(November 19, 2008) – Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song will face 10 rivals Saturday as he shoots for consecutive victories in the $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III) to be run at a mile and one-eighth over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Trained by Dale Romans, Thorn Song will have to overcome the outside No. 11 post position if he is to join Same Old Wish (1996-97) and Dr. Kashnikow (2001-02) as a repeat winner of the River City. Thorn Song will be ridden by Robby Albarado and carry high weight of 122 pounds, conceding three-to-nine pounds to his rivals.
Winner of the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in October as well as the Grade II Firecracker Handicap over the Matt Winn Turf Course in July, Thorn Song enters the River City off a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Santa Anita.
Two other River City starters have stakes victories in 2008, although none is of the graded variety.
Oxbow Racing’s Steve Double, trained by Ronny Werner, has won the Remington Green at Remington Park and the Unbridled Handicap at Louisiana Downs in his two most recent starts and ran third to Thorn Song in the Firecracker. Steve’s Double will be ridden by Jamie Theriot and carry 117 pounds.
Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation took the Franklin-Simpson at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 15 for trainer Paul McGee. Jesus Castanon will ride Demarcation, who carries 117 pounds.
The field for the 32nd running of the River City (Race 9 at approximately 4:37 p.m. ET), from the hedge out: Yate’s Black Cat (Miguel Mena, 119 pounds), Mr. Sidney (John Velazquez, 113), Star Plus (ARG) (Kent Desormeaux, 116), Pleasant Strike (Chris DeCarlo, 115), Karelian (Calvin Borel, 119), Just As Well (E.T. Baird, 113), Telling (Shaun Bridgmohan, 117), Demarcation (Jesus Castanon, 117), Canela (Julien Leparoux, 115), Steve’s Double (Jamie Theriot, 117) and Thorn Song (Robby Albarado, 122).
Also on Saturday’s card will be the $56,000-added Bet On Sunshine (Race 8 at approximately 4:06 p.m. ET), an overnight handicap at six furlongs on the main track that drew a field of eight sprinters.
High weights Kelly’s Landing (123 pounds under Julien Leparoux) and the undefeated Euroears (120 pounds with Miguel Mena up), will start side by side, breaking from post positions two and three, respectively.
Kelly’s Landing, owned by Summerplace Farm, won the 2005 Aristides (GIII) here and also took the 2007 Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI). He returned to the races on Oct. 17 after a 4 ½-month layoff to win a six-furlong allowance sprint at Keeneland in his most recent start for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Euroears, owned by Marilyn and James Helzer, has won all six of his career starts for trainer Bret Calhoun. Euroears, who suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture of his right hind leg in late March, has not raced since winning the Duncan Kenner Stakes on March 8 at Fair Grounds.
The field for the Bet On Sunshine, from the rail out: Native Ruler (Jamie Theriot, 116 pounds), Kelly’s Landing (Julien Leparoux, 123), Euroears (Miguel Mena, 120), Godolphin Gray (Aldo Canchano, 110), Success Success (Jesus Castanon, 116), Junior College (Hector Rosario Jr., 117), High Expectations (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118) and Vicarian (Calvin Borel, 116).
First post for Saturday’s 10-race card is 12:40 p.m. ET. The first 5,000 paid and pre-paid admissions will receive a free collectable hurricane glass, courtesy of Kentucky Derby Party, that salutes Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Also, Churchill Downs will offer free general admission Nov. 21-23 to all patrons who donate two non-perishable canned goods at Gates 10 and 17 in conjunction with the Kentucky Harvest Thanksgiving Food Drive, sponsored by Forcht Bank.
Grandstand gates open Saturday at 11 a.m.
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