STEPHEN FOSTER BID POSSIBLE FOR GENERAL QUARTERS – Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy wanted to keep Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) winner General Quarters on the grass after that big Derby Day victory, but there is a tempting target in three weeks that could put the 4-year-old Sky Mesa colt back on dirt.
“I am thinking about it,” McCarthy said of the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) to be run June 12. “I’d like to keep him on the grass, but there is nothing for him on the grass when we need to run.”
After the Turf Classic victory, the second Grade I triumph for General Quarters who took the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last spring on Polytrack at Keeneland, McCarthy had mentioned the Arlington Handicap (GIII) to be run July 17 as his prep for the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 21.
The Stephen Foster is six weeks (from the Turf Classic),” McCarthy said. “The only other spot where he could run would be at Monmouth, but I don’t want to ship him when I can just walk out the door here.”
A Stephen Foster triumph would put General Quarters in exclusive company. Only Lava Man has won Grade I races on grass, dirt and a synthetic surface. General Quarters is two-thirds of the way there.
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND STAKES FIELDS TAKING SHAPE – Atta Boy Roy did not take the money and run back west.
Winner of the Grade II Churchill Downs on May 1, Atta Boy Roy is one of four sprinters considered as “probable” by Churchill Downs racing officials for next Saturday’s 22nd running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) at six furlongs on dirt..
Trained by Valorie Lund for R.E.V. Racing, Atta Boy Roy made his Churchill Downs debut a winning one by holding off Warrior’s Reward in the seven-furlong sprint on Derby Day.
Others considered likely to face Atta Boy Roy in the Aristides are Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, winner of five of six career starts; Courtlandt Farms’ Cassoulet; and, Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Chief of Affairs, winner of the James Whitcomb Riley at Indiana Downs on May 12 in his most recent start.
Also slated for next Saturday is the 36th running of the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the main track.
Topping a list of seven probables is Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, who is coming off a fifth-place finish behind Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks (GI). Other probables are Patricia Blass’ Bell’s Shoes, Lansdon Robbins III and Samuel Delaney’s Fuzzy Britches, Desk Farms’ Helen Belen, Carl Pollard’s Tap Tap Tapping, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Vertical Vision and Martin Cherry’s Visavis.
Entries for the Aristides and Dogwood will be taken Wednesday.
Defending champion Dubai Majesty tops a list of six probable starters for the seventh running of the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) to be run at six furlongs on the main track on Monday, May 31.
Owned by the Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan, Dubai Majesty has won two of five starts at Churchill Downs and in her career has a record of 4-5-0 in 11 races at the Winning Colors distance.
Other probables for entry in the race on Friday include Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Emmy Darling, Mrs. Ty Scheumann’s J A Warrior, Carl Pollard’s Minewander, Richland Hills and John Kuehl’s Secret Gypsy and Joseph Sutton’s Warbling.
HOLTHUS HOPEFUL THE OLD PURE CLAN RETURNS IN JULY – Two weeks ago, trainer Bob Holthus feared he had lost his stable star, Lewis Lakin’s Pure Clan, when the 5-year-old mare refused to train.
“We didn’t know what it was,” Holthus said of Pure Clan, who has not raced since finishing second in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) at Santa Anita.
Atrip to Rood & Riddle in Lexington discovered a bruised left front foot. Pure Clan is spending her days now at Lakin’s Versailles farm exercising on an Aqua-tred.
“We are trying to keep the weight off her foot,” Holthus said. “If we get her back in the barn by the first of July we have a chance to make the Flower Bowl.”
Pure Clan won the Flower Bowl (GI) last October at Belmont Park and five weeks later made her Breeders’ Cup run to cap a five-race season.
Holthus was hoping for a similar campaign this year, but said “it looks like we are down to two or three (races).
“We’d like to make the Flower Bowl and then train up to the Breeders’ Cup (at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5-6). But you have to get to the first one first.”
Pure Clan, who has compiled a career mark of 8-4-3 in 16 races with earnings of $1,987,498, was turned out after the Breeders’ Cup last year.
“She was as good as she was all year after the Breeders’ Cup,” Holthus said. “Sometimes, I wish I had not taken her out of training.”
BARN TALK – Tom and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to work Monday or Tuesday at Trackside Training Center as he continues preparations for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (GI). “He will leave for New York on the 27th and then have one work at Belmont,” trainer Mike Maker said of the winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) at Keeneland on April 10. …
Apprentice Freddie Lenclud posted his second three-win day of the meet on Friday. Lenclud, who also won three races on May 6, moved into a tie for seventh place in the rider standings with 10 victories this spring. Lenclud’s winners were Hands On ($4.40 in the 1st race), Excitable Boy ($9 in 2nd) and New Frontier ($5.20, 8th). …
Steve Bass, agent for sidelined jockey Julien Leparoux, is hopeful his rider can be back in action by the end of June. “He is resting and he is bored,” Bass said of Leparoux, who suffered a compression fracture in his vertebrae in a spill May 14 at Pimlico. “He goes back to the doctor next week and in four weeks he will get another MRI. Leparoux, second in the rider standings with 13 victories, had been named on six mounts Friday. Of the six, five won and the sixth ran second.
Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby (GI), galloped for the first time since returning to Churchill Downs on Thursday night. With Arielle Witkowski up, Mine That Bird was on the “muddy” track shortly after 6:30. “He is light on his feet,” new trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “He went a mile and five-eighths this morning and didn’t take a deep breath coming back.”
WORK TAB (Track: GOOD) – Churchill Downs (GII) winner Atta Boy Roy, prepping for next Saturday’s Aristides (GIII), blazed a half-mile in :46.60 after the renovation break. The move was the fastest of 31 at the distance. Also working a half-mile were defending Winning Colors (GIII) champion Dubai Majesty (:47.80, fourth- fastest) and La Canada (GII) winner Striking Dancer (:48.80) in preparation for the June 12 Fleur De Lis (GII). Custom for Carlos, winner of the Grade III Mr. Prospector and Count Fleet Handicaps, drilled a bullet five-eighths in :59 after the break. Ben Ali (GIII) winner Dubious Miss covered five furlongs in :59.80, fourth-fastest of 16 at the distance.
HORSEMEN’S GOLF SCRAMBLE RETURNS ON JUNE 8 – The second annual Horsemen’s Golf Scramble will be held Tuesday, June 8 at the Glenmary Country Club in Fern Creek, Ky., to help raise funds for the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs. The cost of the golf outing is $100 per player with four players to a team. Players will be treated to an 11 a.m. lunch. The 18-hole tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. There will be contests for the longest drive, closest to the pin, and a hole-in-one in which someone could win a 2010 Toyota Corolla from Oxmoor Toyota. Registration is due Friday and entry forms can be found at the Backside Learning Center or by visiting www.derbymusuem.org/backsidelc.
PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES UP FOR GRABS IN SUNDAY’S ‘WHO’S THE CHAMP?’ HANDICAPPING CONTEST – Churchill Downs’ “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest continues every Sunday through June 13 with $4,000 in prize money and a coveted prize package to compete in the Horseplayer World Series each week.
The weekly first prize is $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas with round-trip airfare courtesy of American Airlines to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.
Ira Hopkins of Louisville was last week’s winner.
The “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest is a game of skill that tests the player’s ability to handicap Thoroughbred racing. Each contestant will start the day with a $24 imaginary bankroll and may only wager exactly $2 to win and $2 to place on six designated races from Churchill Downs.
The contest costs $30 per entry ($25 for Twin Spires Club members) and is limited to 400 entries with a limit of three entries per person. Registration is open Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse.