The 2019 racing season at Churchill Downs is entering the final stretch and several local jockeys and trainers have firmed up their winter plans with many staying in Kentucky the month of December to run at Turfway Park.
“It’s very exciting with the enhanced purses at Turfway,” trainer Mike Maker said. “It should make for some very good racing up there.”
Maker, who is a mainstay at the Florence, Ky. oval, will have some additional competition as he attempts to defend his 2018 Holiday Meet title. Trainers like Steve Asmussen, Cipriano Contreras and Dale Romans all plan to leave horses in Kentucky to run this winter at Turfway.
Romans, Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer, plans to split his string of horses between Gulfstream Park and Turfway.
Several jockeys who plan to winter at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. plan to stay in Kentucky to ride at Turfway until their meet opens on Friday, Jan. 24, including Declan Cannon, Martin Garcia and Joe Rocco Jr.
“It should be some good racing at Turfway in December,” said Cannon, who won two races Wednesday at Churchill Downs. “Winning races at the end of the meet should hopefully help keep my name out there and business will be good in December.”
Current Churchill Downs leading rider Corey Lanerie will head to New Orleans after the meet ends on Sunday to ride at Fair Grounds. Lanerie will be joined in New Orleans with Florent Geroux, James Graham, Brian Hernandez Jr., Miguel Mena and Gabriel Saez.
Jockeys Calvin Borel, Jon Court and Ricardo Santana Jr., will head to Oaklawn Park for their meet. Cannon, Garcia and Rocco are likely to join them following Turfway’s Holiday Meet.
Tyler Gaffalione, Chris Landeros and Julien Leparoux will ride this winter at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Brad Cox will defend his Fair Grounds training title. His string of horses will be split between Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Aqueduct. Other trainers headed to Fair Grounds include Tom Amoss, Asmussen, Bret Calhoun, Chris Hartman and Joe Sharp.
Trainer Tim Glyshaw, who previously stabled at Fair Grounds, will ship his string of horses to Tampa Bay Downs.
BIG MONEY, BIG FIELDS FOR SATURDAY’S STARS OF TOMORROW II – Future stars will be in the spotlight on Saturday’s Stars of Tomorrow II program at Churchill Downs where all 12 races will feature 2-year-olds with 170 horses entered in the program with purses topping $1.5 million.
Churchill Downs’ Stars of Tomorrow programs have helped launch the careers of more than 50 future Grade I winners including: Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver; Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner; 2011 Preakness and 2012 Met Mile and Clark winner Shackleford and Kentucky Oaks winners Rachel Alexandra, Believe You Can and Monomoy Girl.
Saturday’s card features an average field size of 11.2 horses with 134 horses entered in the body of the race and 36 also-eligible entrants. Purses on the program total a whopping $1.558 million with an average of nearly $130,000 per race. The featured events on the program are the $300,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) (Race 11) and $300,000 Golden Rod (GII) (Race 9). Both races will award 10 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
Last year, horses that competed in the Stars of Tomorrow II program included $1.5 million Preakness Stakes Grade I) winner War of Will (winner of 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight); $1 million Louisiana Derby (GI) victor By My Standards (runner-up in 6 ½ furlong maiden special weight); multiple stakes winner Meadow Dance (runner-up in one-mile first-level allowance); and $125,000 Jefferson Cup hero Spectacular Gem (third in 6 ½ furlong first-level allowance).
On Saturday’s card, the highest-priced auction buy is $850,000 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase Fight Fight Fight, who will break from the rail in Race 12, a one-mile maiden special weight.
Trainer Steve Asmussen entered 15 horses on Saturday’s program led by 7-5 morning line favorite Finite in the Golden Rod.
One of the more difficult races for handicappers to tackle could be Race 8, a six-furlong maiden special weight where 11 of 12 horses entered will be making their debut.
First post Saturday is 1 p.m. The Kentucky Jockey Club has a post time of 5:56 p.m. and the Golden Rod has a scheduled post of 4:57 p.m.
INDEPENDENCE HALL, TIZ THE LAW INDIVIDUAL 11-1 FAVORITES AFTER DAY 1 OF KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen and Robert Verratti’s $150,000 Nashua Stakes (Grade III) winner Independence Hall and Sackatoga Stables’ $500,000 Champagne (GI) winner Tiz the Law are the individual co-favorites at 11-1 after one day of wagering in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager with “All Other 3-Year-Olds” holding overall favoritism at 7-5.
Other horses taking early interest in the Future Wager are Godolphin’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner Maxfield (12-1); Albaugh Family Stable’s $200,000 Iroquois Stakes (GIII) hero Dennis’ Moment (12-1); and Team Valor International and WinStar Farm’s Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Gouverneur Morris (18-1).
The Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager saw offspring of Constitution holding early favoritism at 5-1 with “All Other Sires” the second choice at 6-1.
To wager on the Kentucky Derby Future wager and Sire Future Wager, which closes Sunday at 6 p.m., visit www.twinpsires.com
For more information on the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, visit www.kentuckyderby.com.
FREE BRISNET PAST PERFORMANCES FOR WEEKEND STAKES – Brisnet.com will help the holiday handicapping with free past performances for each of Churchill Downs’ graded stakes on the closing Thanksgiving weekend.
CHURCHILL DOWNS, FAIR GROUNDS TO OFFER ‘FLEUR DE LIS’ PICK 4 SATURDAY – For the second consecutive year, Churchill Downs Racetrack and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will team to offer horseplayers a cross-track Pick 4 on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Billed as the “Fleur de Lis Pick 4,” bettors will be required to pick the winners of four races late Saturday afternoon: two races at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La. and two stakes events at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
The minimum wager on the Fleur de Lis Pick 4 is 50 cents. Fair Grounds will serve as host of the wager.
Here’s the sequence for the unique Fleur de Lis Pick 4:
Leg 1: Fair Grounds Race 7 (4:35 p.m. ET)
Leg 2: Churchill Downs Race 9 (4:57 p.m. ET)
Leg 3: Fair Grounds Race 9 (5:35 p.m. ET)
Leg 4: Churchill Downs Race 11 (5:56 p.m. ET)
The opening leg from Fair Grounds is a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf (an oversubscribed field of 14), while the third leg is the $75,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial for fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on the grass (an oversubscribed field of 12). The second and fourth legs from Churchill Downs are the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club.
The Fleur de Lis is a symbol that is deeply ingrained in the history of both Louisville and New Orleans and has traditionally been used to represent French royalty. The English translation for the French “fleur-de-lis” is flower of the lily.
DOWN THE STRETCH – There were no winning tickets in Thursday’s 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot so there was a full carryover of $49,627 in Friday’s program. The sequence begins in Race 7. First post is 1 p.m. Sunday’s card will feature a mandatory payout to close the Fall Meet. … Highly regarded maiden winner Mr. Monomoy, the half-brother to Champion filly Monomoy Girl, returned to the work tab with a half-mile move in :49.40 Friday morning at Churchill Downs. Mr. Monomoy is likely to join Cox’s string at Fair Grounds. … Happy Birthday wishes are extended to outrider Greg Blasi, who turned 50 on Friday.