Rain began to pour down as the horses left the starting gate for Saturday’s Aristides (Grade III) at Churchill Downs, but that didn’t dampen trainer Chris Hartman’s mood as his stable’s star Alsvid held off 4-5 favorite Limousine Liberal to win his second consecutive running of the six-furlong event.
“It was another big win and a great win by Alsvid,” Hartman said Sunday morning. “He’s the best horse we got. He’s been a blessing for sure. Any horse that makes over a million (dollars) is the kind of horse you’re looking for when you go to a sale. You want a horse that can separate himself from the rest and that’s what this horse has done. He’s a sprint specialist.”
The Aristides was a big redemption for the 7-year-old son of Officer and was his first trip to the winner’s circle since a victory in last year’s edition of the race. Since then, he was winless in 11 starts which included a string of six efforts in the money this year.
“It was a good win for him, he really needed it,” Hartman said. “I thought the race was shaping up well for the horse and we drew very favorable for him so there are a lot of pluses for sure and he validated that with the win. It’s good to get him back in the groove.”
During the race, Alsvid sat just off pacesetter Union Jackson, who set swift fractions of :22.08 and :45.10.
“He was right on the pace and we were really just right off of the lead so it’s not like he was a pacesetter but I was pretty happy with the break and was never worried throughout the whole race,” Hartman said.
Following his triumph in last year’s Aristides, Alsvid raced in the Smile Sprint Handicap (GII) at Gulfstream Park where he was a well-beaten fifth behind eventual winner Favorite Tale.
"He’s definitely not going to go that route again,” Hartman said. “But I’m going to wait and see how he pulls up and find another spot. I’m not sure what we’ll do next. He’s not the kind of horse you can just pencil in a schedule for; you got to roll with the flow with him.”
DIVISIDERO RECORDS FINAL BREEZE PRIOR TO BELMONT’S MANHATTAN – Gunpowder Farm LLC’s Divisidero, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard, put in his final work for his attempt at a second consecutive Grade I victory in the $1.5 million Manhattan on the June 11 Belmont Stakes undercard. The son of Kitten’s Joy went a half-mile in :48.60 over a fast main track Sunday morning under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
“He had a nice breeze and he galloped out well,” trainer William “Buff” Bradley said. “I think he’s one of the top turf horses in America right now but a win would put him right there at the top and with the way he’s training and going into this race I don’t see any reason why he doesn’t have a big shot to win.”
The 1 ¼-mile turf event at Belmont Park is expected to attract some of the nation’s top turf contenders, including international star Flintshire, who was second in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) at Santa Anita behind Main Sequence.
"When you run Grade Is for that kind of money, you’re going to attract the best that there is,” Bradley said. “It’s going to be tough race, everything has to go our way since we’re running against this type. When you run against those there is no room for mistakes so we hope to get him up there in good order and get another big win under his belt.
“I really don’t have any concerns. This is the week we get him up there in good order and he handles everything pretty well so I don’t think the ship should bother him.”
COX TALKS PLANS WITH SPELLING AGAIN, RECENT ALLOWANCE WINNER ALLIED AIR RAID – Trainer Brad Cox is beginning to look ahead for Spelling Again, who was a troubled third in the May 28 Winning Colors (GIII), and Allied Air Raid, who won Friday’s eighth race, a second-level allowance-optional claiming event on the main track.
“We’ll look to a three-other-than or maybe a stakes somewhere,” Cox said of Allied Air Raid. “Maybe the ($300,000) Cornhusker (GIII at Prairie Meadows on July 2) or the ($100,000) Michael Schaefer (at Indiana Grand Race Course on July 16).
“So far it looks like he bounced out in good order. It was a big race. He showed up and he always knocks on the door but he finally got the job done the other day. We gave him the winter off and now he’s better than ever. He came back great. We’re really happy with the way he’s been training. He probably needed the race here on Derby Day. He was really tight the other day and was ready to roll.”
Cox did not specify where Spelling Again would race next, but options for the daughter of Awesome Again include the $150,000 Bed o’ Roses (GIII) at Belmont Park on June 25 or the $100,000 Saylorville at Prairie Meadows on June 30.
“We’re not scared to stretch her out to a mile or a mile-and-a-sixteenth but we don’t have anything specific circled in yet,” Cox said. “We’ll just wait and see. A lot of people thought that coming back in two weeks was too fast, but she put in a great effort. She handled the dirt in her face at all, the jock (Shaun Bridgmohan) had to stay in what position she could. I think had the race been 6 ½ (furlongs) she would have got there.”
FOLEY LOOKS AT OPTIONS FOR MIGHTY BEAU OVERNIGHT WINNER LATENT REVENGE – Following his first stakes victory in Saturday’s Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes, trainer Greg Foley is seeking the next engagement for Latent Revenge.
“We’d like to keep him close to home,” Foley said. “I don’t know if (racing secretary) Ben (Huffman) will put one more of these overnights late in the meet, but we may have to look around. If they have something for him over at Indiana Grand we might go there or Mountaineer, but it’d be nice to have something here.”
Last time out Latent Revenge was a well-beaten 12th in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
“Derby Day we were disappointed in his race, he gave it up, too,” Foley said. “The same horse (Rocket Heat) he went head-to-head with at Keeneland ended up winning the race and we stopped. This race came up so we pointed back for it and we got the job done. It’s a good thing the rain held off.”
DOWN THE STRETCH – The iconic Twin Spires of Churchill Downs will glow red and black through Friday to honor Muhammad Ali, who passed away Friday at age 74. Ali, who will be memorialized in his hometown of Louisville this Friday, was a staunch supporter of the academic and athletic programs at the neighboring University of Louisville. … Corey Lanerie won four races Saturday to take sole possession of the lead in the jockey standings, 35-31, over Julien Leparoux. … Known probable starters for the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile grass event for fillies and mares on Saturday, June 11, according to Churchill Downs stakes coordinator Dan Bork: Cash Control, Flying Tipat, Josdesanimaux, Kiss Moon, Lady Fog Horn, Personal Diary, Sweet Acclaim and Zipessa. Entries will be taken Wednesday.