QUALITY ROAD FINALLY MAKES IT TO CHURCHILL DOWNS – Edward Evans’ Quality Road was scheduled to make his initial appearance at Churchill Downs in late April as the probable favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I).
A problem with quarter cracks derailed those plans.
However, more than six months later, Quality Road finally did make it to Louisville, although in a way no one could have envisioned.
Scratched at the starting gate from last Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita after he refused to load, Quality Road was scheduled to return to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn at Belmont Park on Monday by plane. However, Quality Road balked at loading on the plane and the decision was made to van the colt back to New York by way of Kentucky.
“He got here about 6 this morning after 34 hours on the road,” said Michael Dilger, who is overseeing Pletcher’s string at Churchill Downs. “He seems like he is OK. He will walk the shedrow and graze some and he could possibly go to the track Sunday. We will see how he is in the morning and make a decision.”
Plans call for Quality Road to spend a couple of days here and then board the van Monday afternoon for the return to Belmont Park.
VERSATILE PROCEED BEE PROVES HE CAN HANDLE ANY SURFACE – In the new era of all-weather racing surfaces, there are horses that can handle one form of track but not another.
Don’t put Proceed Bee in that group.
“He has won on all the surfaces they have,” trainer Scott Becker said of William Stiritz’s Proceed Bee, who figures to be one of the choices in Sunday’s sixth running of the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII).
A winner of 7 of 14 career starts, Proceed Bee has won twice on dirt, twice on Polytrack and three times on grass and has won stakes on all three surfaces in 2009.
Proceed Bee comes into the Commonwealth Turf on a two-race win streak with victories in the Honor Glide at Arlington Park and the Hawthorne Derby (GIII) at Hawthorne on Oct. 10.
“He probably came out of the Hawthorne Derby better than he went into it,” said Becker, who brought Proceed Bee to Churchill Downs on Friday night from Fairmount Park. “He worked well on Tuesday (:47.40 at Fairmount) and has been galloping well since his last race.”
The Commonwealth Turf will represent Proceed Bee’s second Churchill Downs start. He won the Grand Canyon over the Matt Winn Turf Course on closing day here last fall and Becker was here as an assistant for Terry Gestes.
“We actually thought he would have done a little more this year,” Becker said. “He was a little immature and can be quirky in the paddock and fidgety in the gate, but the last couple of races he has exceeded expectations.”
The Commonwealth Turf will be the 11th start of 2009 for Proceed Bee, who won the Battaglia Memorial over Polytrack at Turfway Park in March and the Prairie Mile on dirt at Prairie Meadows in June.
“He has had a long campaign and I keep looking for an excuse to give him a break, but he keeps coming out of his races 110 percent,” Becker said.
Chris Emigh, who has been aboard for four of Proceed Bee’s victories, will be aboard Sunday, his first day back in the saddle after being involved in a spill on the turf on Wednesday.
ACOMA, BELLE ALLURE SHARE CARDINAL HANDICAP HIGH WEIGHT – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma and Ronchalon Stable’s Belle Allure (Ire) were assigned high weight of 121 pounds for next Saturday’s Cardinal Handicap (GIII) by Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.
Acoma, trained by David Carroll, has won two graded stakes over the Matt Winn Turf Course on which the Cardinal will be run at 1 1/8 miles. Belle Allure, trained by Christophe Clement, won the Grade III Athenia at Belmont Park on Oct. 21 in her most recent start.
Acoma is considered by Churchill Downs racing officials as probable for the race. Entries will be taken Wednesday for the 36th running of the $100,000-added event.
Also considered as probable for the race are the three distaffers weighted at 119 pounds: Leamington, Lemon Chiffon and Tizfiz.
Other probables and their weight assignments are Social Queen (118), You Go West Girl (117), My Baby Baby (116) and Polo Lounge (112).
Horses considered as possible are 2008 Cardinal runner-up Long Approach (116), Celtic Princess (Brz) (115) and Finish in Style (110).
BARN TALK – “Horses and Hope,” the initiative created in 2008 by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear with the Kentucky Cancer Program, returns Sunday to focus attention on breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral for the women who work in the barn areas at Kentucky racetracks. More than 700 cancer survivors attended the inaugural event a year ago in Millionaire’s Row 4. In conjunction with “Horses and Hope,” the color pink will be scattered throughout Churchill Downs, including saddle towels for a featured race, jockey arm bands, groom’s vests, outriders, flags, bunting and trophies for the winning horse owners. … Churchill Downs’ signature Twin Spires are now bathed in pink light in honor of the work of “Horses and Hope” and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer outreach organization and a fundraising sponsor with Churchill Downs for the 135th running of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) won by “Horse of the Year” contender Rachel Alexandra … Tickets remain available for the Calvin Borel Roast benefiting the Kentucky Equine Humane Center to be held Sunday, Nov. 22. The roast will be held in the Triple Crown Room at Churchill Downs from 5:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person. For information, call Kelly Danner at (502) 638-3825.