With jockey Robby Albarado aboard, West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again completed his major preparations for next Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) by working five furlongs in 1:02.20 over a fast track Friday morning after the renovation break.
"It was a good maintenance work for him," said Albarado, who guided Macho Again to victory in the Stephen Foster last year. "He finished up very well."
It was Macho Again's fourth work since finishing seventh in the Alysheba (GIII) on April 30 in his 2010 debut. Macho Again had finished sixth in the Alysheba last year prior to winning the Stephen Foster.
"He is beginning to peak like he did last year at this time," Albarado said. "He really hit his peak last year against Rachel Alexandra (in the Woodward)."
Trained by Dallas Stewart, Macho Again will attempt to become the third repeat winner of the Stephen Foster joining Vodika Collins (1982-83) and Recoup The Cash (1994-95).
Albarado will be attempting to become the first jockey in Churchill Downs history to win the same Grade I race four consecutive years. Albarado won the Stephen Foster in 2007 with Flashy Bull and in 2008 with Horse of the Year Curlin.
Only Pat Day has won the same stake at Churchill Downs more than three years in a row, a feat that has been accomplished by several riders. Day won the first five runnings of the Humana Distaff (1987-91), but that was before the race was a Grade I. The race was a Grade III in 1990-91.
THERIOT EAGER FOR BELMONT RIDE ON STAY PUT - Jockey Jamie Theriot is ready for his shot at the Big Apple when he leaves tonight to ride in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
Theriot will be riding Stay Put for trainer Steve Margolis. Theriot has been aboard Stay Put in six of his seven starts with three victories, including a score on Derby Day.
Stay Put is Theriot's only mount Saturday at Belmont Park, a track that Theriot never has ridden.
Not to worry, the rider said. "I know my poles," Theriot said. "I had a few other chances to ride there, but the horses got hurt or something happened."
Stay Put will break from post position 10 in the 12-horse field of the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes.
"He is going to be coming from off the pace, so the post is not that big of an issue," Theriot said. "Plus, I think I have the speed right outside of me (First Dude in the 11 hole)."
In addition to Theriot, Churchill Downs' current leading rider, Calvin Borel, will be in the Belmont. Borel rides Dave in Dixie for trainer John Sadler.
First Dude is trained by Churchill Downs-based Dale Romans and is one of three locally based runners in the Belmont field. The other, in addition to Stay Put, is Stately Victor, the Mike Maker trainee who is based at the Trackside Training Center.
Other local riders competing at Belmont Park on Saturday will be Robby Albarado and Alex Solis.
MENA HITS CHURCHILL DOWNS MILESTONE IN STYLE - On Monday, Miguel Mena became the 33rd rider to achieve 200 victories at Churchill Downs for the period beginning in 1976.
"I didn't realize I was that close," said Mena, who began riding here in the 2006 Spring Meet.
The milestone victory came on Dubai Majesty in the Winning Colors (GIII) and gave Mena his third win of the afternoon and vaulted him into a tie for second in the rider standings with Shaun Bridgmohan with 20, five fewer than Calvin Borel.
"It was the first time I had ridden her in a race although I had worked her a long time ago," Mena said of the 4 ½-length victory that was never in doubt. "It felt good (to win like that). She ran real hard."
Mena's solid meet marks a resurgence of sorts from last year when he had only seven winners in the fall and a Spring Meet when his victory total dropped to 44 from 65 in the spring of 2008 that included a five-win day on May 8.
"I am working hard," said Mena, who will turn 24 on Breeders' Cup Day, Nov. 6 here this year. "People are giving me opportunities again."
The next opportunity for Dubai Majesty has not been determined, according to Dennis "Peaches" Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun.
"I know they (owners Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan) want to run her in the Turf Amazon again, but that is not until September," Geier said of the race at Philadelphia Park in which Dubai Majesty ran third last year. "I am not sure what would be next."
After taking the Winning Colors last year, Dubai Majesty traveled to Calder and ran in the Grade I Princess Rooney in mid July.
The Winning Colors triumph served as redemption for a last-place showing in the Humana Distaff on May 1 on a sealed, sloppy track.
"We have no idea what happened in the Humana," Geier said. "It was not the slop; she likes the slop."
BARN TALK - Meet leading rider Calvin Borel, who has 998 career victories at Churchill Downs, is named on three mounts Friday. Trainer Dale Romans, with 499 career victories at Churchill Downs, has three runners entered Friday and one Saturday. ...
Noble's Promise, fifth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), left Thursday for England and a start in the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Trainer Ken McPeek also had two 2-year-olds accompany Noble's Promise to the Royal Ascot meet that runs from June 15-19. "He is taking the filly Tiz My Time who was moved up to second on disqualification last Friday," said Philip Bauer, McPeek's Churchill Downs assistant. "He is also taking Casper's Touch, who ran fourth at Keeneland (on April 22)." McPeek also left Thursday and is scheduled to return to Kentucky on June 20. ...
Trainer Clark Hanna capped off a big week on Monday when Wise River won the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap at Lone Star Park. Hanna, who also was two-for-two last week in starters at Churchill Downs, said that Wise River would start next in the $175,000 Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on closing day, July 4. Wise River owns the Matt Winn Turf Course record for 1 1/16 miles of 1:39.83 set on April 26, 2009. ...
WORK TAB - Inside Information (GII) winner Warbling worked a half-mile in :50.40, the 28th fastest of 40 at the distance