Trainer Pat Byrne always had confidence in his 2-year-old colt Just Move On, but his trainer was reassured Thursday at Churchill Downs when the 2-year-old son of Street Boss rolled to a 2 ½-length victory in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles.
Just Move On stopped the teletimer in 1:44.12, which has prompted Byrne to target the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) on Saturday, Nov. 26.
“My plan is to run him back in the Jockey Club,” Byrne said. “I only got 16 days until the race but that colt is a big and strong colt.”
Prior to Thursday’s victory, Just Move On was a troubled second in an allowance start at Keeneland on Oct. 20 where he was beaten a neck by Thirstforlife despite a late rush once in the clear.
“He should’ve won for fun at Keeneland,” Byrne said. “He’s been an unlucky horse and I thought that I had the best horse in that race. It’s nothing that the jocks have done wrong. It was a tough race (Thursday) and Ian (Wilkes’) colt (Sonic Boom) showed up. He ran a good race.”
Owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, Just Move On was ridden Thursday by Declan Cannon, who replaced regular rider Jose Valdivia Jr. following a spill in Thursday’s fourth race.
“I felt bad for Jose Valdivia Jr. but I was happy to be able to get Declan on the horse,” Byrne said. “He did what I wanted him to do. I wanted to get him out and that’s what he did. I didn’t want to be lollygagging at the back of the pack.”
Byrne has hopes that Just Move On could represent him in next year’s edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). His last starter in the Run for the Roses was Take Charge Indy, who ran 19th in 2012.
“What’s funny is with Take Charge Indy, he broke his maiden at Arlington, ran second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, then got beat in his a-other-than (allowance),” Byrne said. “But this horse won his a-other-than here as a 2-year-old which is hard to do. Stepping up and beating winners can be hard for such a young horse. After Take Charge Indy got beat in his a-other-than as a 3-year-old to Todd Pletcher (El Padrino), I sat on him and got him ready for the Florida Derby and he wins. He was a very talented horse, I’m not sure that he’s as talented as Take Charge Indy but they’re absolutely solid.”
Byrne believes that a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club would put him on the list of some of the best 2-year-olds in the country and speaks volumes of Kentucky-based 2-year-olds Classic Empire and Not This Time, the one-two finishers of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI).
“He’s still got to stamp his résumés,” Byrne said. “He just won an allowance race but if he jumps up and wins in 16 days, you’ve got the three best 2-year-olds in the country right here in the state of Kentucky. Both Churchill Downs-trained horses ran one-two in the Breeders’ Cup (Classic Empire and Not This Time) and you got this colt. It’s hard to go out to California and ship but those two stomped on them. They didn’t have Bob Baffert breathing down their neck at the sixteenth-pole; those two separated themselves from the rest of the best 2-year-old horses in the country including New York and California.”
Byrne started that his other 2-year-old Silent Decree, fourth in the Street Sense Stakes last time out, also would likely race in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Other known possible starters include McCraken and Warrior’s Club.
VALDIVIA SIDEDLINED BY BROKEN LEG – Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. is expected to be sidelined through mid-January after the 41-year-old native of Peru sustained a broken left tibia and fibula during an accident in Thursday’s fourth race at Churchill Downs. Valdivia underwent surgery to repair the break Friday morning at the University of Louisville Hospital.
Valdivia was unseated from his mount, Millenial, when something went amiss with the 2-year-old colt as the field of 12 juveniles neared the far turn in the 1 1/16-mile grass race. Millenial fell when he severely injured his left front leg and was humanely euthanized, according to Dr. Bruce Howard, the chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
American Sea, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., and Exit Laughing, with Shaun Bridgmohan up, were unable to avoid the fallen horse and rider, and fell, as well. Corey Lanerie also was unseated from his mount, Irish Proud, but the colt did not fall.
Bridgmohan, Lanerie and Santana walked back to the Jockey’s Room and were examined by the track’s doctor. Bridgmohan took off his remaining two mounts because of body soreness. Lanerie and Santana were cleared to ride and both scored victories later on the card.
“I felt like I had won that race just to be able to walk away from it okay,” said Lanerie, who won the following race on Copus and Race 8 on Bellatori for three wins on the day. “For a moment I didn’t know what to expect. I just held on for the ride. It always feels good to get right back up from it and go win. It kind of makes you forget about that bad moment and just think about the good ones.”
The incident tore the material off the heel of Santana’s right boot.
“I was really happy to come back and win that race,” Santana said, referring to a three-length triumph in Race 6. “I just hurt my leg real bad earlier (Thursday). I don’t know how bad it is. I’m feeling alright and just hope that I can keep riding. (Friday) is a new day so hopefully I’m feeling better by then.”
Bridgmohan was back in the saddle on Friday.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti reported that American Sea appeared to be fine back at the barn. Kenny McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott, said Exit Laughing seemed “okay” but might be “a bit body sore.”
GRADED STAKES PLACED BLIP N’ TH BYE RETURNS IN SUNDAY ALLOWANCE AFTER LONG LAYOFF – Following a six-month layoff, Beau Lane’s Blip n’ Th Bye will return to racing action in Sunday’s ninth race at Churchill Downs, a three-other-than allowance at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
The daughter of Tale of Ekati last raced on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard when she second behind six-length winner Carina Mia in the $200,000 Eight Belles (GIII). Prior to that Blip N’ Th Bye won the $50,000 Cajun Miss at Evangeline Downs.
“She was a little sick over the summer so we gave her some time off which it looks like she needed,” said trainer Al Stall Jr. “She’s back to training like herself. She should have a speedy journey.”
Jockey Florent Geroux has the mount for Sunday’s race.
ONE MEAN MAN 3-1 MORNING LINE FAVORITE IN COMMONWEALTH TURF – Churchill Downs morning line odds maker Mike Battaglia made One Mean Man the 3-1 morning line favorite in a competitive renewal of Saturday’s 13th running of the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The field, from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Zapperini (Corey Lanerie, 15-1), Sir Dudley Digges (Julien Leparoux, 9-2), Blackout (FR) (Florent Geroux, 6-1), Hay Dakota (Denny Velazquez, 20-1), Surgical Strike (Jose Valdivia Jr., 8-1), Scholar Athlete (Angel Cruz, 8-1), One Mean Man (Robby Albarado, 3-1), Bondurant (Brian Hernandez Jr., 6-1), Ikerrin Road (IRE) (Ricardo Santana Jr., 15-1), Tizzarunner (Chris Landeros, 6-1) and Discreetness (Jesus Castanon, 20-1).
BUSY SATURDAY – Central Avenue will be bustling with activity Saturday. Churchill Downs’ 11-race program begins at 1 p.m. (admission gates open at noon) with the finale set for 6 p.m. One hour after the last race, No. 6 Louisville (8-1) returns home for its ACC finale when it hosts Wake Forest (6-3) at neighboring Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a nationally-televised college football game on ESPN2.
SINGLE 6 JACKPOT – There’s an eight-day carryover of $31,528 in the 20-cent minimum Single 6 Jackpot for Friday, and the sequence covers Races 6-11 starting at 3:30 p.m. EST. The Single 6 Jackpot, which features a low 15-percent takeout, will be paid out only if there is a single winning wager with six winners placed at the required minimum bet value. If there are multiple winning wagers with six winners in the six-race sequence, 90 percent of the net money wagering into the pool will be paid out, and the remaining 10 percent will carry to the Single 6 Jackpot. If there are no tickets will all six winners, 100 percent of the pool will carry to the Single 6 Jackpot. There will be a mandatory payout on closing day.
TWELVE-WAY SHAKE FOR SNICKERBOXER – Snickerboxer, who finished fifth of six as the 2-1 second-choice in Thursday’s third race for Marshall K. Gramm’s Ten Strike Racing and trainer Randy Matthews, was claimed for $10,000 by owner Danny Caldwell and newcomer trainer John Ortiz in a meet-high 12-way shake. Overall, the 5-year-old Into Mischief gelding has won four of 14 starts with one second and a pair of thirds and $49,802. Ortiz seeks his first winner and has only started two horses: maiden 2-year-old filly Eye On the Money and Caldwell’s 8-year-old gelding Winkatdawat, who was fifth in a seven-furlong race at Keeneland on Oct. 22.
On Wednesday, owners Jackie Rojas and R. Todd White and trainer Chris Hartman won an eight-way shake for 4-year-old colt Mutation, who was claimed for $10,000 while finishing second in the sixth race.Through the first eight days of the 21-day Fall Meet, there have been 54 claims totaling $948,000.
MEET LEADERS – Make it six wins at the Fall Meet for Rusty Arnold, who improved his Fall Meet record to 10-6-1-2—$228,873 after Quality Emperor won Thursday’s finale. Arnold, who led all trainers during the 1987 Fall Meet with nine victories, leads the trainer standings with six wins, two more than Eddie Kenneally and Mike Maker. … Corey Lanerie won three races Thursday to take an 11-9 lead over Brian Hernandez Jr. in the Fall Meet jockey standings. Joe Rocco Jr. is third with seven wins.
MILESTONE WATCH – Jockey Jon Court enters Friday’s action four wins shy of 4,000 career wins. … Trainer Paul McGee needs five victories to reach 1,000 career wins. … Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is four wins away from becoming the first trainer to saddle 700 career wins at Churchill Downs. Don’t look now, but Dale Romans is approaching Mott’s all-time local win record. Mott has a 696-679 lead over Romans.
HAMMOND TO BE HONORED BY KENTUCKY THOROUGHBRED OWNERS – Veteran broadcaster Tom Hammond – the thoroughbred-racing icon who also is one of network sports’ most versatile stars – will be feted by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners with the organization’s prestigious Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award.
Hammond, the anchor of NBC’s annual Kentucky Derby broadcasts as well Breeders’ Cup and Summer and Winter Olympic coverage, is the featured honoree at the KTO’s 29th annual awards gala Saturday, Nov. 19 at Big Spring Country Club in Louisville. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7. Tickets are available for $125, including dinner and drinks, by contacting Marlene Meyer at (502) 458-5820. Churchill Downs’ John Asher is the emcee.
The Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to Kentucky racing and sharing the passion exemplified by Jones, founder of Oldham County’s renowned Hermitage Farm and who spent 50 years on the Churchill Downs board, including eight as chairman during the iconic track’s resurgence. Jones was the inaugural winner in 1988, six years before his death.
Hall of Fame sports journalist Billy Reed calls Lexington’s Hammond “one of the most recognizable and admired network sports TV stars in the industry’s history.”
Hammond graduated from Lafayette High School, lettering in football and basketball, and the University of Kentucky. He started out reading race results at radio station WVLK. He became sports director at NBC affiliate WLEX-18, leaving after 10 years to form Hammond Productions, leading to his role as play-by-play man for Southeastern Conference basketball telecasts.
Hammond also started a long association with Keeneland as an announcer at the famed thoroughbred auctions. His voice and knowledge of horse racing caught the attention of NBC, which hired Hammond for its team broadcasting the first Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park. He later would become the voice of NBC’s Olympic track and field coverage, for which he has called all nine of sprint icon Usain Bolt’s gold medals.
NOMINATIONS TO CLOSING WEEKEND STAKES CLOSE SATURDAY – Nominations for Churchill Downs’ six graded stakes events over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend close Saturday at 11:59 p.m. EST.
The anchor of the lucrative weekend comes on “Black Friday,” Nov. 25 with the 142nd running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). The 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up annually lures some of the top older horses in North America.
Also added to this day is the 26th running of the $200,000 Mrs. Revere (GII), a prominent 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, which previously was run earlier in the meet.
The 101st running of the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles and the 39th running of the $100,000 River City Handicap (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf highlight Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs. Racing on Thanksgiving Day (first race at 11:30 a.m.) has been a Louisville tradition at Churchill Downs since 1969 where more than 7,000 turkey dinners are served with all the trimmings, making it the largest number anywhere in the region.
Saturday, Nov. 26 – the penultimate day of the Fall Meet – is “Stars of Tomorrow II,” a 12-race program entirely devoted to 2-year-olds. The marquee events are a pair of Grade II, $200,000, 1 1/16-mile races: the open Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod for fillies that are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks series which award points to the Top 4 finishers (10-4-2-1).
‘INSIDE CHURCHILL DOWNS’ AIRS SUNDAY ON ESPN 680 AT 9 A.M. – “Inside Churchill Downs,” co-hosted by Churchill Downs Racetrack’s John Asher, Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein, will air Sunday from 9-10 a.m. (all times Eastern) on ESPN 680/105.7. Those outside the Louisville radio market can listen live online at http://www.espnlouisville.com/. Podcasts of the shows also will be available on the station’s website.
‘STAKES AND EGGS’ SUNDAY BRUNCH – Throughout the Fall Meet, Churchill Downs is offering a special “Stakes and Eggs” brunch special in the newly-renovated Stakes Room every Sunday. The $45 package for adults and $22 package for children includes a seat in the Stakes Room on the fourth floor of the Clubhouse and all-you-can-eat access to the brunch menu that includes an omelet station, scrambled eggs, biscuits and country gravy, French toast, hot brown, carved country ham, crispy bacon, sausage patties, hash brown potatoes with peppers and onions, fresh fruit, garden vegetables, breakfast breads and a chef’s dessert display. Gates on Sundays open at noon and the first race is 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets, in person at the Gate 1 box office or by calling (502) 636-4400.