DERBY 136 PLAYERS STATELY VICTOR, DEAN’S KITTEN WORK AT TRACKSIDE LOUISVILLE – With the experience of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) now two weeks in the rear-view mirror, the pair of “Run for the Roses” participants trained by Mike Maker – Thomas and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean’s Kitten – returned to serious training on Saturday at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Louisville training center.
Stately Victor, who finished eighth behind Super Saver on Derby Day, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 over the fast six-furlong oval under exercise rider Derrick Smith. Dean’s Kitten, who checked in 14th in the 20-horse Derby field, breezed five furlongs under Marvin Jiminez, worked a half-mile in :49.40.
“They both came out of the race well and they worked excellent this morning,” Maker said.
The Derby runners will be embarking on separate paths for the remainder of their 3-year-old campaigns. Stately Victor, the winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack course, would return to the Triple Crown trail with a run in the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 5. Maker said Dean’s Kitten, a homebred son of 2004 turf champion Kitten’s Joy and winner of the Lane’s End (GII) on Turfway Park’s Polytrack surface,, would focus on grass and synthetic courses through the summer. His near-term goal is the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (GI) on June 19at Virginia’s Colonial Downs.
Maker thought Stately Victor ran well in a ruggedly-run Derby and the son of Ghostzapper should be well-equipped to handle the Belmont’s 1 ½-mile distance.
"Stately Victor, I think, ran a decent race,” said Maker. “He had some trouble, along with a bunch of others and that was that.”
Also working for Maker on Saturday at Trackside Louisville was the Ramseys’ Furthest Land, upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Oak Tree at Santa Anita last fall. He has not raced since a last-place finish behind Gloria De Campeao in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (GI) at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse on March 27. Maker has no firm plans for a return to racing by Furthest Land, but is encouraged by his progress.
“It’s still up in the air,” said Maker. “I think he recovered from Dubai a lot better than we were expecting, but we’ll just wait ‘til he’s ready and see what’s out there.”
Another Maker worker was the Ramsey’s Accredit, winner of the Churchill Downs (GII) in 2009. The 5-year-old breezed a half-mile in :49.20.
VETERAN BRASS HAT PREPS FOR LOUISVILLE ‘CAP DEFENSE WITH CHURCHILL DOWNS WORK – With a bid for a repeat victory in the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) just a week away, Fred Bradley’s homebred veteran Brass Hat tuned-up for the 1 ½-mile turf test with a sharp five furlong work on the dirt on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
The 9-year-old gelded son of Prized zipped the five-eighths mile distance in 1:00.40 under veteran jockey Charles Woods Jr., as regular rider and workout partner Calvin Borel was in Baltimore to ride Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. The move was the third-fastest of 23 at the distance over a fast racing surface.
Trainer William “Buff” Bradley, the owner-breeder’s son, is thrilled with the spark displayed by his veteran star as Brass Hat approaches his third start of the year. He opened the season with an eighth-place run behind Bearpath in the Pan American (GIII) at Gulfstream Park and followed it with a strong runner-up finish to Musketeer in the $200,000 Elkhorn (GII) on the Keeneland turf.
That runner-up finish improved Brass Hat’s career recrd to 9-7-4 in 35 races and boosted his earnings to $2,087,110. Those numbers include a victory on dirt in the Donn Handicap (GI) and a runner-up finish (later vacated because of a medication infraction) in the $5 million Dubai World Cup in 2006 – highlights of a career that began with a runner-up finish in a race for $15,000 claiming horses in January 2004 at Turfway Park.
A few days after his Elkhorn run, Brass Hat traveled to Frankfort, Ky., where the farm of his owner, a former Kentucky state senator, is located. The international exploits of the veteran who was bred and raised on the elder Bradley’s farm have made him a folk hero to residents near that city and Brass Hat was honored in Kentucky’s capital city with a day named in his honor.
"It was so cool,” recalled Buff Bradley. “I took him off the trainer and put him in a portable stall – a 10’ x 20’ stall that was open all the way around – and he never turned a hair. He worked the crowd like a true politician. He ate peppermints out of all the kids’ hands, and Calvin came and spoke. We had two governors there – Brereton Jones and Julian Carroll – and (former Keeneland Association President) Ted Bassett came and spoke,”
The event that honored both Brass Hat and his owner-breeder was a fundraiser for a museum in Frankfort.
“It turned out to be a great day,” said Buff Bradley. “He got to go home for a few days and they had a little party for him and everything. But since then he’s come back to the track and done very well. We’re on target to run next weekend.”
The Louisville figures to offer an enticing match-up of what could be billed as the “Senior Tour” of Kentucky racing as Brass Hat’s rivals could include Chrysalis Stable’s Silverfoot, a three-time Louisville ‘Cap winner (2004-06) who is now 10 years old.
"I’ve been watching him train and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go in there,” Bradley said. “It looks like he’s doing very well, too.”
Whatever happens next Saturday and the rest of the year with Brass Hat is a bonus for Bradley and his father. Their star has suffered a pair of significant injuries during his racing career, but has come back in stakes-winning form from each setback.
"I thought he was done at five,” Bradley said. “So the last four years have been great. We truly didn’t expect it. It wasn’t going to break out hearts if he didn’t get to run after everything he had already done for us. He’s been something.”
STAKES STARS DOT SATURDAY CHURCHILL DOWNS WORK TAB – Several stakes winners were among horses that turned in serious workouts in perfect spring weather on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Multiple Grade I winner Court Vision, a narrow runner-up to General Quarters in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day, breezed four furlongs in :51 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Trainer Eddie Kenneally sent out Custom for Carlos, a candidate for Churchill Downs’ $100,000-added Aristides on June 29, out for a four-furlong move in :49.40. The move by Homewrecker Stable and Avalon Farm’s winner of this year’s Count Fleet (GIII) and Mr. Prospector (GIII), ranked 23rd out of 42 at the distance.
David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, a candidate for the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 12, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 for trainer Paul J. McGee. The 6-year-old E. Dubai gelding won the Ben Ali (GIII) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland last time out.
Silverbulletday (GIII) winner Jody Slew, 13th for trainer Bret Calhoun behind Blind Luck in the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI), breezed four furlongs in :49.80.
WEEKLY HANDICAPPING CONTEST WILL OFFER PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES – This spring’s “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest at Churchill Downs will offer $4,000 in prize money each week and five prize packages to compete in the Horseplayer World Series in Las Vegas.
First prize each week will be $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.
The popular handicapping contest will begin this Sunday and continue every Sunday through June 13.
The “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest is a game of skill that tests the player’s ability to handicap Thoroughbred racing. Each contestant will start the day with a $24 imaginary bankroll and may only wager exactly $2 to win and $2 to place on six designated races from Churchill Downs.
the contest costs $30 per entry ($25 for Twin Spires Club members) and is limited to 400 entries with a limit of three entries per person. Registration is scheduled in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse on Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
BARN TALK – Nominations close Saturday, May 15 for a pair of upcoming stakes races at Churchill Downs: the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds & up at six furlongs on Saturday, May 29, and the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up to be run on Memorial Day, May 31. Nominations can be made online at www.churchilldowns.com or by phone (502.636.4470) or fax (502.636.4598) before midnight (EDT) on Saturday.