- DENIS OF CORK SET FOR MEMORIAL DAY WORK FOR BELMONT
- EINSTEIN SOLID IN SUNDAY BREEZE, MANHATTAN BID LIKELY
- TOMLINSON BEAMS OVER FIRST WINNER FOR SIR CHEROKEE
BELMONT CONTENDER DENIS OF CORK SET FOR MEMORIAL DAY WORK – Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, third to unbeaten Triple Crown contender Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), is set to continue his preparation for a rematch with the Derby winner in the June 7 Belmont Stakes with a workout on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Trainer David Carroll said the 3-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday was scheduled to breeze after the mid-session break for track maintenance, which would put Denis of Cork on the track at around 8:20 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
Jockey Robby Albarado will be in the saddle for the work. Albarado will have the mount on the winner of Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes (GIII) in the Belmont Stakes after Calvin Borel was aboard Denis of Cork in the Kentucky Derby.
Denis of Cork won the first three races of his career before he suffered his first setback in a fifth-place finish in the Illinois Derby (GII) at Hawthorne. He rebounded from that disappointment with his strong run in the Kentucky Derby.
The Memorial Day move will be the second work for Denis of Cork at Churchill Downs since the Kentucky Derby. He breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on May 19 with jockey James Lopez in the irons.
WOODFORD RESERVE WINNER EINSTEIN SHARP IN WORK, LIKELY FOR MANHATTAN – Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, winner of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day, turned in a solid five-furlong breeze on Sunday in preparation for a possible trip to Belmont Park to run in the $400,000-added Manhattan Handicap (GI) on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.
The Brazilian-bred son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck breezed five furlongs over a “fast” surface in 1:01.40 on Sunday for trainer Helen Pitts. The move ranked as the 11th fastest of 32 at the distance.
The victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic was the second Grade I win of the year for Einstein, who also took the Gulfstream Park Turf (GI) and just missed a solid effort behind reigning NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner Kip Deville in the Maker’s Mark Mile (GI) at Keeneland.
His victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic has Pitts entertaining the notion of a championship campaign for Einstein. But that’s not the only reason that his Derby Day victory in the Woodford Reserve, which came in Einstein’s third attempt to win that race, was special.
“It was awesome,” said Pitts. “He had run twice in it already and had run hard, but he’s a different horse this year. He sits close to the pace and puts himself into the race a little bit and makes his job easier. He’s run hard races (in the Woodford Reserve) and just hasn’t had the best of luck. I won a little Grade III on Kentucky Derby Day last year, but to win a Grade I on Derby Day means the world to me. If you can’t be in the Derby, to win a Grade I on the day is pretty special, I think.”
Pitts said the Arlington Million (GI) on Aug. 9 at Arlington Park remains the major goal on the year for Einstein.
The victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic allowed Einstein to become a millionaire. It was his third win in five races this year and he improved his career earnings to $1,107,931. His career record now stands at 8-1-1 in 18 races.
WEIGHTS ANNOUNCED FOR OPENING VERSE HANDICAP, STRONG FIELD TAKING SHAPE – S J Stables LLC’s Cloudy’s Knight has been assigned high weight of 123 pounds for Saturday’s fifth running of the $100,000-added Opening Verse Handicap on the Churchill Downs Turf, and Chicago-based trainer Frank Kirby, Jr. is considering a bid for the 1 1/16-mile race.
Kirby has told Churchill Downs racing officials that 8-year-old Lord Avie gelding is “possible” for the race, which would be his first outing of 2008. He completed a successful 2007 campaign with an upset win in the Canadian International (GI) at Woodbine. He also won the Sky Classic (GI) at the Toronto track and the Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup (GIII) during last year’s campaign.
Also listed as possible for the Opening Verse are Andrew Farm, Connie Scanlon and James Buckley’s Duveen, fifth to Einstein for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and a pair of veterans trained by Dale Romans: Zayat Stable’s Thorn Song and Jerry Crawford Adam Wachtel, Nils Brous and David Robinette’s Yate’s Black Cat. All three of those nominees were assigned 118 pounds.
Horses considered “likely” for the race (with assigned weights) include Crested (117), Seaside Retreat (117), Corrupt (116), Inca King (116), Embossed (115), Therecomesatiger (115), Rosberg (114), Bold Start (113) and Prom Shoes (113).
Rosberg was made a supplemental nominee to the Opening Verse with a payment of $5,000. The 7-year-old son of A.P. Indy, who is trained by Eoin Harty, finished fifth to Diamond Stripes in his most recent start in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (GII) on the dirt at Nad Al Sheba. The Opening Verse will mark the turf debut for Rosberg, who is out of One Thousand Guineas and multiple Group I winner Bosra Sham.
He has won four of 12 races in a career that was launched with a pair of outings in Southern California in 2003 that included a victory at Santa Anita.
The other stakes races on Saturday’s schedule at Churchill Downs include the $125,000 Aristides Stakes (GIII) and the $100,000 Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies.
TOMLINSON BEAMS OVER FIRST WINNER FOR FRESHMAN SIRE SIR CHEROKEE – Mike Tomlinson did not have a horse entered during Saturday’s 11-race card at Churchill Downs, but he felt like a winner after he watched first-time starter Need a Name in his career debut in the sixth race.
Need a Name, who is co-owned by Gus Goldsmith and trainer Merrill Scherer, is the first winner for freshman sire Sir Cherokee, the best horse that Tomlinson has trained. Sir Cherokee won the Arkansas Derby (GII) for Tomlinson in 2003 and was entered in that year’s Kentucky Derby, but came up with an injury that required him to be scratched from the “Run for the Roses.”
“I was at home watching it on HRTV and was tickled to death to see his first starter win at first asking,” said Tomlinson. “You can’t start any better than that.”
Sir Cherokee returned from the injury that knocked him out of the Kentucky Derby to win the Ack Ack (GIII) at Churchill Downs and the MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Park. Owned and bred by Domino Stud, Sir Cherokee ended his career with six wins in 19 races and total earnings of $528,296.
“He did a lot of good things for me,” recalled Tomlinson. “He was my first nice horse and got me my first ink as a trainer. Those kinds of things are immeasurable. When you finally get a horse that puts you in front of the public, it’s special. You can win all of the claiming races you want and it won’t do for you what a good horse can do.”
And, of course, Sir Cherokee almost put Tomlinson in the Kentucky Derby. He came up with hairline fracture in his left rear leg that apparently occurred during a five-furlong workout on Tuesday of Kentucky Derby Week. Sir Cherokee walked perfectly on the morning after the work and was entered in the Kentucky Derby on Wednesday, but the injury became apparent the following morning when Tomlinson’s colt returned to the track for a jog.
“We had our foot in the door, but the other one was on a banana peel,” Tomlinson recalled. “It’s just like I said when we found the injury, if you’re not ready for the downside as well as the upside, you’re in the wrong business.”
Tomlinson has some 2-year-olds by Sir Cherokee in his care and he’s hoping to continue the momentum created for the freshman sire by the win by Need a Name.
“I’ve got a couple of his babies and one filly that is showing talent,” he said. “Hopefully she’ll run by the end of the meet, and we’ll see if she’s that good to win at first asking. I hope she is.”
BARN TALK – Reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin is schedule to work on Monday at Churchill Downs. The breeze by the Steve Asmussen-trained champion will be his fourth at Churchill Downs since the 4-year-old son of Smart Strike returned to the United States after his victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) at Nad Al Sheba in late March. Curlin, who is prepping for an expected start in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on June 14, is expected to work in Asmussen’s second set of horse at around 6:15 a.m. … Big days for trainer Ken McPeek and jockey Robby Albarado on Saturday resulted in changes in the standings for the races for the leading owner and jockey of the Spring Meet. McPeek won three races – with Albarado on all of those winners – to extend his lead in the battle for leading trainer to 16-12 over Steve Asmussen. Tom Amoss also won a race on the day and his total of 10 victories is good for third in that race. Albarado’s fourth win aboard Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Lattice in the $150,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) was his fourth of the day and he ended Saturday’s program with 26-25 edge in the battle for “leading jockey” over Julien Leparoux. Albarado had started the day in a 22-22 tie with Leparoux, who added three wins on the day. … Saturday’s victory in the ninth race by Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli’s Sam P. ended a string of frustration for the 4-year-old son of Cat Thief, who had finished ninth behind Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The Todd Pletcher trainee led throughout under Leparoux to win the 1 1/16-mile allowance race by a head for his first victory since Nov. 25, 2006. That earlier victory had been a 2 ¼-length win over future stakes winner Chelokee at Churchill Downs in a one-mile allowance race, but he had failed to win in eight consecutive starts – all in Grade I, Grade II or Grade III competition. … Pimlico Special (GI) winner Student Council breezed four furlong in :52.60 on Sunday at Churchill Downs. It was the first work for the Steve Asmussen trainee since his May 16 upset win over a “sloppy” track at Pimlico.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – La Troienne (GI) winner Game Face breezed four furlongs in :49 for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is considering a run in either the Dogwood or Belmont Park’s Acorn (GI) for the 3-year-old daughter of Menifee … Turfway Breeders’ Cup (GII) winner Danzon breezed four furlongs in :48 … Phoenix Stakes (GIII) winner Off Duty breezed four furlongs in :48.80. …Dogwood candidate Honest Pursuit, a recent allowance winner for trainer Dallas Stewart, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60. … Fairbanks breezed a half-mile in :49 for Pletcher.
Through Friday, May 23
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 99 26-11-11
Julien Leparoux 143 25-26-26
Calvin Borel 160 21-19-24
Miguel Mena 138 21-19-20
Shaun Bridgmohan 95 21-17-12
Jesus Castanon 109 14-11-10
Jamie Theriot 90 9-10-9
Brian Hernandez, Jr. 70 7-12-8
Larry Sterling, Jr. 40 6-5-6
Elvis Trujillo 23 6-3-4
Corey Lanerie 83 5-15-7
John McKee 62 5-10-10
Kent Desormeaux 31 5-8-6
Tracy Hebert 53 5-3-5
Ken McPeek 36 16-5-4
Steve Asmussen 52 12-8-10
Tom Amoss 34 10-6-5
Mike Maker 25 8-4-2
Ian Wilkes 20 7-5-3
Dale Romans 55 6-12-7
Greg Foley 35 6-7-3
Four (4) trainers tied with five (5) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 25 8-3-4
Zayat Stables, LLC 24 5-5-3
Maggi Moss 14 5-2-3
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 17 4-3-1
Padua Stables 6 4-1-0
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 7 4-0-0
Four (4) owners tied with three (3) wins