LEMON CHIFFON EYES GRADED GLORY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Trainer Sean McCarthy had a choice to make with Lemon Chiffon: Stay at home in California and run in the Grade I Matriarch on Nov. 28 at Hollywood Park, or ship east to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s Grade III Cardinal Handicap over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“I’d like to get her a graded stakes win and in the Matriarch she would have to face the Grade I and Grade II horses she has been fighting all summer and fall,” McCarthy said. “Not that this is going to be that much easier, because any time you put a grade in front of a race, you know it is going to be tough.”
For Lemon Chiffon, who arrived here Tuesday night, it will be her second start of 2009 at Churchill Downs.
“She ran well here in the spring,” McCarthy said of a third-place finish in the Distaff Turf Mile (GII). “Plus the distance (1 1/8 miles in the Cardinal) is good for her.”
Owned by Ron Beegle, Lemon Chiffon is a lightly raced 6-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid who did not make her racing debut until she was 4.
“I got her when she was 2 and we were getting ready to run her at the end of the year and she had a hairline fracture of her tibia,” McCarthy said. “She won the first time she ran and then the same thing happened to her other tibia after her first race.”
The second injury kept Lemon Chiffon away from the races for 15 months. Since returning in April 2008, Lemon Chiffon has compiled a record of 3-1-2 in 13 races and since running third in last fall’s Las Palmas Handicap (GII) has not been beaten by more than 2 ½ lengths in mainly graded-stakes company.
“She’s pretty honest and she’s just had some bad luck running with some good horses,” said McCarthy, who has 10 horses in his barn on the Southern California circuit.
Jon Court, who rode Lemon Chiffon in her debut win at Santa Anita in 2007, has the riding assignment on Saturday.
McCarthy also nominated Lemon Chiffon to the Falls City Handicap (GII) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
“She won on the dirt on the bullring at Fairplex,” McCarthy said. “I train her on the main track at home and I nominated her to both races in case it rains and the Cardinal comes off the grass. I would not be afraid to race on the dirt.”
GET STORMY PROVES HE CAN GO THE DISTANCE – Trainer Tom Bush was confident that Get Stormy could win going 1 1/16 miles. Turns out he was right … by a nose.
That’s the margin Get Stormy hung on by to win Sunday’s Commonwealth Turf (Grade III).
“I don’t know what it is, but he loses focus a little bit in the stretch,” Bush said. “But when that horse (Street Move) came at him, he saw him and dug in again and fought back and he galloped out strong, which leads me to believe there is more there.”
Sunday’s race was the final one for the year for Get Stormy, who left Churchill Downs to return to New York on Tuesday.
“He has been going all year,” said Bush, who keeps his stable in New York during the winter. “We haven’t firmed up plans yet whether to send him to Florida and give him a couple of months at the farm or to Camden (S.C.). But that was definitely it for the year. He won’t run in January or February.”
Sunday’s payday of $66,027 gave Get Stormy a two-race haul of $141,027 for his forays to Kentucky. Last month, he earned $75,000 for winning the Bryan Station (GIII) at Keeneland.
Bush is planning to come back to Churchill Downs in search of another big check.
“I’m sending Banrock down for the River City Handicap (GIII),” Bush said of the 6-year-old New York bred who is a four-time stakes winner in 2009. “He’ll get there Monday.”
Runner-up Street Move headed back to Florida on Monday along with stablemates Florentino (Jpn) who finished eighth and Bluegrass Princess, who had finished fifth on Saturday in the Mrs. Revere (GII).
“We got him earlier this year and Kiaran noticed he didn’t move as well on dirt,” said Neal McLaughlin, brother of and assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He was a little better on the turf and in his grass races he has really come along.
“But we’ve got to try the Poly with him. He never has been on Polytrack and he has that great closing kick that suits Polytrack. Plus, he’s a half-brother to Furthest Land who won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI), so we are looking forward to bringing him to Keeneland next spring.”
CINDY JONES GETS FIRST TRAINING WIN AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – No Such Word gave Cindy Jones her first training victory at Churchill Downs in the Friday nightcap. However, for the wife of recently retired trainer Larry Jones, it was not her first victory.
“The first year we were at Ellis Park in 1988, Larry did not get enough stalls and he put some horses in my name,” Cindy said. “My first winner was a little horse named Prizado. He was only 15 hands and he won his first race by eight lengths and then the 2-year-old stake there by 5 ½.”
No Such Word is a 2-year-old daughter of Canadian Frontier and owned by her breeder, former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones.
“Brereton called right after the race and he was so excited,” Cindy said of No Such Word, who was the last horse Larry galloped on final day as a trainer on Nov. 7.
Larry Jones continues to gallop horses for the barn with No Such Word as one of his morning regulars.
BARN TALK – Distinctive Dixie, one of two winners on the Sunday card for trainer Wally Dollase, is headed for a Dec. 19 stakes race at the Fair Grounds according to Aimee Dollase, assistant to her father. Owned by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust, Distinctive Dixie was coming off a five-month layoff into her victory over seven furlongs. …
With 10 racing days remaining in the Fall Meet, several Churchill Downs milestones are within reach for jockeys and trainers. Robby Albarado, who is tied for third in the rider standings with nine victories, has 848 wins all time beneath the Twin Spires. Julien Leparoux, second in the standings with 11 wins, needs 10 victories to become the 15th jockey with 400 Churchill Downs triumphs. Trainers Rusty Arnold (248) and Ken McPeek (247) are closing in on the 250-win plateau.
WORK TAB – Acoma, one of the likely favorites for Saturday’s Cardinal Handicap (GIII), worked a half-mile on Monday in :48.80 over a fast track for trainer David Carroll. Also working a half-mile for Carroll was Denis of Cork (:50.40), his second work since returning to the barn from injury. … On Tuesday, over a track labeled as “wet-fast” Iroquois (GIII) winner Thiskyhasnolimit worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 for trainer Steve Asmussen in preparation for the closing-day Kentucky Jockey Club (GII). Also working for the Kentucky Jockey Club was Gleam of Hope who covered five furlongs in 1:01.40 (wet-fast) for trainer Tony Reinstedler. Prepping for a possible start in the Thanksgiving Day Falls City Handicap (GII), Whirlie Bertie worked a bullet five-eighths in 1:00 (wet-fast) for trainer Steve Margolis. ... Decelerator, winner of the Debutante (GIII) here this summer and second in the Pocahontas (GIII) on Nov. 1, worked a half-mile in :53.60 over a “muddy” track Wednesday morning ahead of an expected start in the Grade II Golden Rod on Nov. 28.