KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER SUPER SAVER RETURNS TO TRACK -- WinStar Farm’s Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner Super Saver returned to the track Wednesday morning for a leisurely jog once around the mile oval under exercise rider Kevin Willey.
“He jogged like a Derby winner,” said Mike McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, adding with a laugh, “and I’ve seen plenty of those horses here. I have been here. His energy, attitude and appetite are all good. He might gallop tomorrow. It depends on what Todd wants to do.”
Pletcher is slated to return to Louisville toward the end of the week and McCarthy said the trainer “would be here Saturday for sure.”
Pletcher’s other Preakness probable, Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, galloped a mile and three-eighths after the morning renovation break under Willey.
Also returning to the track for the first time since the Kentucky Derby for the Pletcher barn was Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, who finished ninth.
Mission Impazible jogged a mile under Willey and will be pointed to the $125,000 Northern Dancer (GIII), according to McCarthy. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run on the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) undercard on June 12.
Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado galloped a mile and half after the morning renovation break. Trainer Dale Romans plans to ship the third-place Kentucky Derby finisher to Pimlico next Wednesday and that Kent Desormeaux would retain the mount in the Preakness.
Romans also indicated Donald Dizney’s First Dude could join Paddy O’Prado in Baltimore.
“I may run him, too,” Romans said of First Dude. “I have reserved a spot on the plane for him and if he is doing good, I’d say it’s 90 percent we’d run if he can get in. I would have liked to have run him in the Derby.”
First Dude finished third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 10 in his most recent start and prior to that in his stakes debut finished a troubled fifth in the Florida Derby (GI). In his most recent work, First Dude worked five furlongs over a muddy track in 1:00.80 on April 26, the best of 26 at the distance that morning.
Other Kentucky Derby runners back on the track Wednesday for the first time since the Run for the Roses were the Nick Zito-trained Ice Box (second) and Jackson Bend (12th). The two colts jogged a mile each.
Slated to return to the track Thursday are the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Lookin At Lucky (sixth) and Conveyance (15th), plus the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Dublin (seventh).
McCARTHY RIDING HIGH AFTER GENERAL QUARTERS’ WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC VICTORY – Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy, age 76, was spreading straw in the stall of General Quarters the other morning when a visitor asked if he felt like he was 66 in the wake of the colt’s victory in Saturday’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI).
“Try 36,” McCarthy said with a laugh.
And so it was that the horse that was the feel-good story of the 2009 Kentucky Derby trail, was a feel-good story again in 2010.
After exiting the Preakness with a ninth-place finish and a small chip in his right front knee, General Quarters went on the shelf for more than seven months. McCarthy never doubted that his star would make it back.
“He came through everything so well,” McCarthy said. “We got the chip out and turned him out and gave him time to heal.”
General Quarters returned to the races on Dec. 26, finishing second in a six-furlong sprint. Three more races in at two-turn distances in stakes races on dirt resulted in runner-up finishes before the 4-year-old’s breakthrough grass win on Derby Day.
“I’d like to keep him on the grass if possible,” McCarthy said. “He just seems to be better on grass. I will just wait and see. I haven’t really looked at anything yet, but I know there is a prep for the Arlington Million on July 17 (the Grade III, $200,000 Arlington Handicap at a mile and a quarter).”
The Turf Classic victory was the second Grade I score for General Quarters, who won the 2009 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on the all-weather Polytrack surface
SOLIS SETS DOWN ROOTS IN NEW KENTUCKY HOME – Alex Solis remembers the first time he came to Churchill Downs.
“I was just a baby,” Solis said with a laugh as he recalled the 1983 Kentucky Derby in which he finished 11th on Current Hope. “There are a lot of good memories here.”
A 19-year-old then, Solis, now 46, has moved to Kentucky from Southern California to rejuvenate his career. He picked up two winners during the closing week of the Keeneland meet last month and now he is working the backside with agent Brian Beach at Churchill Downs where his biggest win at the track was in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) with Kona Gold.
Solis, who has bought a house in St. Matthews, has 4,775 career victories and is a finalist for the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. Results of the voting will be announced May 28. He has recorded seven stakes victories at Churchill Downs.
Before that, the quest for 5,000 victories resumes Thursday when Solis is named on two mounts. When the Churchill Downs meet ends July 4, Solis will likely head to New York.
“We will probably go to Saratoga for the summer and then come back here in the fall for Keeneland and Churchill Downs and then the Fair Grounds of Florida for the winter,” Beach said.
A winter in Florida would be a homecoming of sorts for Solis.
“That is where I started out when I came to this country,” Solis said. “I rode down there for three years and was leading rider at all three tracks (Gulfstream Park, Calder and Hialeah) before going to Southern California in 1985.”
Solis is not the only veteran Southern California jockey to relocate to Kentucky.
Corey Nakatani, 39, headed east early this year and rode at Oaklawn Park, where he finished as second-leading rider with 49 wins. Nakatani, who has purchased a house in Lake Forest, rode sparingly at Keeneland after the Oaklawn Park meet ended and now he is part of the Churchill Downs colony.
Nakatani has won 10 stakes beneath the Twin Spires, including Kentucky Oaks (GI) victories aboard Lite Light (1991) and Pike Place Dancer (1996) and in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) in 1998 with Reraise and 2006 with Thor’s Echo.
Nakatani plans to go to Saratoga at the end of the current ment.
BARN TALK – Nominations close Saturday for the 73rd running of the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII) to be run at 1 ½ miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 22. Fred Bradley’s Brass Hat won the 2009 running of the race and is pointing to this year’s renewal. … There is a $947,641 Pick-Six carryover that will cover races five through 10 on Thursday’s card. First post time Thursday is 12:45 p.m. with scheduled post time for the start of the Pick 6 at 2:53 p.m. Also, in the 10th race, there is a $147,055 Super Hi-5 carryover in which patrons must select the first five finishers in the race in order.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – David Holloway’s Dubious Miss, winner of the Ben Ali (GIII) at Keeneland in his most recent start, worked five furlongs in 1:04.80 for trainer Paul McGee.