PLETCHER WORKMATES LOOK FOR STAKES DOUBLE, POSSIBLE TRIPLE - The Todd Pletcher trained duo of Mission Impazible and Excited trained together in their final major work for stakes races on Saturday’s Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dhabi program at Churchill Downs. Now the stable hopes both horses will find their way into the winner’s circle in their respective races.
Twin Creeks Racing Stable LLC’s Mission Impazible takes on 10 rivals in the day’s big race, the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI), the final event on Friday’s 12-race card. One race earlier, Michael Tabor’s Excited will run in the $125,000-added Regret Presented by Etihad Airways (GIII), so the stablemates could comprise a pleasing late daily double with wins for the Pletcher barn.
Mission Impazible, a 4-year-old colt who ran 10th to Super Saver in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), worked five furlongs in company with Excited, a 3-year-old filly whose best runs have come on grass, on Monday at Churchill Downs. Mission Impazible completed the work in 1:00.80, while Excited stopped the clock in 1:01.40.
“The work went very well,” assistant trainer Michael McCarthy said. “I think horses that work in company always get more out of it than when they work alone. They’re more aggressive when they have a workmate.
"Sometimes good horses need something to challenge them. We put Mission Impazible with Excited to try and wake him up a bit.”
Mission Impazible won the Grade II New Orleans Handicap earlier in the year, but will enter the Stephen Foster off a disappointing seventh-place finish as the $2.90-to-1 favorite in the Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day.
“We really don’t have an excuse for why he didn’t run well,” McCarthy said.
Mission Impazible drew post 11 for the Stephen Foster and will be ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano. McCarthy expects the 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song to be forwardly placed in the Foster.
“By drawing so far outside he’s going to have to be up near the pace, but we’ll have (jockey Javier) Castellano play it by ear,” McCarthy said.
Mission Impazible has a record of 3-3-2 from 10 career starts and earnings of $802,439.
The field for the Stephen Foster (with jockey, weight and morning line odds) from the rail out includes: Flat Out (Corey Lanerie, 114, 30-1), Crown of Thorns (Tyler Baze, 121, 4-1), Apart (Julien Leparoux, 118, 5-1), Worldly (Manoel Cruz, 113, 30-1), El Caballo (James Graham, 115, 15-1), Regal Ransom (Garcia, 117, 6-1), Equestrio (Jose Lezcano, 116, 12-1), Pool Play (Miguel Mena, 116, 20-1), Duke of Mischief (Bravo, 118, 6-1), Giant Oak (Bridgmohan, 122, 7-2) and Mission Impazible (Castellano, 118, 9-2).
While Mission Impazible will look to rebound a disappointing Alysheba run, Excited will attempt to move forward off a strong three-length victory in the $50,000 Hilltop on Preakness Day at Pimlico.
“There are a lot of nice fillies in the race, but I think she looks as good as any of them,” McCarthy said.
One of Excited’s main Regret rivals is Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu, who has finished ahead of Excited in two previous meetings. Kathmanblu finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Excited on turf in Gulfstream Park’s Sweetest Chant, and the former finished third while Excited was eighth when they met on Keeneland’s Polytrack course in the Ashland (GI) won by Lilacs and Lace.
Excited, a 3-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway, has a record of 2-3-1 from eight career starts with earnings of $130,700. Castellano will also be in the saddle aboard Excited.
The field for the Regret, from the hedge out (with jockey, weight), includes: Bizzy Caroline (Manoel Cruz, 116), Diva Ash (Robby Albarado, 116), Bouquet Booth (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118), Holidaysatthefarm (Jose Lezcano, 116), Kathmanblu (Julien Leparoux, 122), Excited (Castellano, 116), Gaya (James Graham, 118) and Blushandbashful (Freddie Lenclud, 116).
The Pletcher barn could have a third stakes starter Saturday if they elect to run Zayat Stables LLC’s Joe Vann in the $125,000-added Matt Winn Presented by Emirates Equestrian Federation (GIII), which is scheduled to be run as Race 10.
“A final decision has not been made at this time,” McCarthy said. “We could opt to run him in the Iowa Derby.”
The $250,000 Iowa Derby (GIII) is scheduled to be run on June 25 at Prairie Meadows.
The Matt Winn field, from the rail out (with jockey, weight), includes: Alstom (Calvin Borel, 116), Infrattini (Corey Lanerie, 116), Wilburn (Mike Smith, 116), Supreme Ruler (Jon Court, 116), Uncle Brent (Manoel Cruz, 120), Chalice (Julien Leparoux, 116), Scotus (Alan Garcia, 116) and Joe Vann (Castellano, 120).
PERREGAUX’S CONNECTIONS HOPE TALENT RUNS IN THE FAMILY – When Courtland Farm’s Perregaux makes his stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000- Jefferson Cup Presented by Abu Dhabi (GIII), his connections will be hoping the colt will display during that 1 1/16 mile run on the Matt Winn Turf Course the class and ability that oozes from both sides of his pedigree.
The Courtlandt Farms homebred Perregaux is a son of Distorted Humor, who has sired more than 100 stakes winners that include 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. But Perregaux is the first foal out of Sweet Talker, who counted the 2005 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (GI) on the Keeneland turf among four career stakes victories that also include the Caressing on the grass at Churchill Downs.
“Sweet Talker was a really nice horse,” trainer Neil Howard said. “I think he (Perregaux) is really training well and I expect him to run good Saturday.”
Perregaux will be making just his second start off his 3-year-old campaign in the Jefferson Cup. The colt was taken out of training for the first part of the year following ankle surgery to remove a small bone chip, but returned to the races earlier in the meet and ran second as the 5-2 favorite in a one mile allowance over the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 27.
“We backed off him and gave him some time after we removed the chip from his ankle,” Howard said. “We brought him back in the allowance and we were hoping he would run well and that we could run here (in the Jefferson Cup). This race has been on the radar for awhile.”
Perregaux’s runner-up performance in the allowance improved his record to 2-1-2 from six lifetime starts with $74,850 in earnings.
Robby Albarado, who has been aboard Perregaux in his last four races, will have the mount Saturday.
The field for the Jefferson Cup from the hedge out (with jockey, weight) includes: Live In Joy (Manoel Cruz, 117), Redboard (Leandro Goncalves, 117), Dream Warrior (Corey Lanerie, 117), Banned (Jose Lezcano, 121), Swagger Jack (James Graham, 117), Perregaux (Albarado, 117), Benergy (Javier Castellano, 117) and Great Mills (Julien Leparoux, 117).
Note: Live in Joy (5th), Swagger Jack (6th) and Great Mills (10th) competed in Wednesday night’s $200,000 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs and are unlikely to start Saturday.
FIELD FOR THE PRESIDENT OF UNITED ARAB EMIRATES CUP – Churchill Downs will run its first Arabian race in the storied history of the Louisville track on Saturday. The field for the Grade I, $50,000 The President of United Arab Emirates Cup for Arabians, 4-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles on the main track includes, from the rail out (with jockey, weight): T M Fred Texas (Santos Chavez, 118), Dixies Valentine (Calvin Borel, 118), Another Color (Constantino Roman, 123), Ovour the Top (Corey Lanerie, 118), Crownn Royal (Brian Hernandez Jr., 123), Vip (Aldo Canchano, 118), Wodkka (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., 123) and Grilla (William Hollick, 123).
MEET LEADERS AT A GLANCE – Through the 26 days of the 39-day Spring Meet, jockey Corey Lanerie, trainer Tom Amoss and owners Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds are the leaders in their respective categories at Churchill Downs. Below is a look at the leaders entering Thursday’s action:
1. Corey Lanerie (34-for-154, 22% win-percentage, $988,919 in earnings)
2. Shaun Bridgmohan (25-for-136, 18%, $811,232)
2. Julien Leparoux (25-for-125, 20%, $865,407)
4. Calvin Borel (21-for-145, 14%, $699,950)
5. Miguel Mena (16-for-111, 14%, $544,381)
6. Manoel Cruz (15-for-94, 16%, $567,221)
6. Kent Desormeaux (15-for-94, 16%, $791,929)
6. Jon Court (15-for-106, 14%, $429,637)
1. Tom Amoss (13-for-30, 43%, $343,106)
2. Steve Asmussen (12-for-76, 16%, $1,009,122)
3. Dale Romans (9-for-67, 13%, $746,508)
4. Eddie Kenneally (8-for-33, 24%, $205,378)
4. Ken McPeek (8-for-42, 19%, $476,972)
6. Brad Cox (7-for-34, 21%, $142,337)
6. Tim Glyshaw (7-for-27, 26%, $116,618)
6. Ian Wilkes (7-for-47, 15%, $305,063)
1. Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds (6-for-32, 19%, $133,582)
2. Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack (4-for-16, 25%, $78,649)
2. Tom Ludt’s Vinery Stables (4-for-10, 40%, $140,368)
2. Donald Adam’s Courtlandt Farms (4-for-20, 20%, $255,964)
BARN TALK – Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser Select returns to Churchill Downs on Friday. Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m. Friday night’s season premiere will showcase a special performance by legendary music icon Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC fame, who will perform many of his classic hits for an hour after the last race. …
Friday’s “Hot Summer Nights” concept will showcase lots of hot orange and hot pink décor with a bit of a ‘60s vibe, complete with Go-Go dancers on pedestals in the paddock. The Churchill Downs facilities will be adorned by mood lighting, spotlights and seasonal greenery, and colorful bunting will flow throughout the grounds and entrances. With sleek and comfortable conversational seating options, cocktail tables, unique food and beverage stations and music added to the mix, the racetrack – particularly the paddock area – will have the look and feel of an upscale night club. …
The popular sweepstakes promotion Bet or No Bet will also return on Friday. Registration will take place in the paddock area for the chance to take $100 in cash or place a free $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race. Bet or No Bet will take place during races 6-9. …
Nominations for the 110th running of the Grade III, $100,000-added Bashford Manor for 2-year-olds at six furlongs on the main track at Churchill Downs will close Saturday. The Bashford Manor, which is scheduled to be run Saturday, July 2, was won last year by Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Kantharos under Robby Albarado for trainer Steve Asmussen. …
Nominations for the 21st running of the Grade II, $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course will close Saturday. The Firecracker Handicap, which is scheduled to be run on Monday, July 4, was won last year by Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu under Jesus Castanon for trainer Greg Fox. …
WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockeys over the last five racing days (June 5-12) are Julien Leparoux (8-for-21), Corey Lanerie (8-for-36) and Manoel Cruz (7-for-31). Tom Amoss (4-for-6) is the hottest trainer over the same period. The hottest owner is Maggi Moss (2-for-2).
WEATHER – Thursday: sunny, 87. Friday: partly sunny with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 86. Friday night: mostly cloudy with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 70. Saturday: partly sunny with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 90. Sunday: partly sunny and hot with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, 94. Monday: mostly sunny and hot, 94. Tuesday: mostly sunny and hot, 94. Wednesday: partly sunny with a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 92.