NOMINATIONS CLOSE FOR $750,000-ADDED STEPHEN FOSTER, FIVE ‘SUPER SATURDAY’ RACES – Nominations close at midnight (all times EDT) Saturday for the 27th running of Churchill Downs’ $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) and the five stakes races on the undercard for “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” on Saturday, June 14.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is the main event on the “Super Saturday” schedule that packs total stakes purses of $1.775 million.
Stonestreet Stable LLC and Midnight Cry Stable’s reigning “Horse of the Year” Curlin is expected to top the roster of 3-year-olds and up that will be nominated to the Stephen Foster Handicap. The race is being strongly considered for the return to competition by the 4-year-old champion who scored a dominant victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) at Nad Al Sheba in his most recent start on March 29.
The five remaining races on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” schedule include the $300,000-added Fleur De Lis (GII) for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $200,000-added Jefferson Cup (GII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf; the $200,000-added Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies on turf at 1 1/8 miles; the $175,000-added Northern Dancer (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt; and the $150,000-added Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Information is available from Churchill Downs Racing at (502) 636-4470, or nominations may be made via fax at (502) 636-4479. Stakes nomination forms are available on-line at http://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/files/29.
STALL WORKS LOUISIANA DERBY VETS TOGETHER – The runners-up in the last two renewals of the Louisiana Derby (GII) reside in the barn of trainer Al Stall Jr., and the New Orleans native worked the B. Wayne Hughes-owned duo in company on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old Ketchikan, runner-up to Circular Quay in the 2007 Louisiana Derby, breezed four furlongs in the company of the 3-year-old My Pal Charlie, who finished second to Pyro in this year’s renewal, over a “fast” track. The two horses had identical clockings of :48.60, which ranked as the fourth-fastest time of 43 training moves at the distance.
Exercise rider Randi Melton was in the saddle aboard Ketchikan, while jockey Jamie Theriot was up on My Pal Charlie.
Stall said that Ketchikan was being pointed toward an allowance race for 3-year-olds an up as he continues his comeback from a long layoff, while My Pal Charlie – who turned in back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the Arkansas Derby (GII) and Lone Star Derby (GIII) after big effort in the Louisiana Derby – was “possible” for the $175,000-added Northern Dancer Stakes (GIII) on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” program on Saturday, June 14.
A bone bruise suffered while training for the 2007 Arkansas Derby knocked Ketchikan out of consideration for last year’s Kentucky Derby. The son of Mr. Greeley made his anticipated first start since his 2007 Louisiana Derby run in a 6 ½-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 1. Stall‘s horse left the starting gate as the even-money favorite that day, but finished last in a field of six behind the victorious First Regent, who ran the distance in a swift 1:15.83.
Stall was hoping to catch a race at Churchill Downs’ one-turn mile for Ketchikan, but said a 1 1/16-mile race on “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” appeared to be the most likely spot for Ketchikan’s next race. Stall said Ketchikan has trained well since his disappointing return to racing during Kentucky Derby Week and the colt simply needed the race after his long vacation.
“I’m sure he’ll need another race,” said Stall. “He’s very sound – he’s dramatically better than he was as a 3-year-old. But he’d been off 418 days and they ran (a minute and) nine flat (for six furlongs) and :15-and-change (for 6 1/2 furlongs) that day. I had worked him a couple of five-eighths and he wasn’t anywhere near ready for that kind of fire.”
Although Ketchikan didn’t beat a horse that day, Stall was encouraged that he lost by only 5 ¼ lengths and is looking forward to the next step in the colt’s comeback.
“He could have opened up 10 (lengths) on My Pal Charlie today if Randi had let out just a notch,” said Stall. “I’m looking forward to running him and I hope he doesn’t roll craps again, but he should show some more life.”
RACECAR RHAPSODY BREEZES FOR McPEEK, BUT BELMONT IS NOT IN HIS PLANS – Racecar Rhapsody, who rallied to finish fourth behind Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Big Brown in the $1 million Preakness (GI) at Pimlico, breezed five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday – but trainer Ken McPeek said that work should not be interpreted as a sign that he might be considering a rematch with the unbeaten Derby winner in next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (GI).
“It was just a maintenance work, just getting him going,” said McPeek, who won the 2002 Belmont Stakes with Sarava. “We haven’t picked a spot for him.”
The colt is owned by Jerry Carroll, Stan Kaplan, Ronald Plattner and Mark Guilfoyle, and McPeek said he had nominated the 3-year-old son of Tale of the Cat to the $175,000-added Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs on June 14.
Two 3-year-olds stabled at Churchill Downs are expected to take on Big Brown in next week’s Belmont Stakes.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again, the runner-up in the Preakness trained by Dallas Stewart, and Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, third in the Kentucky Derby for trainer David Carroll, are scheduled to ship to New York on Tuesday. Macho Again worked on Friday at Churchill Downs, while Denis of Cork’s final Belmont Stakes work is scheduled for Monday.
BARN TALK – The McPeek-trained Bold Start was scratched on Saturday from the $100,000-added Opening Verse because of concern over his outside post in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Lawrence Carroll’s 4-year-old son of Jump Start has been entered in a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race on the main track on Wednesday, June 4 that has also attracted 2007 Aristides (GIII) runner-up Cougar Cat and graded stakes veteran Forty Grams in its field of six. The 4-year-old Bold Start finished second in the Hutcheson (GII) and third in the Illinois Derby (GIII) on the main track at three. He breezed four furlongs on Saturday in :48.20. … Two-time defending Spring Meet leader Julien Leparoux and Robby Albarado were tied at 30 wins apiece in the battle for leading jockey in the 52-day Spring Meet heading into Saturday’s 26th day of racing. Miguel Mena remained just behind the top pair with 28 wins at the meet’s midpoint. …Ken McPeek continued to lead the trainers race and had a 17-15 edge over Tom Amoss, who had two Friday wins. Steve Asmussen had 14 victories.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Zee Zee, Zayat Stables’ winner of the Edgewood, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 for trainer Bill Mott. … Cradle winner Old Man Buck breezed five furlongs in a sharp :59.20, which tied as the fastest of 28 moves at the distance. … Hirsch Jacobs (GIII) runner-up Silver Edition breezed five furlongs in :59.60 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
2008 SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through Friday, May 30
Jockeys Starts 1-2-3
Julien Leparoux 167 30-30-32
Robby Albarado 117 30-12-16
Miguel Mena 167 28-22-24
Calvin Borel 168 23-25-24
Shaun Bridgmohan 106 22-19-12
Jesus Castanon 131 17-12-12
Jamie Theriot 110 16-15-9
Elvis Trujillo 38 8-6-11
Corey Lanerie 101 7-16-9
Brian Hernandez, Jr. 89 7-15-11
Tracy Hebert 67 7-3-5
John McKee 73 6-12-12
Larry Sterling, Jr. 49 6-6-7
Fernando De La Cruz 70 6-4-6
Ken McPeek 38 17-5-4
Tom Amoss 41 15-6-6
Steve Asmussen 63 14-11-10
Mike Maker 29 8-5-3
Ian Wilkes 23 8-5-3
Dale Romans 63 6-15-11
Greg Foley 42 6-7-6
Eddie Kenneally 31 6-6-7
Wesley Ward 20 6-4-4
Four (4) trainers tied with five (5) wins
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 27 9-3-5
Maggi Moss 15 6-2-3
Zayat Stables, LLC 27 5-6-5
Richard, Elaine & Bert Klein 20 4-4-2
Padua Stables 6 4-1-0
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable 7 4-0-0