Reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin and three-time Grade I turf winner Einstein, the 1-2 finishers in the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on dirt on June 14, top a list of 35 nominations for the 19th running of the Firecracker Handicap (GII) over the Matt Winn Turf Course at a mile on July 4.
Curlin, owned by Stonestreet Stables and Midnight Cry Stables, is not expected to run in the Firecracker, but Einstein, owned by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green, Lessee, could use the race as a prep for the Aug. 9 Arlington Million (GI).
Other graded or group stakes winners on the grass nominated to the Firecracker include Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s Becrux; Brant Laue’s Gun Salute; James Scatuorchio’s Icy Atlantic; Heiligbrodt Racing’s Stable’s Opening Verse winner Inca King, who is undefeated in three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course; Carl Moore Management and Martin Racing Stable’s Mr. Nightlinger; Stud TNT’s Portuga; Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song; and, Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Whatsthescript.
Weights for the Firecracker will be announced Friday, June 27.
Nominations are also out for the July 5 $150,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) and the closing day, July 6 $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII).
Kentucky Stakes (GIII) winner Run Away and Hide, owned by Ronald Kirk, John Bates and Michael Riordan, tops the list of 22 nominees for the 107th running of the Bashford Manor for 2-year-olds going six furlongs. Trained by Ronny Werner, Run Away and Hide is undefeated in two starts.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Bashford Manor a record five times and he is represented by one nominee, Robert Baker and William Mack’s Fast Draw, who is slated to make his racing debut on Wednesday’s card.
Kodiak Kowboy won the 2007 Bashford Manor for trainer Steve Asmussen, who has nominated Padua Stables’ Segal and J. Kirk Robison’s Lyin’ Heart.
Eclipse Award winner Dreaming of Anna, who took the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) in his most recent start on June 14, tops the list of 45 nominees to the Locust Grove, which is run at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Owned by Frank Calabrese and trained by Wayne Catalano, Dreaming of Anna has won eight of her 11 turf starts and placed second in the other three.
Trainer Bill Mott has won the Locust Grove a record four times and he is represented by three nominees: Swettenham Stud’s Paris Winds, IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm’s Sharp Susan, and Diane and Guy Snowden’s Stormy West.
Weights for the Locust Grove will be announced on Sunday, June 29.
AUDIBLE CALLED: THERIOT HEADING TO SARATOGA – The plan was for jockey Jamie Theriot to have an easy summer that would involve riding some horses at Ellis Park when the Churchill Downs meet ended July 6.
The plan has changed.
“We’ve called an audible,” agent Fred Aime said. “We’re going to Saratoga. We are going to go up a week before the meet opens (on July 23) and make the rounds and work some horses.”
Theriot, who won six races on June 18 and stands fourth in the rider standings with 42 victories, has rebounded from an 8-for-86 start to hit at nearly a 26 percent clip (34 for 131) since May 23.
“Jamie just bought a house here and he was going to stay here this summer and ride some at Ellis Park,” Aime said. “But we decided it might be time to pull the trigger.”
BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR BRIDGMOHAN: BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN – Shaun Bridgmohan turned 29 on Tuesday and he started the day by doing what he likes to do best: getting on a horse.
Bridgmohan was injured in a spill Saturday, but was back at the track for the first time Tuesday.
“I was a little scared,” Bridgmohan said. “I haven’t seen the replay of it yet. But I was lucky. Nothing was broken, just a cut on my right arm and the back of my left knee.”
The first horse Bridgmohan worked Tuesday was Whirlie Bertie, a two-time winner this meet for trainer Steve Margolis.
“I put some pressure on my leg and it didn’t hurt,” Bridgmohan said. “I tested it (in the work) and it was fine.”
Whirlie Bertie worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a fast track, the fastest move of 11 at the distance on Tuesday and had Margolis looking ahead for the homebred 3-year-old filly owned by Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein.
“There is a two other than next week and after that hopefully on to bigger and better things,” Margolis said. “She worked in a minute in just a gallop. Shaun never asked her. I had her galloping out in 1:13 and change and seven-eighths in 1:27 and change.”
Whirlie Bertie, a daughter of Stormin Fever out of the Kleins’ Grade II winner De Bertie, broke her maiden in her second start on May 2, winning by 3 ¼ lengths going a mile and a sixteenth. She came back on May 21 to clear her first allowance condition by 7 ¾ lengths at a mile and one-eighth.
MY BABY BABY HEADED FOR AMERICAN OAKS – Trainer Ken McPeek said that Edgewood (GIII) runner-up My Baby Baby, who races for his wife Sue, is scheduled to work this week and ship Monday to Hollywood Park for the $750,000 American Oaks Invitational (GI) to be run July 5.
Another McPeek runner that could go back on the road is Alien Farm’s Nistle’s Crunch, who ran second in last Saturday’s rain-drenched Colonial Turf Cup (GIII) at Colonial Downs.
“It only rained for about an hour that day … a half-hour before the race and a half-hour after,” McPeek said. “He’s back here now and he may go back for the Virginia Derby (on July 19).”
Fourth-place Preakness finisher Racecar Rhapsody, who was scratched out of a race last week after being sold, remains in McPeek’s barn.
“He’s still with us,” McPeek said. “I am going to work him this week, and he may run before the meet is over.”
ONE CAROLINE MORE THAN FINE IN SUNDAY ROMP – There could be a new star on the horizon in the 3-year-old filly ranks this year and her name is One Caroline.
Trained by Rusty Arnold for G. Watts Humphrey Jr., One Caroline passed her first allowance test in style Sunday by romping to a front-running 6 ¾-length victory while being geared down late over a mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.07.
“It has been awhile since we had one win like that,” said Jack Bohannan, who is in charge of Arnold’s string at Churchill Downs. “Rusty thought of all the 3-year-old fillies that we had she was the best one and she showed it Sunday.”
A $400,000 purchase in 2006, One Caroline is a daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of the Broad Brush mare Powder. She broke her maiden in her debut at Churchill Downs on May 17 as the 6-5 favorite going a mile and a sixteenth.
“We are going to have to find out how she likes to run,” Bohannan said. “(Sunday) I thought she was doing too much going into the first turn and in her first race she didn’t break.”
One Caroline has been training at Keeneland and could head to Saratoga next.
“Rusty and Mr. Humphrey will get their heads together, but I would guess she would go to Saratoga for a two other than allowance and then try a stake, maybe the (Grade I) Alabama (on Aug. 16).”
PRETTY PROLIFIC PRETTY PROFESSIONAL IN POWERFUL PERFORMANCE – Trainer Jim Baker added to his good meet Sunday when his promising 2-year-old filly Pretty Prolific rolled to an easy win in her career debut to give Baker his fifth winner from 16 starters.
“She was very professional,” Baker said of Pretty Prolific, who won by 3 ½ lengths and covered the five furlongs in :58.53. “She was good in the paddock. She has got some class to her.”
A daughter of 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart, Pretty Prolific is owned by Tom Walters, who also owns Churchill Downs Handicap (GII) winner Elite Squadron.
“He was here for her race and he is just floating on air right now,” Baker said of Walters. “I think we may take her to Saratoga next.”
Elite Squadron is headed for the July 5 Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (GI) at Hollywood Park and worked a bullet five-eighths in :58.80 on Saturday. Baker said that Rafael Bejarano would have the mount in the Triple Bend.
BARN TALK – There were six dead heats during the past week of racing bring the number of dead heats for the meet to 14 through the first 42 days of racing. Of the 14, none has been to win. … With 10 racing days left in the meet, the race for leading trainer has evolved into a three-way battle among Tom Amoss (26), Ken McPeek (25) and Steve Asmussen (23). Asmussen, who won training titles at both Churchill Downs meets in 2007, has a chance to gain ground the next two days with seven horses entered. Amoss has four entrants and McPeek two. … Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who have teamed to win 12 owner titles at Churchill Downs, enter the final two weeks of the meet with a 14-12 edge in winners over Maggi Moss, who was the leading owner at the 2007 Spring Meet. The Ramseys have four runners entered the next two days; Moss has one.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Sunday, June 22
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Robby Albarado 210 53-29-27
Miguel Mena 284 49-45-40
Julien Leparoux 254 45-48-44
Jamie Theriot 217 42-32-27
Calvin Borel 241 40-34-36
Shaun Bridgmohan 182 36-33-25
Jesus Castanon 214 24-22-25
Corey Lanerie 180 17-23-21
Brian Hernandez Jr. 160 15-23-15
John McKee 125 10-20-18
Elvis Trujillo 77 10-10-19
Tom Amoss 63 26-11-10
Ken McPeek 67 25-12-5
Steve Asmussen 109 23-18-17
Mike Maker 50 14-11-7
Ian Wilkes 42 13-9-5
Dale Romans 113 12-25-20
Eddie Kenneally 54 12-9-8
Greg Foley 58 9-9-8
Bret Calhoun 21 9-1-3
Cody Autrey 49 8-9-10
Nick Zito 20 8-5-1
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 48 14-8-11
Maggi Moss 26 12-6-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 44 7-10-10
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 33 7-7-5
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 14 5-1-0
Five (5) owners tied at four (4) wins