BULLARDS ALLEY LOOKS FOR BACK-TO-BACK VICTORIES IN LOUISVILLE HANDICAP
Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins’ Bullards Alley will attempt to become a repeat winner of Saturday’s $100,000 Louisville Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs when he faces 11 rivals in the 1 ½-mile marathon over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“He’s doing great,” trainer Tim Glyshaw said. “He’s been a bit of a puzzle to start the year. He’s come up short in a couple of races but we know how much he loves the turf course at Churchill.”
The now 5-year-old Bullards Alley has racked up $407,048 in earnings including five wins, three seconds and five thirds in 29 starts. The gelding by Flower Alley was a disappointing sixth in the April 22 Elkorn (GII) at Keeneland in his last start.
“The Elkhorn was frustrating,” Glyshaw said. “Marcelino (Pedroza) said he was done going into the first turn. It was weird because he typically likes the soft turf. If it rains on Saturday I still don’t think it will be a problem for him because he’s been proven over the soft going at Churchill.
“So far, this year hasn’t started out the way we wanted it to. If he can run to his form from last year, we could have a fun second half of the year campaign with him. This race came up very tough but it will be the true test if we can win it again.”
Bullards Alley’s rivals include his younger full brother Nessy.
“It’s a cool situation to run against his brother in this race,” Glyshaw said. “You don’t really get this situation very often. It would be great if they can both be competitive.”
The second of two stakes on Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs, the Louisville Handicap will go as Race 11 with an approximate post time of 5:51 p.m. (all times Eastern). The Matron (GIII) is Race 10 with a post time of 5:21 p.m.
The Louisville Handicap field from the rail out (with jockeys, assigned weight and morning line odds): Generous Kitten (Miguel Mena, 115 pounds, 8-1); Grey Wizard (David Flores, 113, 20-1); Nessy (Brian Hernandez Jr., 111, 20-1); Some In Tieme (BRZ) (Manny Cruz, 116, 10-1); Kaigun (Edgard Zayas, 118, 5-1); Twilight Eclipse (James Graham, 120, 5-1); Reporting Star (Joe Rocco Jr., 118, 6-1); Street Fashion (Chris Landeros, 115, 10-1); Danish Dynaformer (Gabriel Saez, 119, 4-1); Patrick’s Day (Declan Cannon, 114, 12-1); Bullards Alley (Pedroza, 116, 8-1); Gold Shield (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115, 15-1).
TIGER MOTH ATTEMPTS TO BREAK THROUGH IN MATRON – John Gunther’s homebred Tiger Moth has been knocking at the door in her last few starts but will be seeking her first stakes win in Saturday’s Matron (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
“I really like the way she’s been training,” trainer Brad Cox said. “It’s a tough Grade III but I think my horse has a good shot if we can get some pace up front.”
Tiger Moth is known for her closing kick, which was displayed two starts ago when third beaten 1 ½ lengths by Streamline in the Azeri (GII) at Oaklawn Park.
“She’s a horse that you have to encourage a bit since she closes from far back,” Cox said. “I typically haven’t ridden (Gabriel) Saez but he’s the type of jock that will fit her well.”
Cox and Saez have teamed up for 15 starts with a record of 3-5-3.
The 1 1/16-mile Matron for fillies and mares will be staged for the 80th time, but this will mark the first renewal of the race at Churchill Downs. Previously at Arlington Park, the Louisville track’s Churchill Downs Incorporated sister track in Arlington Heights, Ill., the Matron would have gone on hiatus in 2017 if Churchill Downs Racetrack didn’t step up to host the important Midwest race for fillies and mares.
The complete Matron field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Weep No More (Joe Rocco Jr., 4-1), Shes a True Beauty (Shaun Bridgmohan, 20-1), Lots o’ Lex (Jesus Castanon, 30-1), Tiger Moth (Gabriel Saez, 10-1), Lady Fog Horn (Albin Jimenez, 8-1), Belle Hill (Chris Landeros, 15-1), Curlin’s Approval (Edgard Zayas, 8-5), Divine Elegance (Miguel Mena, 12-1), Naylor (Malcolm Franklin, 20-1), Improv (James Graham, 10-1), Walkabout (Brian Hernandez Jr., 10-1), Miss Mo Kelly (David Flores, 20-1) and Crooked Stick (Sophie Doyle, 20-1).
All entrants will carry 122 pounds except for Curlin’s Approval, who will tote 126.
WORK TAB – Trainer Mark Casse was prominent on Thursday’s work tab at Churchill Downs with 10 horses recording half-mile breezes. Stakes winner Monster Bea and impressive maiden winner Wicked Macho recorded the fastest of 43 works in :47.80. Casse also breezed Edgewood (Grade III) runner-up Dream Dancing and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII) fourth-place finisher Mississippi Delta in :48. The complete Churchill Downs work tab is available here: churchilldowns.com/horsemen/racing/workouts.
ADVANCE WAGERING FOR PREAKNESS AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY – Advance wagering on Saturday’s 142nd Preakness Stakes (Grade I) at Pimlico Race Course near Baltimore will be offered all day Friday at Churchill Downs.
Admission gates open Friday at 11:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) and the first of nine races is 12:45 p.m. General admission is $3.
Friday’s feature race at Pimlico is the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles. It goes as Race 11 at approximately 4:50 p.m. Similar to the Oaks/Derby Double, Pimlico will offer the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness double, which requires bettors to pick the winners of both races.
The pageantry of the Preakness will be featured prominently at Churchill Downs on Saturday with the simulcast of the 1 3/16-mile race scheduled for 6:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) – which comes after the final live race at 5:51 p.m. Video and audio of the races from Pimlico will be shown on select television monitors throughout the facility, and between races on the massive Big Board when they don’t conflict with live action.
Churchill Downs admission gates will open Saturday at 11:15 a.m. and the first of 11 live races is 12:45 p.m. General Admission is $5, reserved seating is $10 and reserved dining packages are $47. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets. Guests at Churchill Downs will have an opportunity to enjoy a taste of the Preakness with The Black-Eyed Susan, the event’s official drink that will be available at locations throughout the track (complete with commemorative glass). Also, Levy Restaurants plans to sell Crab Cake Sandwiches on the second floor of the Clubhouse.
Last call for drinks will be “Call to the Post” for the Preakness, and all dining rooms will remain open through the big race.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Twilight Thursday will kick off the racing week with a post time of 5 p.m. The 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot has a carryover of $16,641 and covers Races 3-8 starting at 5:58 p.m. … Through nine days of the 38-day Spring Meet, 12-time Churchill Downs leading rider Corey Lanerie holds a 19-11 lead over Brian Hernandez Jr. in the jockey Standings. Florent Geroux is in third with 10 wins and Julien Leparoux and Ricardo Santana Jr. are tied for fourth with eight victories each. … Only two wins away from 600 lifetime victories at Churchill Downs, Steve Asmussen leads the trainer standings with seven wins. There is a four-way tie for second between J.R. Caldwell, Brad Cox, Greg Foley and Ian Wilkes with five wins each. … Asmussen also holds the top spot in the owner standings with three victories. There is a six-way tie for second with John Oxley, Juddmonte Farms, Keene Thoroughbreds, Kirk and Judy Robison, Midwest Thoroughbreds and Whitham Thoroughbreds, all with two victories each. … Friday is Senior Day at Churchill Downs where guests 60 and up can enjoy lunch and a day at the races in Millionaires Row for only $24. … Sunday features a Stakes & Eggs brunch in the Stakes Room for $45 ($22 for children).