DELIGHTFUL KISS RETURNS TO HIS OLD KENTUCKY HOME – A year ago, trainer Pete Anderson was hopeful of getting a matchup against Curlin on the main track at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby with Hobeau Farm’s Delightful Kiss.
Fast forward 58 weeks and Anderson finally could get his wish in the 27th running of the Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) on Saturday.
Delightful Kiss did not have enough graded stakes earnings to make the Derby 133 field in which Curlin ran third behind Street Sense. Instead, Anderson ran Delightful Kiss in the Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day in which the gray gelding finished ninth.
After that, Anderson kept the horse here, using Churchill Downs as his base to send Delightful Kiss to victories in the Ohio Derby (GII) and Iowa Derby.
“I was here so long, I thought they were going to adopt me,” Anderson said of the stablehands of trainer Tom Proctor in Barn 22. “We were here from mid-April until the end of June.”
Delightful Kiss arrived back at Barn 22 on Monday morning after a 17-hour van ride from Miami. The Stephen Foster will mark the second start of 2008 for Delightful Kiss.
“After the West Virginia Derby, I turned him out for 130 days,” Anderson said. “He was due for a rest.”
Delightful Kiss returned to the races with a runner-up finish in the Blazing Sword Stakes at Calder on May 24 and followed that up with a bullet half-mile work on June 4.
“The (Blazing Sword) was a 7 1/2 (furlong) on the turf, but they took the race off the grass while they were in the paddock and made it a mile,” Anderson said. “Calder is a tough track for a horse with his (late-running) style, and there was lone speed that day and there was nothing I could do about that.”
Delightful Kiss was assigned 114 pounds for the Foster, 14 fewer than reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin. Anderson knows it is a tough spot, but quickly adds, “the only chance to win it is if you are in it.”
Miguel Mena, currently second in the Spring Meet rider standings with 38 victories, will ride Delightful Kiss.
“I have never met him, but I have seen him ride and I like the way he rides,” Anderson said. “Plus, he can do 114 and I didn’t want to get somebody who would be three pounds over in a handicap race.”
In addition to Curlin, others expected to pass the entry box Wednesday for the Foster (with weight assignments) are Einstein (118), Grasshopper (117), Brass Hat (116), Barcola (113), High Blues (113) and Sam P. (113). Student Council (120), Jonesboro (114) and Red Rock Creek (113) are considered possibilities.
Grasshopper completed his work for the Foster by working a half-mile in :49 under Annie Finney over a fast track before the renovation break. Garrett Gomez has the mount in the Foster.
KATHLEENS REEL BRINGS SIBILLE BACK TO CHURCHILL DOWNS – As a rider in 1988, Ray Sibille earned a Breeders’ Cup mark that stands today: The only rider to win a Breeders’ Cup race with his only mount.
That came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs aboard Great Communicator for trainer Thad Ackel.
“I remember we were about eight hours late getting to Louisville and then Thad and I talked for four hours back at the hotel about everything that could possibly happen in the race,” Sibille said.
His upset victory with Great Communicator was only part of what turned out to be a great day for Sibille.
“I was in the jocks’ room watching the LSU-Alabama game, and LSU hadn’t beaten ’Bama in like 20 years,” Sibille said. “It was late in the game and we got the call for riders up. When I came back after the race, I got there in time to see David Browndyke kick the game-winning field goal for LSU. It made for a perfect day.”
Sibille will be in the role of upsetter again here Saturday when he saddles Eagle Valley Farm’s Kathleens Reel in the 34th running of the $300,000-adde Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.
“She is a well-bred filly and she is getting better all the time,” Sibille said. “She is a half-sister to Cool Coal Man (winner of this year’s Grade II Fountain of Youth), and her race in the Sixty Sails (GIII) at Hawthorne she got her best Beyer (95).”
A 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid, Kathleens Reel has posted a record of 5-3-3 in 17 races with earnings of $160,220. Her third-place finish in the Sixty Sails marked her graded stakes debut.
“I hope it turns out to be a match race,” Sibille said of the Fleur de Lis, which as of Tuesday morning had only two other confirmed starters in 2006 Humana Distaff (GI) winner and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) runner-up Hystericalady and Peach Flambe. Tough Tiz’s Sis is possible. “It’s a step up, but we are hoping to grab all we can here.”
Kathleens Reel arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday from Louisiana Downs. She will be ridden by Calvin Borel on Saturday and carry 114 pounds, seven fewer than the impost assigned to Hystericalady.
NO TURF WORK REQUIRED FOR GO WEST BERT – Trainer Steve Margolis’ game plan for Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein’s Go West Bert was to work the 3-year-old on the grass Tuesday morning and then decide on a possible start in Saturday’s 31st running of the $200,000-added Jefferson Cup (GII) for 3-year-olds on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
A sudden, early morning downpour at the start of training hours canceled all turf works, so Margolis worked Go West Bert a half-mile on the dirt.
“I had him going 49 and change from the three-eighths to the seven-eighths with Calvin (Borel) on him,” Margolis said. “(Owner) Mr. (Bert) Klein was here watching him and I thought he went great, so we are going to enter the Jefferson Cup.”
Clockers timed the move in :50.40, which was the 24th best of 36 at the distance.
“Since we gelded him and put him on the turf, he has been a different horse,” Margolis said. “He comes out of a key maiden $80,000 race at Gulfstream.
“My horse, Labor Union, won that day with Prime Realestate, a Wayne Catalano horse, beating Go West Bert for second. We gelded him after that race; he comes back and breaks his maiden and then he and Prime Realestate show up in the same allowance race at Keeneland and run 1-2. Prime Realestate then goes on to run second in a $150,000 stake (the Arlington Classic) in Chicago.”
Borel will have the mount Saturday on Go West Bert in the Jefferson Cup that as of Tuesday figured to draw a field of nine. Other probables included Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner Wicked Style, Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) winner Tizdejavu, Bobby Blue Eyes, Budge Man, Halo Najib, Hard Strike, Nistle’s Crunch, and Old Man Buck.
Margolis also worked Mama I’m Home in her final prep for the 32nd running of the
$150,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares 3 and up on the turf.
“I thought she worked great under Penny Gardiner,” Margolis said. “I got her in 48 and three from the three-eighths to the seven-eighths. I feel like she is going to run a big race.”
Mama I’m Home was assigned 115 pounds for the Early Times Mint Julep and will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. She would receive eight pounds from expected starting high weight Dreaming of Anna, a multiple stakes winner and the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006. Other Early Times Mint Julep probables (with weight assignments) are Ballymore Lady (114), Sprung (114) and Kiss With a Twist (113).
Two other graded stakes will complete the Stephen Foster Super Saturday lineup.
The seventh running of the $175,000-added Northern Dancer (GIII) is expected to draw three runners from this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) in Recapturetheglory (5th), Pyro (8th) and Visionaire (12th). Other likely contenders for the 1 1/16-mile race on the main track include Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up My Pal Charlie, Gotham (GIII) runner-up Texas Wildcatter, Tiz Now Tiz Then and Unbridled Vicar.
The 39th running of the $200,000-added Regret (GIII) is expected to be headlined by third-place Kentucky Oaks (GI) finisher Pure Clan, winner of Churchill Downs Golden Rod (GII) and Pocahontas (GIII), and Edgewood Stakes winner Zee Zee. Other Regret probables are John Battaglia Memorial winner Absolutely Cindy, Golden Rod runner-up C J’s Leelee, Clearly Foxy, Magical Theater and Miss Mafioso.
WORK TAB – Swale Stakes (GII) winner Eaton’s Gift worked a half-mile in :49.40 over a fast track for trainer Dale Romans. Also working for Romans was Jefferson Cup probable Halo Najib, who worked a half-mile in :50.80. … Jonesboro, under consideration for the Stephen Foster, worked a half-mile in :49 for trainer Randy Morse.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Sunday, June 8
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 156 41-19-22
Miguel Mena 211 38-27-27
Julien Leparoux 201 37-36-37
Calvin Borel 206 30-32-32
Shaun Bridgmohan 139 26-27-18
Brian Hernandez Jr. 111 10-19-13
Jamie Theriot 149 25-22-10
Jesus Castanon 169 21-14-18
Elvis Trujillo 61 10-9-17
Corey Lanerie 127 9-18-14
Larry Sterling Jr. 68 9-8-9
Ken McPeek 48 21-7-4
Tom Amoss 49 21-6-8
Steve Asmussen 76 16-14-12
Mike Maker 37 11-6-4
Dale Romans 87 10-18-16
Ian Wilkes 33 10-6-5
Eddie Kenneally 39 8-8-7
Cody Autrey 42 7-8-7
Steve Margolis 33 7-6-6
Wesley Ward 25 7-5-5
Nick Zito 19 7-5-1
Four (4) trainers tied with six (6) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 37 12-5-6
Maggi Moss 19 10-2-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 33 7-6-7
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 28 6-7-3
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 11 5-1-0
Padua Stables 7 4-1-0
Eliah and Lisa Kahn 4 4-0-0
Seven (7) owners tied with three (3) wins