SUPER SAVER MAKES TWO-TURN DEBUT IN KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB – The field for Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade II) is now assembled at Churchill Downs, with WinStar Farm’s Super Saver being the last to arrive.
Michael Dilger, who oversees trainer Todd Pletcher’s string at Churchill Downs, hopes the Belmont Park shipper can be the first to finish in Saturday’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” co-feature and add a bright ending to a frustrating Fall Meet.
“I’d like to leave here with more than two wins,” Dilger said of a meet that also has featured seven runner-up finishes from 28 starters. “Five would be real nice.”
Super Saver arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday. It was Dilger’s first time working with Super Saver.
“He didn’t make the Delaware Park cut,” Dilger said with a laugh referring to where he kept a Pletcher string this summer and fall. “This will get him a chance to go two turns and he’s by Maria’s Mon and he’s already had a (Kentucky) Derby winner (Monarchos in 2001).”
Calvin Borel, who rode John C. Oxley’s Beethoven to victory in last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club, has the mount on Super Saver on Saturday. Super Saver is listed as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
Super Saver, fourth in his stakes debut in the Champagne (GI) at Belmont Park on Oct. 10, is not the only promising 2-year-old under Dilger’s care in Pletcher’s Churchill Downs barn. One of those is Rule, a homebred son of Roman Ruler also owned by WinStar. While the rest of the barn begins to ship to Florida early next week, Dilger will remain at Churchill Downs with Rule.
“He’s going to the Delta Jackpot (GIII), the $750,000 race at Delta Downs next Friday,” Dilger said. “I will stay here with the one horse until Wednesday. He’ll train that morning and then leave about 8 a.m. for Louisiana.”
Rule won the ungraded Jean Lafitte by nine lengths on Nov. 6 at Delta Downs in track-record time of 1:37.45 for the mile. He has a career record of 2-1-1 in four races.
In addition to Super Saver, the Pletcher barn has four other juveniles entered in races on Saturday’s racing card.
Dilger said on Friday morning that Team Valor International’s Unbridled Belle came out of her third-place finish in Thursday’s Falls City Handicap (GII) in good order. The Falls City was the final race for the Grade I-winning daughter of Broken Vow. “She left this morning for Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm, which was a little ironic,” Dilger said. John Sikura, who is president of Hill ‘N” Dale, is co-owner of Falls City winner Serenading.
UPPERLINE READY FOR TEST RUN AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Upperline could have stayed in Louisiana to make her initial start on a dirt after launching her career with three outings on Polytrack. Instead, she traveled to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s 66th running of the Golden Rod Stakes (GII).
“There is not a lot for 2-year-old fillies down there right now,” said Joe Sharp, assistant to trainer and part owner Mike Stidham.
But what about the $500,000 Delta Princess (GIII) next Friday at Delta Downs?
“She was nominated here and, based on her works at the Fair Grounds and the way she handled the dirt, we came here,” Sharp said of Upperline, who turned in a trio of solid works on Fair Grounds’ dirt course. “If it turns out she handles the dirt fine here and runs well, you will know where you are when you come in next spring.”
Upperline, whose ownership team also includes Stone Farm, John Adger and Oak Crest Farm, debuted at Arlington Park with a victory at seven furlongs. She came back in August to run second in Arlington’s Top Flight to She Be Wild, who went on to win the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Santa Anita.
Stidham, who is scheduled to be here Saturday, took Upperline to Keeneland from Chicago and the daughter of Maria’s Mon scored a two-turn allowance win as the favorite defeating Golden Rod rival Vivid Colors.
E.T. Baird, who was aboard for the Keeneland victory, has the mount Saturday.
THANKSGIVING WINNER MOON TOWN BOUND FOR MALIBU AT SANTA ANITA – Thanksgiving Day turned out to be a banner day for the Melnyk Racing Stable of Eugene Melnyk and trainer Ken McPeek as they combined to send out two eye-catching winners in the 2-year-old Carrington Village and 3-year-old Moon Town.
“Moon Town is headed to the Malibu,” said Billy Wright, assistant to McPeek on Friday morning in reference to the $300,000 Grade I race for 3-year-olds over Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface on Dec. 26. “He is flying out Tuesday morning along with Dream Empress, Best Lass and Indianapolis.”
The 3-year-old, an easy winner in one-mile allowance race on turf, will be one of 13 horses that McPeek will have in training in Southern California.
Moon Town, a homebred son of Speightstown, had posted two impressive victories over the Polytrack at Keeneland prior to Thursday’s win in the 10th race.
“The only time he had been on grass before yesterday was in the pasture,” Wright said. “We expected him to be on the lead yesterday, but a bunch of them went out there and Kent (Desormeaux) just waited and kept him in the clear.”
Moon Town won by 5 ¼ lengths in an effort that was nearly a carbon copy of the debut of Carrington Village, another Melnyk homebred, under Desormeaux two races earlier on the holiday card.
Carrington Village, a gelded son of El Corredor, broke last in the field of 12 and was 22 lengths off the lead at the first call of the race. He was still next to last with a quarter-mile to go in the six-furlong test, but Carrington Village shot by the field to win by a comfortable 3 ¼ lengths.
“We have no plan yet for him,” Wright said. “We will look at him today. Maybe he will go to Gulfstream Park with me.”
The two victories allowed McPeek to reach a Churchill Downs milestone. With Moon Town’s score, McPeek reached 250 victories at the track. He is the 18th trainer to have reached that level.
BARN TALK – Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner and “Horse of the Year” contender Rachel Alexandra left Churchill Downs at 5:30 on Friday morning headed to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans according to Scott Blasi, assistant to leading trainer Steve Asmussen. Undefeated in eight starts in 2009, Rachel Alexandra returned to light training on Monday after having seven weeks off after returning from Saratoga where she defeated older males in the Woodward (GI) in her most recent start on Sept. 5.
Joseph Sutton’s Warbling, who overcame a bad start to improve her record to 2-for-2 on Thursday with a head victory, proved she can handle dirt as well as Polytrack. “She lost her footing coming out of the gate sideways,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said of Warbling, a 3-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song who won her debut by 7 ½ lengths at Keeneland on Oct. 30. “She’ll go to Florida and you’ll probably see her go in a stake soon. She’s a nice filly.”
It has been said that “good things come to those who wait,” and the adage was never more true than Thursday when Walking the Beach won the 12th race in his debut by 1 ½ lengths. “That was kind of the reason we stayed here, to run him and Indygo Mountain,” said Dennis “Peaches” Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun. “We thought he was pretty special the whole time and he ran like we thought he would.” Cobra Cooper Racing (Ted Cooper) owns Walking the Beach, a son of Medaglia d’Oro for whom he paid $325,000. “The owner is a great guy and he usually buys one horse a year for $200,000 or $300,000,” Geier said. “He hasn’t had a lot of luck, but I told him yesterday that he’d be getting a lot of calls (about selling the colt) and he said not to worry, he’s not selling.” Walking the Beach will spend the winter in New Orleans at the Fair Grounds along with Indygo Mountain, who was scheduled to make his return to the races from a February injury in Friday’s 10th race. “He acts like he’s ready,” Geier said.
Julian Leparoux concluded his stay at Churchill Downs for the Fall Meet with three victories Thursday, including a win aboard Serenading in the Falls City Handicap (GII). Leparoux, who will be riding this weekend in the Japan Cup in Tokyo, completed the meet with 27 victories and increased his career total at the track to 405. His Thanksgiving Day performance moved his past Earlie Fires (403) and into 14th place all time beneath the Twin Spires. Calvin Borel rode one winner to boost his meet total to 23. Borel is named on nine mounts Friday and 12 on Saturday,
Borel is looking for a fast finish to allow him to claim his third Churchill Downs riding crown after a pair of previous Fall Meet championships. Should Leparoux hang on to his lead despite missing 24 races on Friday and Saturday, he would increase his collection of riding crowns at the home of the Kentucky Derby to six. He has earned two consecutive Fall Meet titles and three of the past four Spring Meet titles.
WORK TAB – Tom McCarthy’s Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner General Quarters, gearing up for a 4-year-old campaign after missing the last half of 2009 recovering from injury, worked five furlongs in 1:04.80 over a fast track. General Quarters finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby (GI) and ninth in the Preakness (GI).