MALIBU PRAYER HELPS SALVAGE THE DAY FOR EVANS – Saturday was not a total loss for Edward Evans, who saw his Quality Road scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) when he refused to load in the starting gate.
Nearly two hours earlier, his Malibu Prayer posted her first graded-stakes victory by taking the Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs by a length over Copper State.
“She is doing well this morning,” said Michael Dilger, the Churchill Downs assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “She had been training well at Belmont and we thought she would run well.”
Dilger was not sure if Malibu Prayer would come back in three weeks to run in the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) on Nov. 26.
“I don’t know if Todd would want to run her back that quick,” Dilger said. “We have Unbridled Belle pointed to the Falls City and that will be the last race for her.”
The Chilukki victory improved Malibu Prayer’s record to 9-4-3-2 with the three runner-up finishes coming in graded stakes.
“We had her at Delaware Park this summer and she only needed to improve a little bit to be a good filly,” Dilger said. “She has always been well thought of and she has progressed well through the year.”
One Caroline, the Chilukki favorite who finished third in her first start in more than six months, was headed back to her home base at Keeneland on Sunday.
"She ran hard yesterday,” said Jack Bohannan, assistant to trainer Rusty Arnold. “It is tough to sustain those fractions (:22.47 and :44.87) after being off so long. We were disappointed she didn’t win.”
A return in the Falls City is possible for One Caroline.
“If Rusty feels she is all right, I am sure he will entertain that thought,” Bohannan said. “Rusty and (owner) Mr. (G. Watts) Humphrey (Jr.) will talk it over.”
SHE’S OUR ANNIE COMES BACK STRONG IN DREAM SUPREME – Trainer Jinks Fires was all smiles Sunday morning after the performance of Destiny Oaks’ She’s Our Annie in Saturday’s $60,000 Dream Supreme overnight stakes.
Idle since being taken out of training in the spring, She’s Our Annie came off the 7 ½-month layoff by going wire-to-wire under Jon Court to win by 2 ½ lengths. The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro covered the six furlongs in 1:10.31.
“She had been training that way, so we thought she would run that way,” Fires said. “She’s doing well this morning. We are going to take it one step at a time and see what’s out there, but we are not going to push her.”
Now a winner of four of five starts, She’s Our Annie developed the start of a slab fracture this spring at Oaklawn Park and Fires gave her 90 days off before starting her back. Prior to the Dream Supreme, She’s Our Annie had recorded two bullet six-furlong works here.
WIGGINS’ HORSE OF THE YEAR VOTE … JUST SAY HE’S PARTIAL – “I bet I know what you are going to ask me,” trainer Hal Wiggins said with a big grin. “Who do I think should be Horse of the Year?”
Well, now that you mention it after Zenyatta’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), who should be Horse of the Year, Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra?
“I think it will be a photo finish,” Wiggins said. “You can’t gripe if it goes either way. But then, you know I may be a little prejudiced.”
Wiggins trained the 3-year-old Rachel Alexandra to the first four of her eight victories in a perfect 2009 campaign. Zenyatta finished a 5-for-5 year with the Classic victory that ran the 5-year-old mare’s career record to a perfect 14-for-14.
"“The only knock I have on Zenyatta is that all of her wins were on synthetic tracks,” Wiggins said. “Rachel Alexandra won on seven tracks, three times in the mud and was a 3-year-old filly beating older horses in a Grade I race. That just doesn’t happen.
“But then for Zenyatta to do what she did (yesterday in the Classic), that doesn’t happen often either.”
CARDINAL HANDICAP ATTRACTS 27 NOMINATIONS – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma, a two-time graded-stakes winner over the Matt Winn Turf Course, tops a list of 27 fillies and mares nominated to the 36th running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (GIII) to be run 1 1/8 miles on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Trained by David Carroll, Acoma won the Mrs. Revere (GII) here last fall and came back in June to win the Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) over Pure Clan, runner-up in Friday’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) at Santa Anita.
Two Cardinal nominees posted Grade III turf wins in their most recent starts.
Ronchalon Stable’s Belle Allure (Ire) took the Athenia at Belmont Park on Oct. 21 and Dell Ridge Farm’s Bluegrass Princess won a division of the Valley View on Oct. 23 at Keeneland.
Weights for the Cardinal will be announced on Saturday and entries will be taken on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Indescribable won last year’s Cardinal.
BARN TALK – Trainer Dale Romans said that his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly would be back in his barn at Churchill Downs on Sunday afternoon. Romans said that Tapitsfly, owned and bred by Frank Jones Jr., was “probably done for the year.” … Julien Leparoux, who rode three winners in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, was the winner of the seventh annual Bill Shoemaker Award given to the top jockey at the event. Leparoux’s winners were Informed Decision (Filly & Mare Sprint) and She Be Wild (Juvenile Fillies) on Friday and Furthest Land (Dirt Mile) on Saturday.