THE “DUKE” HOPES TO FOLLOW IN BIG DRAMA’S FOOTSTEPS – After Duke of Mischief finished second in the Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap at Calder on Nov. 13, trainer David Fawkes did not really expect to be on the road any time soon with the 4-year-old colt.
“He didn’t do much running that day,” Fawkes said Tuesday morning after getting Duke of Mischief settled in Barn 45 for a run in Friday’s $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). “The other horse (Birdrun) got away from him and (jockey Eibar) Coa wrapped up on him. He was going to go on the shelf for a while, but I thought he had one more in him so we’ll give it a shot.”
The trip to Louisville was the second of the month for Fawkes, who brought Harold L. Queen’s Big Drama here to capture the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) on Nov. 6.
“I hauled him back myself and it sure made the drive a lot easier,” Fawkes said of his first Breeders’ Cup victory. “When we got back, they had a big sign for him at the barn.”
This is Duke of Mischief’s second trip to Churchill Downs this year, having made a June trip in which he finished eighth behind Blame in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
“He was trapped inside the whole race and he doesn’t like to be down inside like that,” Fawkes said. “You look at his races and the best ones are when he can loop around four- or five-wide. We are hoping for a better trip this time.”
Duke of Mischief, who is owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, breeder Marilyn McMaster and Fawkes Racing Inc., will be ridden by Coa on Friday and carry 116 pounds. Duke of Mischief will break from post position 11.
As for Big Drama, Fawkes said the 4-year-old colt owned by Harold Queen is “doing really good. We are pointing for the (Jan. 29) Sunshine Millions and then hopefully the Golden Shaheen (March 26 in Dubai).”
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR DOLLASES WITH DISTINCTIVE DIXIE – It took Distinctive Dixie seven tries to break her maiden and it took eight attempts in stakes company to enjoy her initial success at that level of competition, but it appears now that the 5-year-old daughter of 2000 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Fusaichi Pegasus is hitting her best stride.
She is getting better with age,” said Cincy Dollase, wife of trainer Wally Dollase. “We knew that going in. The Fusaichi Pegasuses get better as they get older and with them it is mostly mental.”
Distinctive Dixie, who will carry high weight of 120 pounds in Thursday afternoon’s Falls City Handicap (GII), is coming off a 1 ½-length score in the Chilukki (GII) in her most recent start. Robby Albarado, who was aboard for the Chilukki victory, will be aboard again Thursday.
Even though she is a 5-year-old, the plan is to race a full season in 2011 with Distinctive Dixie, who is owned by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust.
“Plan A is to race next year,” Dollase said. “The horses come first with the Lewises and they like to see their horses perform.”
Beverly Lewis will be watching from California on Thursday with a family gathering planned at Newport Beach. What she may see if an off track for her mare, who has compiled a record of 5-6-3 in 18 races with earnings of $383,154.
“She has trained well on the mud,” Dollase said of Distinctive Dixie, who shows a runner-up finish on a track labeled as “wet-fast” in the Bayakoa this spring at Oaklawn Park. “But everybody has to run on the same track. I just hope it dries out and it is a nice day.”
CASH REFUND TO MAKE TURF DEBUT THURSDAY, WEATHER PERMITTING – It has been nearly three weeks since the Breeders’ Cup World Championships were run here and horses that ran in that memorable two-day event are beginning to make their initial starts back.
One of those is Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, who finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Cash Refund is entered in Thursday’s fifth race, a five-furlong allowance sprint on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“It looks like he might have to run in the mud,” trainer Steve Margolis said with a nod toward a forecast that indicated rain in the Louisville area through Thursday night.
Cash Refund would be taking his grass debut if the race stays on the turf.
“We worked him on it over at Keeneland before the Breeders’ Cup and he worked well,” Margolis said. “He came out of the Breeders’ Cup fine and he is doing well. I talked it over with Richard and he said as long as he is doing well to take a shot.”
BARN TALK – With five racing days left in the 21-day Fall Meet, two of the three human races appear to be safely locked up. Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey have had six winners, four more than a host of other owners. The Ramseys own a record 16 leading owner titles. Steve Asmussen has saddled 12 winners this meet, five more than his closest pursuer, Todd Pletcher. Asmussen is seeking his fourth consecutive leading trainer title, fifth Fall Meet title and ninth title overall.
That leaves the chase for leading rider that has come down to a two-man battle between Julien Leparoux and Robby Albarado. Leparoux holds a 22-18 advantage and is named on 29 mounts the next three days while Albarado is named on 27. Leparoux, who won leading Fall Meet riding titles outright in 2007 and 2008 and shared the title last fall with Calvin Borel, also has three spring titles on his resume. Albarado, who was leading rider during the 2008 Spring Meet, never has won a fall riding title. …
Leparoux continues his march up the all-time win list at Churchill Downs. His 22 victories at the current meet have elevated his total to 444, which is 12th all time. In his immediate sights at No. 11 is Mike McDowell (452). No. 10 on the all-time list is Patrick Johnson (465). Kent Desormeaux, whose 10 victories are good for a tie for fourth in the rider standings, has 99 career wins at Churchill Downs. …
Asmussen’s 12 victories put him at 390 all time at Churchill Downs, fifth best. The only trainers ahead of Asmussen are Bill Mott (639), Dale Romans (511), D. Wayne Lukas (477) and Bernie Flint (425). Tom Amoss, who is seventh all time here with 332 victories, has a chance to catch Jack Van Berg (335) for the sixth spot before the meet closes Sunday. …
There has not been a two-time winner this meet, which enters its 17th day today. Nine previous winners have tried for the second victory, but none has succeeded with three runner-ups and four third-place finishers. On today’s card, Strong Clue in the second and Party Lang in the fourth will bid for their second victory of the month beneath the Twin Spires. …
Because of the early 11:30 a.m. post time on Thanksgiving, training will be conducted from 6-8 a.m. on Thursday. …
Retiring Churchill Downs stall superintendent Mike Hargrave recorded his first hole-in-one on Monday at Seneca Golf Course. Hargrave aced the 183-yard 13th using a 7-wood.