Black Hawk Stables’ Alsvid will try to secure his second consecutive triumph in the $100,000 Aristides (Grade III) on Saturday at Churchill Downs when he takes on a half-dozen others in the six-furlong event run on the main track. Should he be successful, he would join 2000-01 Aristides victor Bet On Sunshine as the only other horse with dual victories in 28 running of the race.
The 7-year-old son of Officer was last seen finishing second beaten two lengths by Rocket Heat in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Alsvid has not made a trip to the winner’s circle since his victory in last year’s edition of the Aristides.
“He’s coming into the race great,” trainer Chris Hartman said. “He’s definitely still got it. We just need to find the winner’s circle and see if he remembers how to get there. We’ll find out Saturday.”
Hartman previously considered sending the horse to Pimlico to run on the Preakness Stakes undercard in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint or the Maryland Sprint (GIII) run on the main track.
"I’d rather just run him out of his stall,” Hartman said “It’s so much easier for him and me. He’ll run on either surface but he likes the main track here. He gets over the surface really smooth.”
Alsvid tends to keep himself calm around the barn.
“I sort of forget he’s here, he’s so easy,” Hartman said. “You never know he’s here. He’s quiet everywhere until you turn him around and start working him. He knows when it’s game time and he’s a very smart horse. He loves his job so that’s helps a bunch, too. He enjoys what he does.”
Alsvid has not finished off the board since a well-beaten 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Keeneland in November. In seven starts since the Breeders’ Cup, he boasts three seconds and four third-place efforts. At age 7, Hartman believes that he still has plenty left in the tank to compete for a couple of more years.
“I don’t see any reason why he can’t, he has no stop signs,” Hartman said.
Chris Landeros, who guided Alsvid to his Aristides victory last year, will return to the saddle.
The Aristides field from rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): Toews On Ice (Channing Hill, 8-1), Barbados (Joe Rocco Jr., 8-1), Limousine Liberal (Corey Lanerie, 7-5), Union Jackson (Ricardo Santana Jr., 3-1), Alsvid (Chris Landeros, 3-1), Grande Basin (Miguel Mena, 15-1) and Schivarelli (Robby Albarado, 12-1).
SPEEDY RAY’SWARRIOR MAKES TURF DEBUT IN SATURDAY’S MIGHTY BEAU – Joann and Alex Lieblong’s Ray’swarrior will attempt his third consecutive win when he races on the grass for the first time in Saturday’s $67,000-added Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes run at distance of five furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The son of Majestic Warrior set swift fractions of :21.60 and :44.40 in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming event on May 3 last time out, winning by a nose over late-charging Great Stuff.
“That’s why we chose this race – it’s five furlongs as opposed to six,” trainer Steve Hobby said. “At five furlongs he would have won much easier that day. Of course this time we’ll catch some horses with a little more speed. There are so many five or five-and-a-half furlong turf races around the country and almost no dirt stakes at this distance so we wanted to try the turf to see if that’s something he can do. There’s so many shorter races on the turf.”
The National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for an 80-percent chance of showers on Saturday.
“I was just looking at it, and they’re saying hopefully Saturday night,” Hobby said. “So maybe we’ll get lucky. I hope we get to run on the turf because I want to try it. Obviously the advantage goes his way if it doesn’t stay on the turf because he’s already proven himself on dirt, but I’d like to try it out.”
Hobby previously considered running Ray’swarrior on the turf at Keeneland during their Spring Meet.
“We had him in at Keeneland on the turf, but the owner said, ‘Man he ran so well at Oaklawn, I’d hate to switch surfaces,’ so we scratched and ran here Derby week.”
Ray’swarrior will break from post 2 in the Mighty Beau.
"With an inside post and a lot of speed in the race, we are going to have to go,” Hobby said. “I don’t think he has to really have the lead, he’s just naturally fast. With the horses he was running with he was just faster. He relaxes really well on his own, he’s never been a problem.”
Chris Landeros, the pilot aboard his last two victories, has the mount.
The Mighty Beau field (with jockeys and morning line odds): Rivers Run Deep (Albin Jimenez, 5-1); Ray’swarrior (Chris Landeros, 5-1); Billy Two Hats (Jesus Castanon, 6-1); Wilbo (Ricardo Santana Jr., 6-1); Latent Revenge (Francisco Torres, 10-1); Bucchero (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., 10-1); Made Bail (Jack Gilligan, 30-1); Tiger Tank (Corey Lanerie, 10-1); Shadow Rock (Miguel Mena, 8-1); Hogy (Joe Rocco Jr., 7-2); and Bottle Rocket (Brian Hernandez Jr., 20-1).
STEWART-TRAINED PAIR POSSIBLE FOR BELMONT STAKES – Trainer Dallas Stewart is considering the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) for recent maiden victors Seeking the Soul and Forever d’Oro, both owned by Charles Fipke.
“I don’t know where we’re at right now,” Stewart said. “It’s just something that we’re giving some thought. It’s the Belmont so it’s going to be a tough race but these are two really nice colts that we’ve thought highly of all spring and have had to take our time with, so we’re just kicking around the idea.”
A son of Perfect Soul, Seeking the Soul broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on May 29, while stable mate Forever d’Oro, a half-brother to Grade I winners Unbridled Forever and Forever Unbridled, secured his first trip to the winner’s circle at Belmont Park on the same day.
“Seeking the Soul ran so fast the other day and we think he’s a quality horse,” Stewart said “The other horse (Forever d’Oro) broke his maiden at Belmont, looked great doing it and has a great pedigree. They’re both nice horses.”
DOWN THE STRETCH – Monday was the halfway point of the 38-day Spring Meet. Julien Leparoux leads the jockeys in races won with 30, two more than Corey Lanerie. Mark Casse has a 15-12 advantage over Mike Maker in the trainer standings. Ken and Sarah Ramsey lead the owners with eight wins, two more than John Oxley. … The field for the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) on Saturday, June 11 is beginning to take shape. Known probables for the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares on the Matt Winn Turf Course, according to Churchill Downs stakes coordinator Dan Bork: Cash Control, Flying Tipat, Lady Foghorn, Kiss Moon and Zipessa. … The “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” returns Sunday. Interested participants can enter for $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members) for a chance to win the $1,000 cash voucher first prize by placing mythical $2 win and place bets on Races 3-8. Second place receives a $500 voucher and third place is worth a $200 voucher. Registration takes place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the Clubhouse second floor at the top of the Gate 17 escalators. … “Inside Churchill Downs,” co-hosted by Churchill Downs Racetrack’s John Asher and Darren Rogers, airs every Saturday from 10-11 a.m. throughout the Spring Meet on ESPN 680/105.7. This week’s guests include Ben Colebrook, the trainer of Limousine Liberal.