KUNTZWEILER REVELS IN RETURN TO RACES – It was a walk she had not made in more than 4 ½ years … heading into the paddock to ride at Churchill Downs.
"I was nervous. It felt like the first time,” Greta Kuntzweiler said of her emotions before climbing aboard 70-1 shot Clear Conscience in Thursday’s fifth race.
Then came the post parade beneath the Twin Spires.
“It was just awesome. I forgot how much fun it was,” said Kuntzweiler, whose riding career was put on hold because of legal issues. “I saw a lot of familiar faces and there were people calling my name. It was great.”
Clear Conscience finished last, but Kuntzweiler came back in the next race to ride 54-1 shot Foxy Valley Girl to a fourth-place finish and then just missing in the day’s feature race on Broken Dreams for trainer Tom Proctor.
“I really wish I could have won that one,” Kuntzweiler, 34, said. “It was great that he (Proctor) would put me on a horse like that. Everyone has been very supportive.”
Kuntzweiler is named on one mount Friday and one Saturday. She will ride the remainder of the meet that ends July 4 and then ride at Ellis Park this summer.
FINAL WEEKEND STAKES FIELDS TAKING SHAPE – Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) winner Lou Brissie, owned by Dogwood Stable, is expected to be the headliner next Saturday for the 109th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track.
Other colts considered as probable for the race by Churchill Downs officials are Stonestreet Stables’ Kantharos, an 11 3/4-length debut winner on May 13 in the slop, Let’s Go Stable’s Razmataz, a winner here on June 11 in his second start, Carl Moore Management’s Speed Demon, a maiden winner here April 28, Butterfly Stable’s Gold for Cash, a maiden winner here on June 11 in his third start, and Thewayitusedtobe, winner of an Illinois-bred maiden race at Arlington Park on June 4 owned by Jose Gonzalez.
Possible for the race is Dale Wessels’ Vouch for Victory, a first-out maiden winner at Arlington Park on May 20. Entries for the Bashford Manor, won last year by Backtalk, will be taken Wednesday.
ng top billing on July 3 with the Bashford Manor will be the 29th running of the $100,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares three-years-old and up going a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Heading the list of probables are the 2-3 finishers from the June 5 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII): Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma and Barbara Hunter’s Keertana. Other probables include Magdalena Racing’s My Baby Baby, Vegso Racing Stables’ Happiness Is and Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Danzon.
Weights for the Locust Grove will be announced Saturday and entries taken Wednesday.
Nine horses are considered as probable for the 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course on July 4, the closing day of the 42-day Spring Meet.
Topping the probables is Don Benge’s Wise River, winner of the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap in his most recent start on May 31. Trained by Clark Hanna, Wise River ran sixth in last year’s Firecracker behind Mr. Sidney in a race contested on yielding turf.
Other probables for the Firecracker include Silverton Hill’s Driving Snow (GB), Marilyn and Jim Helzer’s Euroears, Farnsworth Stables’ Jet Propulsion, Jessica Coudelaria’s Negro Da Gaita (BRZ), Peter Karahalios’ Public Speaker, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Skipadate, Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu and Mike McCarty’s Unbridle’s Dream.
Possible for the Firecracker is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Inca King, a six-time winner on the Matt Winn Turf Course and runner-up in last year’s Firecracker.
Weights for the Firecracker are set for Sunday release and entries will be taken Thursday.
BARN TALK – With seven racing days left in the 42-day Sprint Meet, one track record has been established. That was courtesy of Silver Timber in winning the five-furlong Churchill Downs Turf Sprint (GIII) on April 30. Silver Timber was timed in :55.45, erasing the course mark of :55.54 established by Unbridled Sidney in 2005. …
One of the more intriguing notes of the meet, the highest Pick 6 payoff occurred on Stephen Foster Handicap Day, June 12. The payoff was $209,853.60 and the first leg of the sequence included a virtual free square: Rachel Alexandra at 1-10 in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII).
Calvin Borel, in quest of his first Spring Meet riding title at Churchill Downs, has had the best single day performance of the meet with five victories on April 24. Borel also had a four-win day on June 12 as did Corey Lanerie on May 15.
WORK TAB – Winning Colors (GIII) winner Dubai Majesty worked a half-mile on a fast track in :49. … Firecracker Handicap (GII) probable Euroears worked a half-mile in :51.60. … Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) probable Danzon worked five furlongs in 1:02. … At the Trackside Training Center, Firecracker possible starter Inca King worked five furlongs in 1:02.