Pitts Ecstatic Over Einstein's Clark Performance - More than 12 hours after Einstein's tour de force victory in the $400,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade II), the smile had not left the face of trainer Helen Pitts.[asset|]
"I am just so proud of him," Pitts said of Einstein's 1 ½-length victory over Delightful Kiss. "I have never had a horse that loves his job so much."
Einstein, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day, tracked odds-on favorite Commentator until the top of the stretch when he powered by to give jockey Julien Leparoux his fifth winner of the day.
The victory was the fourth of the year for Einstein to go with three seconds in an eight-race campaign. Pitts called it his best race of the year.
"The Turf Classic on Derby Day here was phenomenal," Pitts said of that victory, "and his Stephen Foster (second to Curlin) was great. But yesterday was sensational, the top of the heap, the way he did it coming off the layoff."
Einstein had not run since a troubled fifth in the Aug. 9 Arlington Million (GI) on the Arlington Park turf. The Clark victory closed out the year for Einstein.
"He will leave in 10 days for Gulfstream Park," Pitts said. "Our next goal with him is the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (GI to be run Feb. 1)."
Einstein is a two-time winner of the Gulfstream Park race.
Is there any chance Einstein could return to the dirt?
"Probably the only place I would run him on the dirt would be here," Pitts said of Einstein, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on the dirt on Nov. 6, 2005 and has a 2-1-0 record in three races over the local course. "He really loves the dirt here."
SUNSHINE MILLIONS NEXT OBJECTIVE FOR DELIGHTFUL KISS - Hobeau Farm's Delightful Kiss, a hard-charging runner-up to Einstein in the Clark Handicap, was scheduled to leave Churchill Downs around noon on Saturday for a return to his home base at Calder Race Course in Miami.
"He ran a big race yesterday; he was really running at the finish," trainer Pete Anderson said.
The 1 1/8-mile Clark closed out a strong finish to 2008 for Delightful Kiss, who scored Grade III victories in the Turfway Park Fall Championship and the All American Stakes at Golden Gate before running fourth, beaten two lengths, in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
"My next goal for him will be the Sunshine Millions at the end of January (Jan. 24)," Anderson said. "I might run him on the grass prior to that."
Anderson first brought Delightful Kiss to Churchill Downs in the spring of 2007 with hopes of getting in the Kentucky Derby. However, insufficient graded earnings kept Delightful Kiss out of the "Run for the Roses" won by Street Sense.
Anderson was asked if he thought he would have had the same success with Delightful Kiss had he run in the Kentucky Derby.
"It is hard to say because he won the Ohio Derby soon after that and he was very close to top form," Anderson said. "He had a quarter crack that we were fighting after the Arkansas Derby. I would have liked to have made the Kentucky Derby, because at my age (now 77), I don't think I am going to get many chances.
"I am fortunate to have him, he is a true delight. He has added 10 years to my life and for that I don't mind him biting me and kicking me."
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR LEPAROUX - Julien Leparoux started the 26-day Fall Meet on fire and never cooled to an ember.
He took the lead for keeps in the rider standings with a four-win day on Oct. 30, the third day of the meet, and never looked back.
Leparoux hit the 10-day mark with 23 victories and the early pace had him on a path to break Pat Day's 23-year-old Fall Meet record of 55 victories. The bulk of the wins came for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker.
"Hopefully, everyone will break a record," Leparoux said three weeks ago of the record pace the Ramseys and Maker were on.
In Friday's third race, Leparoux made it mission accomplished on all counts when his victory aboard the Ramseys-owned and Maker-trained Just Like William gave him 56 winners.
Leparoux added three more winners on his five-win Friday and entered Saturday's card with 59 victories. Leparoux also had also posted 40 second-place finishes and 25 thirds for an in-the-money percentage of 62. He was named on nine mounts on Saturday's final racing program of the Fall Meet.
Maker enters closing day with 29 winners, 28 of which have been ridden by Leparoux. Maker, who obliterated the previous Fall Meet record of 20 victories set by Dale Romans during the 27-day meet of 2003, has four horses entered today.
The Ramseys have 24 victories of which 22 have been ridden by Leparoux. With only two runners entered Saturday, there is one record that will elude the Ramseys' grasp: Most wins at a single meet.
During the 93-day Spring Meet in 1984, A.J. Foyt Jr. established that mark with 27 winners during the 93-day Spring Meet of 1984. The previous Fall Meet record was 15 victories, set by T. Alie Grissom during the 23-day session in 1965.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) - Magdalena Racing's Mrs. Revere (GII) runner-up My Baby Baby worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.60 for trainer Ken McPeek. Also working for McPeek were Koolmen Racing Stable's graded stakes-placed A to the Croft (1:02.60 for five-eighths, 10th best of 17) and Lansdon Robbins III's stylish 2-year-old debut winner Danger to Society (:48.40 for a half-mile, fourth best of 35).