READY’S ROCKET ENTERS EXCLUSIVE TERRITORY WITH CHURCHILL DOWNS VICTORY – Lost in all the hoopla of Blame’s thrilling Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) victory and the tour de force of Rachel Alexandra in the Fleur de Lis (GII) on Saturday was the triumph in the day’s first race by Ready’s Rocket.
The victory in the $10,000 starter allowance test was the eighth at Churchill Downs for the 7-year-old Ready’s Rocket, making him the seventh horse to achieve that many victories beneath the Twin Spires since 1976, which is the first year detailed information was gathered by Equibase.
No horse has won nine races here and trainer Tim Glyshaw is hoping Ready’s Rocket, now owned by Tampa Metro Stable, will get the chance.
There are a couple of starter races before the end of the meet,” Glyshaw said. “He is still eligible for a non-winners of two other/than, but that is going five furlongs on the turf. He is bred for the turf, but he is 0-for-3 on it. I will check with Calvin and see if he thinks he can do it, but I don’t really want to change anything.”
Calvin” is jockey Calvin Borel, who has ridden Ready’s Rocket to seven of his eight Churchill Downs victories.
"He obviously loves the surface here (with a record of 19-8-2-2), but the biggest difference between here and other tracks is he responds to Calvin for whatever reason,” said Glyshaw, who has saddled Ready’s Rocket to 11 of his 15 career victories.
Ready’s Rocket has won his past five starts at Churchill Downs, and is the only three-time winner of the 30-day-old meet. He returned the Glyshaw barn after a brief sojourn to Penn National.
“After he ran at Keeneland last fall, the owners wanted to run at Penn National because of the bigger pots,” Glyshaw said. “The opportunity arose to claim him back when he was in for $4,000 and we did and that race made him starter eligible again.”
Back in Kentucky after three off-the-board efforts in Pennsylvania, Ready’s Rocket was jogged on a farm until the Glyshaw stable returned from New Orleans. Glyshaw was not sure what he had when the current meet started.
“I was a little worried when he worked in 1:04 and 3 at the end of April,” Glyshaw said. “But Calvin said he was the same horse. He said those boys at Penn National just didn’t know how to ride him.”
At age seven, Ready’s Rocket “has his quirks,” Glyshaw said. “He is not overly friendly or a ‘lovey-dovey’ type. But he usually comes back and doesn’t pout after he gets beat.”
The most distinguished member of the eight-win club is Bet On Sunshine, who ran here from 1995-2002 and at age nine in 2001 won the Aristides (GIII) to become the oldest graded-stakes winner in track history
Other eight-time winners at Churchill Downs and the years they raced here are Canela (2005-08), Ahenium (1991-94), Crown Lease (1991-95), Lord Rusty (1993-2000) and Maxxed (1995-98). Canela is still in training and ran second on Sunday in a $4,000 claiming race at River Downs for trainer Joe Woodard.
DEBUTANTE ATTRACTS 18 NOMINATIONS – William Dorminy’s Internet Café and Butterfly Stable’s Iones Folly, who finished a nose apart in a May 31 allowance race here, head a list of 18 nominations to the 110th running of the $100,000-added Debutante Stakes (GIII) for 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs to be run June 26.
Internet Café is trained by John Hancock, who could have a second Debutante entrant in Bach Hamilton, a three-length maiden winner here on May 30. Bach Hamilton is owned by Dorminy.
One other intriguing nominee is Eldon Farm Equine’s Just Louise, a 3 ½-length debut maiden winner here on May 28. Just Louise is a half-sister to Sara Louise, winner of the Pocahontas (GIII) here in the fall of 2008 and runner-up to Rachel Alexandra in the 2008 Golden Rod (GII).
Other fillies under consideration for the race according to Churchill Downs officials are Gatewood Bell and Wesley Ward’s Nina Fever, a maiden winner at Keeneland who ran fifth against the boys in the Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) on April 30, and Perry Harrison’s Tater Taunter, a maiden winner here at first asking on June
Decelerator won last year’s Debutante to give trainer D. Wayne Lukas a record seventh victory in the race.
Silverbulletday in 1998 is the most recent Debutante winner to return the following spring to win the Kentucky Oaks (GI). Rachel Alexandra ran was the Debutante runner-up in 2008.
Entries for the Debutante will be taken Wednesday.
BARN TALK – Nominations close Saturday for the final three stakes of the Spring Meet scheduled to be run July 3 and 4. Scheduled for July 3 are the 109th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds going six furlongs and the 29th running of the $100,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares going a mile on the turf. Backtalk won the Bashford Manor last year and Closeout took the Locust Grove. The 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course is the closing day feature on July 4. Mr. Sidney won the 2009 Firecracker.
WORK TAB – Cash Refund, third in the Aristides (GIII) in his most recent start, worked five furlongs on the main track in :59, the fastest of 11 works at the distance. … Also working five furlongs was Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) winner Lou Brissie in 1:01, fourth fastest at the distance, in preparation for the Bashford Manor. …Works of note over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course (dogs up) were 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly (half-mile in :53.20), multiple stakes winner Chamberlain Bridge (half-mile in :50.40) and Driving Snow, prepping for the Firecracker, worked five furlongs in 1:05.60.