI) at Keeneland; and Phosphorescent, fourth in the Sanford (GII) at Saratoga.    

            Millennium Farms' defending winner Rolling Sea heads a collection of 31 older fillies and mares nominated to the one-mile Chilukki.  The Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Sefapiano is winless in five races this year, but finished second to Hystericalady in the Molly Pitcher (GII) at Monmouth Park.

            Other notable fillies and mares nominated to the Chilukki include Baroness Thatcher, a narrow loser to Intangaroo in the Humana Distaff (GI) at the Chilukki distance on Kentucky Derby Day; Chicago Breeders' Cup (GIII) winner Leah's Secret, fourth to Cocoa Beach in the Beldame (GI) last time out; Rampart (GII) winner Spring Waltz; Sweet Goodbye, whose victory in the Maryland Million Oaks at Laurel was her fourth consecutive win; Swift Temper, winner of the Gardenia (GIII) at Ellis Park; and Unforgotten, runner-up to Bear Now in the Kentucky Cup Distaff (GIII).

BARN TALK - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, the all-time leader in victories and stakes wins by a trainer at Churchill Downs, enters the Fall Meet within reach of a significant milestone.  Mott is closing in on 600 career victories under the Twin Spires.  He opens the 26-day racing session with 592 victories.


WORK TAB (Track: FAST) - Gardenia (GIII) winner Swift Temper breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 for trainer Dale Romans, the second-fastest move of 44 at the distance ... Taletobetold breezed four furlongs in :52.60 for trainer Eddie Kenneally ... U.D. Ghetto breezed four furlongs in :50.60 ... Unforgotten, runner-up in the Kentucky Cup Distaff (GIII), breezed four furlongs in :48 - the third-fastest work of 108 at the distance ... Capt. Bullet Bob, a recent maiden winner at Hawthorne and a nominee to the Iroquois, breezed five furlongs in 1:01, the day's fastest move at the distance.


           Through Sunday, July 6
Jockeys                          Starts   1-2-3

Robby Albarado                  288  73-44-41

Miguel Mena                       365   65-49-52

Julien Leparoux                306   56-56-51

Calvin Borel                        302  52-42-39

Jamie Theriot                     293   48-38-41

Shaun Bridgmohan             232   44-44-32

Jesus Castanon                   274   30-28-31

Corey Lanerie                    236   22-34-30

Brian Hernandez Jr.            211   18-30-23

John McKee                       152   14-22-20


Tom Amoss                       87   35-15-13

Steve Asmussen                145   30-27-21

Ken McPeek                      87    26-14-11

Mike Maker                        73    21-14-12

Dale Romans                    150   20-27-25

Ian Wilkes                          56    15-13-7

Eddie Kenneally                  65   12-10-11

Paul J. McGee                     54    12-8-7

Steve Margolis                    52    11-7-11

Greg Foley                         70   10-11-9

Cody Autrey                       58    10-9-11

Robert O'Connor II              24    10-3-5

D. Wayne Lukas                  66    10-2-6

Bret Calhoun                       26    10-2-5      


Ken and Sarah Ramsey         76   20-11-17

Maggi Moss                         34     15-7-5

Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein   41    10-7-7

Zayat Stables, LLC                56    9-12-11

Jay Em Ess Stable                 23     6-4-2

Heflin & Driver Racing           29     5-5-6

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable       17     5-1-0

     Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins


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