PURE CLAN WORKS FIVE FURLONGS FOR REGRET – With part owner Lewis Lakin looking on, Pure Clan put in her final work for next weekend’s $200,000-added Regret (Grade III) by working five furlongs in 1:02.20 over “firm” turf Thursday morning under Julien Leparoux.

            The work was the second on the grass for Pure Clan, who ran third in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on May 2 in her most recent start. She had worked the same distance in 1:03.20 on May 29 with the “dogs” up.

            “I thought she worked well; better than last week,” trainer Bob Holthus said of the move that was accomplish with the dogs up and the rail out 15 feet from the hedge.

            Pure Clan, who is owned in partnership by Lakin, IEAH Stable and Pegasus Holding Group Stables, won her first two career starts on the grass. Her next five starts have been on the dirt in graded stakes and that versatility gives Holthus dual options with the daughter of Pure Prize.

            “If we go back to the dirt, we will wait for the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) at a mile and a quarter at Belmont on July 19,” Holthus said. “The second part of the Triple Tiara series is the Mother Goose (GI) on June 28 and that would be too close, so we will let (Kentucky Oaks winner) Proud Spell and some of the others battle it out there and wait for the last one.

            “Mr. Lakin has been contacted about the American Oaks Invitational (GI) at Hollywood Park on July 5, and if she runs well here, I think it is a foregone conclusion she will get an invitation. If we do that and stay on the grass, the race at Del Mar (the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 16) would be the next target. We only want to run her three or four more times this year and want to try to win a Grade I with her.”     

FORGET ASCOT, MY BABY BABY ROMPS AT CHURCHILL – Another filly hoping to secure an invitation to the American Oaks is Magadalena Racing’s My Baby Baby.

            The Bernstein filly romped by 5 ¾ lengths over older foes in Wednesday’s ninth race for trainer Ken McPeek, who races the filly for his wife Sue.

            Never worse than third in seven career starts, My Baby Baby had run second in the May 2 Edgewood and had Ken McPeek thinking of a trip to England with the filly.

            “I was going to run her in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot on June 19,” McPeek said of the mile and a half, Group II test for three-year-old fillies. “But the logistics just got too complicated. We’d have to go to New York, quarantine at Belmont and then go

on to Stansted (in London). I had done it before a few years ago with Hard Buck, but we were in New Jersey then.”

            The filly is named for Jena McPeek, the couple’s seven-year-old daughter.

            “When she was little, we’d see a baby in a stroller or carrier and she’d say ‘baby, baby’,” McPeek said. “A few years ago, she said ‘I’m not a baby; I’m a big girl,’ but I said ‘you’ll always be my baby baby’ and I named the horse for her.”

            Jena was a happy celebrant in the winner’s circle Wednesday and her father said she would have made the Ascot trip had the filly gone overseas. A trip to Hollywood Park in July may have to do.

            “I hope to get invited,” McPeek said.

            McPeek also said that Racecar Rhapsody, fourth behind Big Brown in the Preakness on May 17, could resurface in the June 14 Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill Downs.

            McPeek will be busy that day regardless of Racecar Rhapsody’s participation. The trainer plans to run C J’s Leelee in the Regret and has three possibles for the Jefferson Cup (GII) in Hard Strike, Nistle’s Crunch and two-time stakes winner Old Man Buck. 

JOCKEY MICK RUIS RESURRECTING CAREER IN KENTUCKY – With his career in full flight two years ago, Mick Ruis had the opportunity to ride in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (GII) at Keeneland.

            “My girlfriend and I fell in love with the place, it was so pretty,” Ruis said. “I made a note of it to come back.”

            Fast forward two years and Ruis is back at age 21 and many years wiser after taking some time off away from the track.

            “I had a lot of success early, but I kind of burned bridges here and there,” said Ruis, a San Diego native who began riding at age 16. “You think they need you but they don’t. You need them. When I was sitting on the sidelines, people I was riding for were still winning. It was a reality check to see those guys winning without me.”

            Ruis, who was the leading rider at Turf Paradise in 2004 with 132 winners, caught the eye of Churchill Downs track announcer Luke Kruytbosch who also serves in the same role in Phoenix at Turf Paradise in the winter.

            “Luke kept telling me that I should come back here,” Ruis said. “He said ‘I watched you ride at Turf Paradise and I know you are just as good as those guys. If you want to uproot and come back east, I think it would be a great career move.’

            “I thought about it. I took about a four-month break and I was either going to quit riding or start a new business with my dad in construction. Then Luke called me and I decided I wanted to give it one more run.”

            The run has resulted in introducing his talents to a new crop of trainers on a totally different circuit than the one he was on at Turf Paradise and Emerald Downs in Washington.

            “I have been working hard every morning and have a good attitude,” Ruis said. “I love the trainers here. They seem like great people. You can just tell when you meet them. I like these guys.”

            Ruis, who plans to stay in Kentucky and go to Ellis Park after the Churchill Downs meet ends July 6, has had only four mounts locally since getting back in the saddle. He has no doubts that winners and success will come now that his batteries have been recharged by the time off.

            “Mentally (the break) made me more mature,” Ruis said. “I have been out there every day since I was 16 and straight out of a high school and had more success than most people starting out in Southern California. (The break) was the first time I had time to kind of find myself. I had the time off to kind of think of everything and hit rock bottom almost mentally.

            “I said I can either call it quits here and be a guy that had a great apprentice year and a great two years after and then fell apart, or I can come back strong in new scenery and make an impact.

            “I am not worried about the ability, because when I started I rode with the best with eight Hall of Famers in the (jocks) room. That was a tough room. If I stick it out, I know it is going to go good. I am working hard and keeping my mouth shut.”


BARN TALK – The victory by William Carl’s Screen Your Friend ($5.60) in Wednesday’s fifth race gave trainer Bernie Flint his 399th career win at Churchill Downs. Fourth on the all-time victory list for trainers at Churchill Downs, the 68-year-old native of New Orleans will have his first shot at victory No. 400 in Thursday afternoon’s ninth race with Cool Hero, owned by L T B Inc. and Miles Childers. Flint has two horses entered on Friday. … 2007 Eclipse Award winning rider Garrett Gomez has been confirmed to ride Hystericalady for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the $300,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) on June 14. … Ashbrook Farm’s Wicked Style, winner of the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (GI) last fall at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold, is scheduled to make his second start of 2008 in the $200,000-added Jefferson Cup (GII) on June 14. Wicked Style ran fifth against older horses in his 2008 debut on May 21 at Churchill Downs.


WORK TAB – In addition to Pure Clan, two other nominees to the Regret worked on the firm turf Thursday morning. Vegso Racing Stable and Seidler Racing Stable’s Creative Design covered a half-mile in :52.20 for trainer Tom Proctor. G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Magical Theater worked five furlongs in 1:03.20 for trainer Rusty Arnold. … Two nominees for the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) turned in five furlong works: Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Lady (1:01) for trainer Eddie Kenneally and Elisabeth Alexander’s Sousaphone (1:05.60) for trainer Michelle Nihei.


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