GET STORMY ASSIGNED HIGH WEIGHT FOR FIRECRACKER HANDICAP – Dual Grade I winner Get Stormy has been assigned the high weight of 123 pounds by Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 21st running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Monday, July 4.
Sullimar Stable’s 5-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic captured the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland in April for his first Grade I victory and followed that triumph with a winning performance in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Day undercard. Get Stormy finished a disappointing third at odds of 4-5 in his most recent start in Monmouth Park’s Monmouth Stakes (GIII).
Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops was assigned the next top weight at 120 pounds. A 4-year-old gelded son of City Zip, Workin for Hops was second to Get Stormy in the Maker’s Mark Mile prior to taking the Hanshin Cup Handicap (GIII) over the Polytrack courts at Arlington Park on May 21.
Pam and Marty Wygod’s Courageous Cat and Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, both assigned 119 pounds, are next on Huffman's Firecracker weights.
Courageous Cat, a multiple graded stakes winner with $781,300 in career earnings, won the Poker Stakes (GIII) at Belmont Park on June 10. The was his first race for the Bill Mott-trained Courageous Cat since a third-place finish to turf champion Gio Ponti in the Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland in October. The 5-year-old son of Storm Cat has five wins from 10 career turf starts.
McCarthy’s General Quarters is the other multiple Grade I winner in the field and is a likely starter for next Monday’s race. A 5-year-old son of Sky Mesa, General Quarters was being pointed to a start in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) following two impressive performances during last year’s Spring Meet. He won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on turf and followed that with a third-place run behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and champion older horse Blame in Stephen Foster (GI) on the main track.
The McCarthy-trained Kentucky-bred was knocked off last year’s Breeders’ Cup trail when he injured his left front leg following a seventh-place finish in the Grade I Arlington Million. General Quarters returned from a near 10-month layoff in a runner-up finish to Maggi Moss’ Native Ruler in a seven-furlong allowance over the main track at Churchill Downs.
Horses under consideration for the Firecracker Handicap (with their trainers, weights) include Baryshnikov (Mike Maker, 117), El Caballo (Ralph Nicks, 114), Flat Out (Scooter Dickey, 114), General Quarters (McCarthy, 117), Lubash (James Ryerson, 115), Mister Marti Gras (Chris Block, 115), Strike Impact (Pat Dupuy, 117), Wise Dan (Charlie Lopresti, 115) and Yankee Injunuity (James McMullen, 115).
FLINT POINTING STONEWAY FARM DUO TO BASHFORD MANOR – Veteran trainer Bernie Flint has a long history of success with young horses and, with four 2-year-old winners so far in the 2011 Spring Meet, he finds history repeating itself this spring at Churchill Downs.
The 71-year-old New Orleans native will attempt to keep that run of success with juveniles going when he saddles the Stoneway Farm duo of Bonaparte and Exfactor in Saturday’s 110th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor Stakes (GIII).
Bonaparte, a $30,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale purchase, won at first asking by 5 ¼ lengths under Jon Court in a May 30 maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs. The son of Touch Gold breezed four furlongs in :51.80 over a sloppy track on Sunday morning in preparation for the Bashford Manor.
“They’ll have to come running to beat Bonaparte,” Flint said.
Exfactor, purchased for $27,000 as a yearling by Stoneway at the FTK October Sale, won his second career start by 4 ½ lengths under Calvin Borel. The son of Exchange Rate finished second to Klaravich Stables Inc. and William Lawrence’s Sum of the Parts, the likely Bashford Manor favorite, in his racing debut. Exfactor also worked beneath the Twin Spires on Sunday, completing four furlongs in :48.80.
“He (Exfactor)’s a strong, solid horse,” Flint said.
If all goes well in the six-furlong Bashford Manor, Flint expects for Exfactor to be near the lead, while Bonaparte will close from the back of the pack.
“It’ll be an entertaining race and we’ll have some entertainment on the front end and entertainment in the back,” Flint said. “I think that’s how the race will go, but you never know with these baby races.”
Court, who has 19 wins at the spring meet, will ride Bonaparte in the Bashford Manor, while Borel, who has collected 25 victories, has the return call on Exfactor.
Known horses under consideration for the Bashford Manor and their trainers include Backdoor Kenny (James Divito), Bonaparte (Flint), Exfactor (Flint), Friscan (Al Stall Jr.), Green Mouse (William Denzik Jr.), Hot Speed (Ron Moquett), Lil Cherokee (Bret Calhoun), Power World (Neil Howard), Sum of the Parts (Tom Amoss) and Threanddonedan (John Salzman).
SIMMS THINKING BREEDERS CUP WITH DEBUTANTE WINNER – Barry King’s Flashy Lassie, charged down the Churchill Downs stretch Saturday to score a 17-1 upset in the 111th running of the $109,300 Debutante GIII), came out her first stakes win well and rested in trainer Garry Simms’ barn Sunday morning.
“She came out of the race fine and licked up her feed tub,” Simms said. “We’re doing good and ready to roll.”
The Debutante was the first stakes victory beneath the Twin Spires for the veteran Simms, who hopes now to add several more to that total. One stakes target already on Simms’ long-range radar is the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 4.
“The ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup,” Simms said. “I haven’t even thought about where she will run next, but we’ll look for something in about 30 or 40 days.”
Simms, who has waged a battle with melanoma since early 2010, said Saturday’s victory by Flashy Lassie was good medicine.
“All the pain leaves!” Simms said. “There’s nothing like winning a horse race.”
Flashy Lassie, purchased by Simms for $4,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October, increased her bankroll to $77,211 with the first-place check she picked up in the Debutante. Her stakes victory came in just the second start for the Kentucky-bred daughter of first-year sire Flashy Bull. She launched her career with a nine-length romp in a $20,000 maiden-claiming event at Churchill Downs on May 13.
BARN TALK – Churchill Downs-based trainer Steve Margolis, whose Barn 23 suffered the most severe damage in Wednesday’s tornado, won the Grade III Iowa Oaks with Little Miss Holly on Saturday night at Prairie Meadows for Al Gold’s Gold Square. “She (Little Miss Holly) was in Barn 23, but was not here for the storm,” Margolis said. “She flew up there on Wednesday morning so she just missed it.” …
Through the June 11 racing program at Churchill Downs, Corey Lanerie was leading the jockey standings with 34 wins from 145 mounts and Julien Leparoux was in third with 23 wins from 120 mounts. From that point Leparoux has been on a torrid streak and has won with 19 of his 44 mounts since June 12. Lanerie is only 5-for-54 from the same date. …
With two more winners on Saturday, jockey Robby Albarado now holds sole position of third place in career wins at Churchill Downs. Albarado, who has 927 victories beneath the Twin Spires, was tied for third with Hall of Famer Don Brumfield entering Saturday’s action. …
Courtlandt Farms’ Machen, winner of the $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) at Churchill Downs on April 30, will be pointed to the Grade II Amsterdam at Saratoga on August 1 according to trainer Neil Howard. “We’ll see how it goes and then hopefully go in the King’s Bishop (Grade I at Saratoga on Aug. 27). …
Sunday’s card at Churchill Downs will feature a Pick 6 carryover of $98,241. The Pick 6 will begin with Race 5 at 2:51 p.m. EDT. …
Churchill Downs will not make up Thursday’s lost day of racing, but additional races will be added to the programs next week, which is the final week of the spring meet. Three races will be added Thursday, two races Friday, two races Saturday (July 2), and one race Sunday (July 3). No races will be added to the Monday, July 4, program. …
WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockey over the last five racing days (June 17-25) is Julian Leprous (15-for-35). Ken McGee (6-for-12) is the hottest trainer over the same period. Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. (2-for-6) is the hottest owner.
WORKTAB – Columbine Stable’s O.K.’s Thunder, winner of the Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland prior to a ninth place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his most recent start, worked four furlongs in :50.40 over a sloppy track on Sunday morning at Churchill Downs for trainer Al Stall Jr. “We’re slowly getting him back, but he’s still a month or two away from making a start,” Stall said.
Robert Baker and William Mack’s Dublin, winner of the Grade I Hopeful who scratched out of the Kelly’s Landing stakes on Friday night, worked five furlongs in 1:02 Sunday morning for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Chasing Dreams Racing 2008 LLC’s Noble’s Promise, winner of the Grade III Aristides at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 for trainer Ken McPeek.
WEATHER – Sunday: cloudy with a 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 82. Monday: partly sunny with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 90. Tuesday: partly sunny with a 40% chance of thunderstorms, 89. Wednesday: mostly sunny, 87. Thursday: mostly sunny, 90. Friday: sunny and hot, 93. Saturday: mostly sunny, 93.