Three-time Grade I turf winner Einstein will be asked to concede between 6-10 pounds to as many as eight rivals in Friday’s 19th running of the $200,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Einstein, owned by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green, Lessee, has scored Grade I victories this year in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3 and the Feb. 23 Gulfstream Park Turf, was assigned 124 pounds for the Firecracker by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.
In Einstein’s most recent start at the Firecracker distance, he ran second to NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner Kip Deville in the Makers Mark Mile (GI) on April 11 at Keeneland.
Five horses are labeled as probable to challenge Einstein, according to Churchill Downs racing officials.
At 118 pounds are Churchill Downs turf stakes winners Inca King, owned by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, and Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song. Other probables are Terry Raymond, Jana Wagner and Gus Goldsmith’s Faith’s Magic (116), D. Richard Masson’s Karelian (115) and Oxbow Racing’s Steve’s Double (115).
Three horses are considered as possible for the Fourth of July headliner: James Tafel’s Coragil Cat (117), Mrs. S.K. Johnston Jr., Marco Bommarito and the Molly Malone Racing Club’s A.P. Xcellent (116) and Snookum Farms’ Baron Von Tap (114).
LOCUST GROVE FIELD TAKING SHAPE, BAYOU’S LASSIE LIKELY – Seven horses are considered as probable by the Churchill Downs racing office for the closing day Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) to be run at a mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Weights for the race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up will be released Sunday, June 29.
Headlining the list of probables is Jacks or Better Farm’s Bayou’s Lassie, winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GIII) on May 3. Trained by Dale Romans, Bayou’s Lassie finished fourth in the Grade I Just a Game Handicap on June 7 in her most recent start.
Expected to come from Texas for the Locust Grove is Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points, who won the Ouija Board Handicap (GIII) at Lone Star Park in her most recent start on May 26. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Brownie Points ran fifth in the 2006 Mrs. Revere (GII) in her lone appearance at Churchill Downs.
Peter Bradley III’s Tears I Cry, runner-up to Brownie Points in the Ouija Board, also is considered a probable for trainer Cody Autrey.
Others probables include Pegasus Horses’ Ballymore Lady, second in the June 14 Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) at Churchill Downs; James Barry’s Genuine Devotion; Briland Farm’s Grace Happens; and, Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl, runner-up in the 2007 Regret (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
ROMERO’S EXERCISE PROGRAM PAYING OFF FOR STEWART, TOO – Four weeks into his summer exercise program, 50-year-old Randy Romero could not be happier.
Romero, who rode 4,285 winners in a 25-year career, has been galloping horses trainer Dallas Stewart the past four weeks.
“I have been getting on seven horses a day,” said Romero, who rode three Breeders’ Cup winners highlighted by Personal Ensign’s victory over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the 1988 Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs. “I am not getting paid for it. I am just doing for exercise and it is good for my health.”
Romero has battled health issues since being diagnosed with hepatitis in 2002. This February, he lost a kidney.
“My kidney had burst and I was bleeding inside for two weeks,” Romero said.
He attended the Kentucky Derby and a month later he returned to Louisville from New Orleans to begin getting on horses for Stewart, something he had done in the past.
“I started swimming in New Orleans to get myself in shape and lose some weight and I am still swimming every day,” said Romero, who weighs 130 pounds. “I still have dialysis three times a week from 4 to 8 p.m.”
When the Spring Meet ends on July 6, Romero will follow Stewart to Saratoga.
“Dallas has a lot of good 2-year-olds and I think he is going to have an exceptional meet up there,” Romero said. “Horses like that make it easy to get up in the morning.”
BARN TALK – Happy 69th birthday wishes to trainer Lynn Whiting, conditioner of 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee. A native of Great Falls, Mont., Whiting has saddled 278 winners at Churchill Downs, good for 12th all time under the Twin Spires. Whiting saddled two other Kentucky Derby starters in addition to Lil E. Tee: At The Threshold who ran third in 1984 and Phantom on Tour, who ran sixth in 1997. … The smile still had not left jockey Jordan Springer’s face the morning after she won with second mount after coming back from a serious injury last November. “We did a little celebrating last night,” said Springer, who guided Geri’s Kid to a front-running 5 ¼-length score in Friday’s eighth race. “There was no speed in the race, so I just went on with it.” Springer will head to California when the current meet ends next Sunday. “I’m going to Del Mar and gallop horses for Bob Hess, Bobby Frankel, Eoin Harty and John Glenney,” Springer said. “I was out there last summer on vacation and I didn’t want to leave. During the winter when I was sitting at home in New York, I decided I would go back out there.” … Veteran Churchill Downs conditioner Angel Montano picked up his second win in two days when Dominic’s Desire won Friday’s seventh race. A native of Mexico City, Montano saddled his first winner at Miles Park in 1968 and has posted 314 winners all time at Churchill Downs, good for sixth best on the career charts. Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg ranks fifth with 335 winners. Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start ran the fastest 6 ½ furlongs of the meet in 1:14.91 when he won Friday’s third race by 5 ½ lengths. The time in the 30th race at the distance this spring, was .57 of a second off the seven-year-old track record set by Love At Noon. The Ken McPeek-trained runner has a record of 7-2-2-2 on the main track at Churchill Downs that included a third-place finish in the 2007 Derby Trial. … Trainer Tom Amoss recorded his eighth two-win day of the meet on Friday and boosted his lead in the race for leading trainer to two over Steve Asmussen and McPeek (28-26).
WORK TAB – West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again, in his first work since finishing fifth in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (GI), worked a half-mile over a “good” track after the renovation break in :51 with Kenny Bourque up for trainer Dallas Stewart. … Tom Walters’ Elite Squadron, prepping for next Saturday’s Triple Bend Invitational (GI) at Hollywood Park, worked a half-mile in “good” going in :48.60 with Mick Jenner up. “I got him in 48 flat. It was perfect,” trainer Jim Baker said. “He leaves Monday for California.” … Trainer Ken McPeek worked the bulk of the heavy hitters in his barn highlighted by a bullet move from Magdalena Racing’s My Baby Baby, who covered five furlongs early Saturday morning when the track was labeled “muddy” in :59. My Baby Baby is scheduled to leave Monday for Hollywood Park and next Saturday’s American Oaks Invitational (GI). Other McPeek workers were Koolmen Racing’s graded-stakes placed A to the Croft (:50.60 for a half over a “good” track), Lawrence Carroll’s stakes-winning Old Man Buck (five furlongs in 1:02.40 “good”), fourth-place Preakness finisher Racecar Rhapsody (1:02.40, “muddy), and Samotowka Stables and Magdalena Racing’s Theregoesjojo (1:01.20 “muddy” in a prep for next Saturday’s Bashford Manor).
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Friday, June 27
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 232 61-30-22
Miguel Mena 303 53-47-43
Julien Leparoux 271 46-53-46
Jamie Theriot 241 44-34-33
Calvin Borel 258 41-38-38
Shaun Bridgmohan 192 39-34-25
Jesus Castanon 226 26-22-27
Corey Lanerie 194 17-26-23
Brian Hernandez Jr. 172 15-26-17
John McKee 136 12-21-20
Tracy Hebert 121 11-7-8
Tom Amoss 70 28-12-12
Steve Asmussen 119 26-20-17
Ken McPeek 68 26-12-5
Mike Maker 56 15-13-8
Dale Romans 125 14-25-22
Ian Wilkes 46 13-11-7
Eddie Kenneally 60 12-10-10
Cody Autrey 53 9-9-11
Greg Foley 60 9-9-8
Bret Calhoun 23 9-2-4
Paul J. McGee 42 8-7-4
Nick Zito 20 8-5-1
D. Wayne Lukas 52 8-2-5
Robert O’Connor II 20 8-2-4
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 55 15-10-12
Maggi Moss 28 12-6-4
Zayat Stables, LLC 47 8-10-10
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 36 7-7-7
Heflin & Driver Racing 27 5-5-6
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 16 5-1-0
Seven (7) owners tied at four (4) wins