As the snows falls to give today’s ice a nice blanket, it must be Turfway Park & the winter (of our discontent) meet. I’ve always liked Turfway Park (and Latonia when it raced under that name). Having said that, Turfway Park is on the clock.
With no gaming coming & northern Kentucky/Cincinnati undergoing a rapid expansion in gaming in that metro market, the writing is on the wall. Soon, much like Hollywood Park, the land the track sits on will outweigh any benefits of being a thoroughbred track.
Illinois racing takes the winter off, so too now does West Virginia. The racing world won’t end if Kentucky goes dark in January & February. It almost is already.
What does tend to happen at Turfway though is some crackerjack good (and large) field tends to gather for the $50,000 Saturday stakes…this Saturday that means the 28thHoliday Inaugural Stakes with fourteen (14) entered. Twelve (12) can start.
(King) Wayne Lukas has won this event three (3) times (1989, 1995 & 2007). Riders Dean Kutz (1990, 1997) & James Lopez have each won twice (2001-02).
Jon Court won this event in 2000 & he might just ring the trifecta to a similar number on 20-1 shot Dreamin Big. While she’s 0-for-2 at Turfway, running 5th in this event last year, then being vanned off from the Likely Exchange Stakes six weeks later, her style on this track demands one more chance, especially at the price.
Ire (4-1), Purely Hot (5-2) & Soft Whisper (5-1) certainly rate better on paper, but this is Turfway. Demand a price, especially in a big field. Dreamin Big has been first or second in 19 of her 25 starts. That’s a racehorse. Go get yourself paid.
Clark Handicap Bio
This Friday’s Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs is truly one of America’s great, storied races & the last major event for older horses annually. No less than 14 Kentucky Derby winners have also won the Clark, although many occurred in the Clark's early years when it was run for three-year-olds in the spring (like the Derby). The Clark moved to Churchill’s Fall Stakes Calendar in 1953. Silver Charm in 1998 is the last Derby winner to also win the Clark.
2011 Preakness winner Shackleford ended his career with a popular Clark Handicap win in last year’s race.
The year prior, soon-to-be two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan won the 2011 Clark Handicap. His half-brother Successful Dan had won the year prior (2010), only to have his victory taken away in what’s become a slew of controversial DQs from Churchill Downs stewards in recent years. And in 2009, Blame won a stellar Clark. He’d return to Churchill the following year to win the Stephen Foster Handicap in the spring & dethrone Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that autumn.
Silver Charm carried (by today’s standards) a heavy 124 lbs. in winning that ’98 Clark. Swoon’s Son carried 128 lbs. in his Clark win in 1956. Only the legendary Exterminator ever won w/more. He carried 133 lbs. in his 1922 Clark Handicap win (as a 7-year-old). Whirlaway, the famed ’41 Derby winner carried 127 lbs. the following spring when winning the ’42 Clark. Friday, Game on Dude will try & write his name into the Clark annuls under a post of 126 lbs.
Along with the Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks, the Clark has been run at Churchill Downs every year since 1875. T he Falls City Handicap (held on Thanksgiving Day) was also held that first meet in 1875, however, it’s not been renewed consecutively over the years.
The Clark originally was a two mile test (1875-1880) which followed the Derby, then moved to 1 ¼ miles from 1881-1895. Sturdier steeds in the those days!
The Clark Handicap moved to Churchill’s Fall Meet in 1953 & to its current 1 1/8th mile distance in 1955. The race was self-named for the track’s founder, Meriwether Lewis Clark. It was a young Clark who went to live with his aunt & her sons (John & Henry Churchill) after his mother passed. Clark later leased 80 acres of land that became Churchill Downs from the Churchill family. The track opened that first season as the Louisville Jockey Club & Driving Park Association. Its first reference as Churchill Downs doesn’t appear until circa 1883.
According to legend, a stock market crash in 1893 hit Clark deeply & it’s reported that his fear of poverty led him to commit pistol suicide in the Gaston Hotel in Memphis in the spring of 1899.
The 1875 Clark & the Times that Were
When Voltigeur won the first Clark on May 22, 1875, U. S. Grant was nearing the end of his second term as America’s 18th President. Alexander Graham Bell was days away from his first successful voice transmission (precursor to today’s I-Phone). Jesse James was still robbing trains in Missouri.
Locally, Preston Leslie was governor of Kentucky. UK fans might recall a QB named Tim Couch hailing fromLeslie County, named in honor of Governor Leslie. Leslie had defeated John Marshall Harlan for governor, calling Harlan a “political weathercock!” Weathercock (or weather vane) in those days referred to someone who’s politics went w/whatever direction the wind blew.
Harlan didn’t take it too personal though. After his defeat, he went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice & recommended Leslie to become Territorial Governor of Montana in 1887. The U.S. was comprised of 37 states when the first Clark went to post in 1875. Colorado would become #38 the following year. Harlan too would also get a Kentucky county named after himself.
One of my earliest Clark Handicap memories is of the great gelding Warbucks winning the 1975 Clark as a five-year-old. He’d run last two years earlier in Secretariat’s Derby.
Two year’s later, Bob’s Dusty won the first of his two consecutive Clarks in 1977. His stablemate, Lot ‘o Gold made it a stable three-peat in 1979. Both had been off-the-board in earlier Kentucky Derbies. Smiley Adams trained the pair (along w/Run Dusty Run). Adams still remains tied with the legendary Ben Jones as the only trainers to win three Clark Handicaps. The Hall of Famers Isaac Murphy & Pat Day are the only riders to win the Clark four times.
Hodge (1915-16) & Bold Favorite (1968-69) share honors w/Bob’s Dusty as the only horses to win the Clark twice. Bob still holds the all-time largest victory margin w/his emphatic 11-length romp in 1978 under Richard DePass (his rider in his '77 Clark as well).
Jim McKnight, a longtime Louisville favorite, rode his only Clark Handicap winner in 1983 aboard Jack Slade. Just turned exercise rider-to-trainer Paul McGee upset the Clark in 1988 with a recent claim, Balthazar B.
Alphabet Soup ran 3rd in the ’95 Clark & would win the following year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
A decade before Rachel Alexander became the first three-year-old filly to beat older horses in a Grade 1, it was the three-year-old filly Surfside winning the 2000 Clark to cap her three-year-old season for Wayne Lukas. Lukas returns this year w/near-miss Breeders’ Cup runner-up Will Take Charge.
Pat Johnson won the 1986 Clark Handicap aboard Come Summer for Rusty Arnold. Johnson still rides (although sparingly) these days.
Somewhere around the time University of Louisville is putting the wood (do they ever anymore?) to Houston, a city block away, one of Churchill Downs newest stakes will run for its 11th time. It’s the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf for three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the lawn.
This race debuted Sunday, November 14, 2004 & was created as a companion race to the popular Mrs. Revere Stakes for three-year-old fillies going the same 1 1/16 miles on the lawn. Saturday, both races will highlight the only official night card of Churchill’s Fall Meet.
Flashback to the inaugural Commonwealth Turf Stakes…
Twelve days earlier, George W. Bush had routed John Kerry to win re-election as President of the United States. Bush tallied a 59-55 million vote win. Bush wouldn’t have many good days to follow.
Bobby Petrino, in his second legendary year in the ‘ville, had his #12 Cards routing TCU 55-28 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium the Wednesday night prior to that first Commonwealth Turf. Cards would run the table from there en route to an 11-1 record & win over top 10 & unbeaten Boise State in a classic Liberty Bowl.
Rich Brooks was suffering through a 2-9 season in Lexington, but did give Vandy “what for” 14-13 the day prior to the Commonwealth Turf. Things would be a bit better coming up for Orlando Smith as six days later his ’04-’05 Cats would defeat always juggernaut Coppin State en route to an Elite 8 finish (losing to Michigan State).
Rick Pitino & his 4th U of L Cardinal team would fare one notch better. Opening its season also six days after the first Commonwealth Turf (beating BYU-Hawaii), the Cards would make that season’s Final Four before being easily handled by #1 Illinois.
Usher & Alicia Keys “My Boo” ruled the radio. American Idol was beginning its 8-year run as the scourge of men across America & “The Polar Express” was just out in theatres.
And of that first Commonwealth Turf, Broadway View won for rider Johnny McKee & trainer Nick Zito. Rallying eight-wide from, 10th and last turning for home, Broadway View prevailed by a nose over America Alive at a tasty 18-1. McKee benefitted most that meet from a riders boycott against Churchill Downs (over health insurance) where the top riders choose not to ride. McKee would go on to claim his only Churchill Downs riding title that ’04 Fall Meet too.
And what of Broadway View…he won the inaugural Commonwealth Turf in the 17th start of his career which began with eight starts at Calder Race Course in Miami. The Commonwealth Turf would be his only stakes score & the final win of his eventual 27-race career. As a four-year-old, he went 0-for-6, then as a five-year-old added another 0-for-4 to his record, only once finishing as high as 3rd in those last 10 starts. He had come into the Commonwealth Turf off a disappointing 4th as the favorite in a six-horse allowance field on the then-Keeneland dirt.
But oh, on that Sunday, the 14th day of November in 2004, he keyed a $5,143 trifecta w/America Alive (11-1) & Capo (25-1) becoming the inaugural Commonwealth Turf victor. And so it was...
Several hours after the University of Louisville’s Cardinal dispatches College of Charleston at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, Churchill Downs will run its Cardinal Handicap for the 40th consecutive year. Race is 1 1/8 miles on the oh-so-tender turf course in Louisville. Ten (10) fillies & mares, three-years-old & older will race in the Grade 3 event.
Note since 1989, EVERY winner of the Cardinal Handicap has been a four-year-old filly with the exception of the oh-so-senior five-year-old mare, Sabellina, in 2006.
Biggest bomber in stakes history was River Ball ($53) in 1993 with Mrs. Revere ($3) the lowest priced winner for her tally in the first division of the ’85 Cardinal Handicap. Mrs. Revere is honored each fall with a Grade 3 stake of her own now at Churchill Downs.
For its first two runnings, the then-named Kentucky Cardinal Handicap was for three-year-olds only going 1 1/16 miles. The inaugural running, for a $25,000 purse in 1974, attracted none other than Holding Pattern who had earlier that year won no less than the Travers Stakes.
That would prove to be the high water mark for Holding Pattern in his 71-race career. Four years after his Travers score & previous 2nd to Cut the Talk in the inaugural Kentucky Cardinal Stakes, Holding Pattern would turn up again in Louisville running 4th in the 1978 (non-defunct) Kentucky Handicap at Churchill’s Spring Meet & 7th in the ’78 Clark Handicap won for the second straight year by Bob’s Dusty at the Fall Meet.
While Royal Delta failed in her attempt to three-peat in last Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, her mom (Delta Princess) has Cardinal history. In the 30th& final start of her career, she was 2nd in the’05 edition. It was her only loss in three tries at Churchill Downs, where she had earlier that year won the Mint Julep & Locust Grove Handicaps during the Spring Meet.
As to the world as it existed for that first-ever Kentucky Cardinal Stakes on November 23, 1974…earlier that year, the centennial running of the Kentucky Derby was held & Cannonade rallied to win in the largest field ever assembled for the race, 23 starters. Angel Cordero rode Cannonade for the legendary Woodman…Woody Stephens.
The previous autumn, Cannonade had won Churchill’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes under Pete Anderson, defeating Satan’s Hills & Don’t Be Late Jim. Cannonade also won Churchill’s Stepping Stone Purse on opening day of Churchill’s 1974 Spring Meet, one week prior to his win in the legendary 100thDerby.
Did you know…do you remember…1974 as the year that Tricky Dick Nixon resigned as 38th President of the United States? Gerald Ford became the first…and only…president to never have been elected president or vice president to then serve as president.
How was it possible that Billy Swan and “I Can Help” had knocked off John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” as America’s #1 song on that November 23, 1974?
“Murder on the Orient Express” hit movie theatres the day prior to that first Kentucky Cardinal. “The Godfather II” would be released two weeks later. Debate rages on today as to whether the Godfather trilogy indeed “insists upon itself.”
Archie Bunker and “All in the Family” ruled the small screen, but “Sanford and Son” and “Chico and the Man” completed a United Colors of Benneton trifecta as America’s top 3 TV shows.
And but one month prior to that inaugural Kentucky Cardinal, Louisville’s own lip, Muhammad Ali ended a seven-year itch without the heavyweight title as he “Rope a Doped” George Foreman in eight rounds to regain his title belt in Zaire.
And so it was.
Breeders' Cup LIVE from flagfall to finish ONLY on ESPN 680 today (3:00-9:00p)
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
10 – She’s a Tiger (6-1 w/Steven)…named after Prince Fielder & his epic post-season efforts? She broke her maiden at, gulp, Pleasanton (where even Prince might be able to scratch out a blooper w/money on the line).
7 – Untapable (5-1 w/Napravnik)…shame the Breeders’ Cup will only set up shop in meaningless LA these day. Takes riders like Napravnik largely out of the game w/so many west coast runners filling entry box. No super horse, but should be live here.
9 – Sweet Reason (5-2 w/Solis)…daughter of Street Sense might not like the Santa Anita dirt, but anything that can win by 5+ in back-to-back Saratoga starts has talent.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf
1 – Dank (5-2 w/Moore)…could not have been more impressive in her US debut on Arlington Million day. Santa Anita course can be like asphalt though, so she’s no cinch.
10 – Kitten’s Dumplings (10-1 w/Rosario)…she packs a big heart & big late kick.
2 – Romantica (6-1 w/Guyon)…was she really 294-1 in her last start coming off grade 1 win in France? Euros are miles better than the Americans, even on Santa Anita’s green pavement.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
5 – Teddy’s Promise (6-1 w/Espinoza)…does her best running on this track, so with Breeders’ Cup stacking the deck against midwest/east coast horses again (and again), why fight it.
9 – Judy the Beauty (6-1 w/Velazquez)…can absolutely see gods giving Wesley Ward his long-deserved first Grade 1 win in a Breeders’ Cup event
8 – Dance to Bristol (5-1 w/Perez)…had seven race win streak stopped by another unbeatable monster in last. Unknown rider juices the odds too.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
4 – Reneesgotzip (5-1 w/Maldonaldo)…will be wingin’ on over to London to jam w/the Stones after this.
6 – Boat Trip (8-1 w/Bejarano)…lands roundhouse punch late & is right there at the wire.
12 – Mizdirection (4-1 w/Smith)…hard to knock 5-for-5 record on the Santa Anita weeds. Co-owner Jim Rome broadcasts on lesser station in Louisville so…
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
11 – Medal Count (20-1 w/Albarado)…racing gods complete Robby’s comeback year…2ndin Derby on plodder…today...biggest upset in Juvenile history.
14 – Strong Mandate (6-1 w/Rosario)…any horse related to Likely Exchange on the bottom is good enough for me. King Wayne looks ahead to ’14 Derby after this.
6 – Tap It Rich (6-1 w/Smith)…super impressive debut over same surface.
Breeders’ Cup Turf
11 – Magician (8-1 w/Moore)…grade 1 winner in Ireland, good enough for me.
7 – The Fogue (3-1 w/Buick)…three time grade 1 winner in England & Ireland should put him on top, Buick can get him beat though.
9 – Indy Point (9-2 w/Stevens)…three time grade 1 winner on dirt in Argentina, yet he’s found a home on the southern California turf.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint
3 – Gentlemen’s Bet (8-1 w/Castellano)…look for that price to get even tastier & this boy can uncrank a monster effort.
9 – Secret Circle (4-1 w/Garcia)…second start off 1 ½ year layoff, first start back was stellar. Boing?
12 – Laugh Track (20-1 w/Smith)…trying to re-start career as sprinter, his Phoenix runer-up at Keeneland puts him right there if race comes apart.
Breeders’ Cup Mile
5 – Olympic Glory (4-1 w/Hughes)…if he’s best of the Euros, that should be enough.
8 – Wise Dan (1-1 w/Velazquez)…been a loooooong time since anyone came close to knockin’ this guy out on the weeds. How can you not root for him?
1 – No Jet Lag (8-1 w/Smith) he’s been a changed pony since comin’ over from England as a chronic under-achiever.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
10 – Will Take Charge (12-1 w/Saez)…so, he let me down in Derby & Preakness, King Wayne caps the comeback year of his Hall of Career at, what else, a price.
6 - Mucho Macho Man (5-1 w/Stevens)…brings $2.5mm bankroll & great local form to the dance. Will it be Hall of Famer Stevens capping his remarkable comeback year?
5 – Declaration of War (10-1 w/O’Brien)…sooooo much early pace in this race, there will be tasty pieces to pick up late.
Breeders’ Cup Marathon
10 – Worldly (6-1 w/Flores)…despite 3-for-27 career mark & no wins in more than two years, becomes "all world" w/the upset!
9 – Pool Play (8-1 w/DaSilva)…dude can crank out a big one every once in while on God’s own dirt, will be ploddin’ toward the leaders late.
5 – Suns Out Guns Out (10-1 w/Leparoux)…another cronic under achiever gets a piece for a heatin’ up Dale Romans.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
5- Bobby’s Kitten (5-2 w/Castellano)…it’s Ken Ramsey’s world & we're just here for the ride. That Kitten’s Joy puts out turf runners like no other.
8 – Bon Accord (20-1 w/Rosario)…anything Rosario rides w/talent at 20-1 is playable.
2 – Giovanni Boldini (7-2 w/Moore)…hard-pressed to keep all the Euros out of any turf race, even at Santa Anita.
Breeders’ Cup Mile
2 – Golden Ticket (12-1 w/Rosario)…McPeek & Rosario on live bomber…cha’ching!
7 – Alpha (8-1 w/Bravo)…Jersey Joe Bravo goes stylin’ L.A. on hit or miss horse bred for this trip.
12 – Goldencents (4-1 w/Bejarano)…back in his element around the one turn mile, low price though on California favorite on his home track.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
14 – My Conquestadory (9-2 w/DaSilva)…you bet’cha, there are some tough Euros in here, this filly is special though & priced right.
6- Vorda (4-1 w/Pesslier)…she was pretty special in England & France, that usually bodes well on this side of the ocean, experienced too.
10 – Clenor (8-1 w/Bejarano)…has won three straight in southern Cal, all at odds-on and now you get 8-1 & Bejarano, that’s tasty.
Breeders’ Cup Distaff
4 – Royal Delta (8-5 w/Smith)…she proves it every year when it matters most, three-peater.
2 – Authenticity (8-1 w/Velazquez)…she uncorks a great effort, comes up just shy.
6 – Princess of Sylmar (9-5 w/Castellano)…she’s been amazing all year, but normally when they plan to shut ‘em down & then tee up one more…think she’ll be fairly well beaten.
Fayette Stakes goes for its 56th time at Mr. Keene’s place on closing day of 2013 in Lexington. One of Keeneland’s more storied races, it’s been won by some of the greats including reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan in 2011. Wise Dan’s older half brother Successful Dan took honors in 2010.
One year prior to upsetting Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, Blame won the Fayette.
Heading back into time, 1990 Preakness winner & Derby runner-up, Summer Squall won the ’91 Fayette defeating none other than Unbridled, his Derby nemesis of the previous year.
Star Choice gave one of Kentucky’s most storied riders, Jim McKnight his only (amazingly) stakes win at Keeneland. McKnight remains 12th all-time in Keeneland wins despite leaving the Kentucky circuit about 20 years ago.
Silver Series (’78), Bob’s Dusty (’77) & Warbucks (’75) were other notables of the last great era in thoroughbred racing. Royal Harmony took the Fayette in three consecutive years (1969-71), all under different riders. His middle Fayette saw him defeat Derby winner Dust Commander. Chou Croute (’72) & Old Hat (’65), are the only fillies or mares to win the Fayette.
As the first Fayette field went to post, it was the end of the ‘50s & American hero Dwight Eisenhower was in his 7thyear as President. “Gunsmoke” ruled the small screen with a rating of 40.3. It was the era of only three channels. Three weeks before the first Fayette, “The Twilight Zone” debuted.
What a month for movie releases, that October of 1959…”North by Northwest” with Cary Grant, “Some Like It Hot” w/Marilyn Monroe & “Ben Hur” w/Charlton Heston all debuted.
Two weeks prior to the inaugural Fayette, the Dodgers (still new to Los Angeles) won the World Series in six games over Chicago White Sox. Bert Bell, commissioner of the NFL died while in attendance at Steelers-Eagles game in Philadelphia. Also being called home was screen legend Errol Flynn, dead at 50.
So it was a rainy closing day that 24th day October, 1959. Keeneland’s Fall Meet & thoroughbred season would conclude with its 1st running of the $17,00 Fayette Handicap. The popular winner that day was Terra Firma.
As a two-year-old, Terra Firma had taken honors in the Hawthorne Juvenile. His three-year-old season featured scores in the Ohio Derby along with the Stars & Stripes Handicap at Washington Park in Chicago. His rider that day when upsetting the Stars & Stripes to the tune of $17 was Lois Cook, father of Jason Cook (currently training in Louisville).
Terra Firm would retire with 17 wins in 37 starts across three seasons of racing. And while Terra Firma got the Fayette history started w/an odds-on win, it's Wop Wop who would make history several ways in 1985 when he won the Fayette under Darrell Foster for trainer John Ward. Not only was it the only Fayette ever run on the grass, Wop Wop paid a tasty stakes record $143.20 for his 2 1/2 length win in track record time. It would be Wop Wop's only win at Keeneland in 12 starts.
Dowager Stakes goes for 22nd time at Keeneland this afternoon. Race begin in 1992 at 1 1/8th miles before settling at its current 1 ½ miles. Since inception, it’s always been run over the lawn.
Angel Terrace (5-1) seems to be the play, especially if you can hold that price. Leading rider Rosie Napravnik takes the mount. Trainer Jonathon Sheppard won this race with Omeya in 2007. Sheppard also has Sheppard’s Pie in this rendition of the Dowager.
Bill Mott, who saddles Preferential, won this race in ’05 with Briviesca.
In the older filly & mare tradition of Keeneland (see its Spinster Stakes from a couple weeks ago), the Dowager offers tribute to a widow who holds a title or property, or dower, derived from her deceased husband. As an adjective, "dowager" usually appears in association with monarchical and aristocratic titles.
In loose popular usage, dowager as a stand-alone noun may be used to refer to any elderly widow, especially one who is wealthy or behaves with dignity.
No matter your lot in life...gorgeous day to head out to Mr. Keene's place.
Hope you enjoyed the tasty $11 winner provided for Keeneland’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Johnny Horse Racing certainly did!
Stakes action returns Thursday to Mr. Keene’s place w/the 1 ½ mile Sycamore Stakes. Love, love, love long distance races. Where have they gone Joe Dimaggio…
This marks the 19th renewal of the Sycamore which began as an even longer 1 5/8th mile test in 1995. Lindon Lime won that first edition under Hall of Famer Craig Perret. Gleaming Key would win the next two in 1996-97, then Royal Strand would double dip his chip in 1998-99.
Tops of all was Rochester, who won three (3) Sycamores (2001-02, 2005), he also finished 3rd in 2004. Last year was Ken & Sarah Ramsey (who else) with Kindergarten Kid.
So let’s Flashback to that first Sycamore in 1995…
Earlier in April of that year, Newt Gingrich & his republican colleagues created their “Contract with America” setting the stage for the Clinton years to boom. Unlike today, the southern democrat Bill Clinton worked w/republicans & went on to achieve easily the most successful democratic presidency since FDR.
Just a few days later though, the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, homegrown terror was front page.
Nine days prior to the first Sycamore, somehow, someway 12 people ruled O.J. Simpson not guilty of slaughtering his wife. American “justice” was never the same.
Three days after Lindon Lime won the inaugural Sycamore, Carolina Panthers won its first-ever NFL game beating New York Jets at Clemson Stadium. And of all teams, Atlanta Braves for once…and only once…proved to be the best team in baseball by beating long downtrodden Cleveland Indians 4 games to two in the World Series.
Mariah Carey still ruled the music world, topping the charts that October day w/”Fantasy.” “ER” was nosing out “Seinfeld” for tops on the small screen. Not much was happening at the box office w/forgettable films named “Jade”, “The Scarlet Letter” & “Strange Days” in new release.
Gas was just $1.09 per gallon…it’d be another generation until Americans would elect a president (yes, the current one out on the golf course) who’d boast of wanting gas to be $4-5 per gallon.
And what of Lindon Lime? The 5-year-old gelding, the first winner of the Sycamore…he ended his 29 race career that 12th day of October 1995 in Lexington. It marked his 11th win in 29 starts for a career that began with two years of modest success racing in England.
And while Keeneland proved his final win & start, perhaps Lindon Lime’s heart rested 60 miles west at the Churchill brothers place. Lindon Lime was a perfect 5-for-5 in Louisville winning the Louisville Handicap in 1995, River City Handicap in 1994 along w/three allowance races.
Thirty years ago this month, it was morning in America as the Reagan Revolution was beginning to bloom. In less than a month, Reagan would be re-elected by winning 49 of the 50 states. Minnesota just missed what would’ve been the only clean sweep in US history.
The Detroit Tigers were pretty close to a Major League Baseball sweep of its own. The Tigers started the ’84 season 35-5 & never looked back. They swept the ALCS & then easily handled San Diego Padres in five games to win its last World Series.
That year of 1984 would be Keeneland’s final fall meet without a turf course when the first Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup was run. Sintra & rising star Keith Allen would annex the inaugural by a scant nose over Pat Day & Solar Halo. Carl Nafzger’s Mr. T.’s Tune would finish third w/Jim McKnight aboard.
Field of nine (9) go to post today over a grassy nine (9) furlongs for a purses of $400,000 US.
1. Sarach (10-1 w/Marty Garcia)…first start east of the Rockies for this Grade 2 winner. All or nothing type has 4 wins w/no seconds or thirds in 10 lifetime starts. Appears just below this level.
2. Say (10-1 2/Jimmy Graham Crackers)…made her US debut last week in at Keeneland after 11 starts in Europe. Grade 3 winner just last month in Ireland but hated Keeneland’s polyturf track in last weekend’s First Lady Stakes. Not a world beater overseas but she’s certainly bred to be one. Running back on short rest a good sign & her mom (Riskaverse) won this race in ’02.
3. Caroline Thomas (12-1 w/Rosie Napravnik)…only stakes win came via DQ at Saratoga while 11-1. Wasn’t able to repeat that effort last out though. Her mom (Bit of Whimsy) won this race in ’07 so she’s got that working for her. Don’t see her catching fire today.
4. Alterite (9-5 w/Johnny Velazquez)…after nine starts overseas to stormed US shores w/Grade 1 win last out at Belmont Park. Sat off slow pace & finished well that day. Not close to Grade 1 in Europe but certainly looks the part here.
5. Emotional Kitten (6-1 w/Garrett Gomez)…it won’t be Go-Go Gomez as personal issues again send the up & down rider back to the sidelines. She won her only start by a nose at Keeneland last April at 6-1. Followed that up w/another nose tally in Pimlico Stakes race. Her two Grade 1 tries in southern California were pretty good. In fact, good enough to give her big chance. And never bet against Kitten’s Joy offspring on the turf. They just win.
6. Concise (12-1 w/Edgar Prado)…fourth start in US after first 6 in Europe. Still looking for her first American photo. Didn’t run bad at Saratoga or Belmont, just didn’t posses enough to win. Her style mimicks most of the field. Don’t see her out-kicking enough of ‘em.
7. Kitten’s Dumplings (3-1 w/Julien Leparoux)…got good in winning Edgewood & Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs, then Lake George at Saratoga. Shipped west and was beaten favorite at Del Mar. “Grass” at Del Mar is nothing like Keeneland. Has disappointed twice in Lexington, but both were on the polyturf track in Alcibiades & Ashland Stakes. She was a monster in Louisville & should have big say in this outcome.
8. Leigh Court (10-1 w/Gary Boulanger)…comes in w/three race Canadian win streak, all wire-to-wire. Distinct lack of pace speaks well for her in this QE II. She’s only made one turf start though & her breeding doesn’t scream grass. Should make all the pace to top of stretch but don’t see her near the wire.
9. I’m Already Sexy (6-1 w/Florent Geroux)…won three straight on the grass at Arlington Park, last two in stakes. Figures to sit off Leigh Court for about six furlongs then put it in gear. Won only start in Lexington at 12-1 last fall, but on the polyturf main track. Bargain buy at $20k can upset this field.
At the finish…
1st- Kitten’s Dumpling…you can’t even hope to contain the Ramseys or Kitten’s Joy.
2nd– I’m Already Sexy…gives it a ride at tasty price.
3rd– Alterite…bounces a bit in second US start.
4th– Emotional Kitten…those Kitten’s Joys can flat run on the weeds.
America’s oldest stakes race…The Phoenix…goes for the 161st time Friday afternoon at Keeneland. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest CONSECUTIVELY run stakes in the U.S. (139 & counting). "The Deener Show" w/ESPN 680 morning host Drew Deener will originate from Keeneland from 7:00a-10:00a on opening day Friday (October 4). That the makes Friday...a Furlong Friday on ESPN 680!!
Defending champion Sum of the Parts returns as does 2011 long-shot winner Hoofit. They are part of fifteen (15) entered in the $200,000 Grade 3 event going six (6) furlongs on polyturf. Up to fourteen (14) can start. Post time is 4:49p for the scheduled 8thrace. Looking for a bomber…keep an eye on Global Power for Scott Spieth & Jeff Radosevich. They win races by the bushel in Ohio & Pennsylvania.
First run in 1831, the Phoenix began at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington. Named after Lexington's Phoenix Hotel, it was run there up to 1930, although the race was not run from 1914-16, 1906-10 or 1898-1904. From 1937-42, the newly opened Keeneland Race Track hosted the Phoenix, followed by a three-year run at Churchill Downs during World War II (1943-45). It returned to Keeneland in 1946 & has remained there since.
Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan won the Phoenix in 2010. He returns to Keeneland on Saturday to defend his Shadwell Turf Mile title as prelude to another run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (which he won last year). Perhaps the modern era's greatest sprint filly, Xtra Heat, defeated her male counterparts in the 2002 Phoenix.
Zuppardo’s Prince was the last horse to win the Phoenix in back-to-back years (1980-81). Both times with Julio Espinoza aboard. Espinoza also double dipped that chip in 1972-73 with Honey Jay.
Recent iron horse Bet On Sunshine, won the Phoenix in 1997 & again in 2001 (as a nine-year-old). He also finished 3rd in 1996, 2nd in 1999 & 3rd again in 2000. All told, Bet On Sunshine visited the winner's circle 22 times in 47 career starts, bankrolling nearly $1.5 million dollars.
Derby winner Hill Gail won the Phoenix in 1952, then took the Derby Trial too before his winning Run for the Roses. The great Coaltown, stablemate to the immortal Citation, won the Phoenix in 1948. 19thcentury Derby winners Halma (1895), Chant (1894) & Kingman (1891) also list a Phoenix Stakes win on their resume, all prior to their winning Derby runs. And one of the greatest of all the 19thcentury runners, Ten Broeck, also won in 1875.
‘twas Labor Day Saturday, September 3, 1983, the looooong first-ever Churchill Downs Summer Meet neared its end. Featured on the 10 race card was the first running of the Perryville Stakes offering a $30,000 purse for two-year-olds going seven furlongs. And while the long-forgotten Perryville offered a couple of really nice runners in Taylor’s Special & Biloxi Indian, the 10th & final race was easily the most memorable race.
The "Ten Broeck Championship Two" offered a field of eight going…wait for it…THREE MILES (out the chute, of course). Race offered a solid $15,000 purse for starter allowance horses that had qualified over the summer during a series of marathon events.
Little can be readily found of this 24 furlong classic other than morning line favorite Talk About Spade won. Julio Espinoza rode for Clarence Breedlove. Second choice Tupolev, winner of the 2 mile “prep” a couple weeks earlier didn’t finish, nor did third choice Black Bullet w/Jimmy McKnight riding for Gary Sanders.
Some program notes from yesteryear of September 3, 1983 saw the legend that would become Pat Day winning the riders race w/169 wins, Keith Allen was closest w/98, followed by Leroy Moyers (79), Jim McKnight (76) & Don Brumfield (65). Bill Mott had a 50-41 lead in the trainers race over Jack Van Berg, followed by Jinx Fires (25), Lynn Whiting (25) & Shug McGaughey (23).
The "Duke of Louisville" Bill Bailey had gone country on WCII every morning from 6-10a & Don Draper (a.k.a. Dick Whitman) would note that KOOL cigarettes had the back cover…”There’s only one way to play it. Wherever the music is hot, the taste is KOOL. Because there’s only one sensation this refreshing.”
Churchill Downs rarely cards marathon distance races anymore, save for an occasional 1 3/8thmile race on the turf. Shame. Racing could use far fewer 5 ½ & 6 furlong cheap claiming events & more adventurous races like the Ten Broeck Series to generate…or at least ATTEMPT…to generate some excitement. Think it’ll happen this September…don’t bet on it.
In the long-forgotten Perryville Stakes…5-2 morning line favorite Biloxi Indian prevailed for rider Leroy Moyers & trainer Dianne Carpenter. He’d win 10 of 30 starts lifetime & nearly $400k in earnings. He’d run 12th to Swale in the ’84 Derby after a runner-up finish in the Derby Trial a week earlier.
Taylor’s Special, the 3-1 second choice in the morning line, would run to those odds & finish second under Jim McKnight. Overall though, he came out far ahead. Taylor’s Special & his up ‘n coming trainer Bill Mott, would win 21 of 41 lifetime starts & more than a million dollars. He’d finish just back of Biloxi Indian in the Derby too, finishing 13 thbut would return to run 4th in the Preakness two weeks later. He also sported a Blue Grass Stakes & Louisiana Derby win on his impressive resume.
And of Talk About Spade, his three mile win would be the last of his 11 earned his 60 start career which featured 21 of those starts at Churchill Downs. He run five more times in '83-'84 before fading in history. But during that summer meet of 1983...which saw him start 10 times in Louisville...NEVER once out of the trifecta w/three wins, 4 seconds & 3 thirds, no one since perhaps the legendary 19th century champion Ten Broeck himself has ever won a longer race at the most historic track in America.
Over the next two (2) weekends, your Big Game station…is also your Big Race station as ESPN 680 broadcasts both this weekend’s Arlington Million & next weekend’s mid-summer Derby, the Travers Stakes from Saratoga.
Beginning in November 2010, ESPN 680 formed an alliance w/Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN). Just weeks after assuming control of then Radio Disney, the newly minted ESPN 680 broadcast the 2010 Breeders’ Cup from Churchill Downs. Later this autumn, we’ll broadcast our fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup hosted by HRRN’s Mike Penna and his broadcast team.
In April 2011, Furlong Friday at Keeneland debuted and we’ve only missed one Friday in the Spring at Mr. Keene’s place over the past three (3) years. Forgive us that trespass as our entire broadcast team was in Atlanta on Opening Friday this year, covering U of L’s final run to its 3rdNCAA National Championship.
May 2011 marked our first year covering Kentucky Oaks & Kentucky Derby. ESPN 680 remains the ONLY station in Louisville to bring you, not only Derby & Oaks, but the entire Triple Crown series.
And, with our acquisition of Drew Deener in April, one of the first places we debuted our stellar morning host was the backstretch of Churchill Downs for our weeklong coverage of Derby Week live from the backside.
Next month, ESPN 680 will travel 65-south for ESPN 680 Day at Kentucky Downs on Wednesday, September 11, hosted by Bob Valvano. Average daily purses for the Franklin, Kentucky track will average $900,000, a North American record. Big race…only one place…ESPN 680.
Each Wednesday in September will feature a special “V. Stakes” from Kentucky Downs on the Bob Valvano Show. And, to celebrate Churchill Downs new September meet, we’ll host our inaugural “D. Stakes” on The Deeener Show each Friday morning. Our special stakes races are presented by our great friends at TwinSpires.com.
It’s summer and the country’s two (2) biggest races…the Arlington Millions & the Travers…are live AGAIN on ESPN 680!
Flashback: This is the story of Woodtrap, the last horse to break Churchill Downs 1 ¼ Mile track record NOT in the Kentucky Derby.
World War I had ended a couple years earlier & Warren G. Harding had entered the White House a couple months earlier, replacing a stroke-riddled Woodrow Wilson. The Roaring ‘20s had begun, along with Prohibition inspired by an earlier version of folks claiming to be progressive.
Since 1900, there have only been three (3) horses to break Churchill Downs most storied track record…1 ¼ miles…that did not do so while winning the Kentucky Derby. Belleview was the first in 1909 (as a 6-year-old) lowering the mark to 2.06 1/5 while just edging 1900 Derby winner Lieut. Gibson’s mark of 2.06 ¼ from nine years earlier.
Royal Report was next late in his three-year-old campaign of 1907. His 2.05 bettered Belleview’s mark by more than a second. This is the story of the 3rd and final horse to claim Churchill Downs gold standard…seven-year-old Woodtrap who would capture history at odds of better than 20-1 on May 21, 1921.
Old Rosebud had lowered Churchill’s track record to 2.03 2/5 in winning the 1914 Kentucky Derby & there the mark stood until that remarkable Saturday in Louisville. On the seven race card of May 21, 1921, Churchill Downs first race saw Mished the Time break the seven furlong track mark by almost 2 seconds, running 1.23 1/5 in a $1,300 selling race. Three races later, the new mark was equaled by Distinction in winning the Fountain Ferry Park Purse. Up next would be the featured $10,000 Kentucky Handicap, going the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles.
Immediately following the Kentucky Handicap, Miss Joy would break the 4 ½ furlong track mark in a time of .52 3/5. Four track records on a seven race card. Miss Joy would run second shortly thereafter in the Clipsetta Stakes at Latonia. The Clipsetta, first run in 1883, was one of Latonia’s most storied stakes races until being recast as the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1994. With Latonia (now Turfway Park) succumbing to casinos, the race has been discontinued & one of Kentucky’s legendary races gathers dust. Just 11 days prior to Miss Joy setting the 4 1/2 furong mark, she equaled Churchill Downs 4 furlong track mark of 46 3/5. The mark still stands today. Fair Phantom had set the mark on May 7, 1921, Casey equaled it two days later, then Miss Joy the following afternoon.
Woodtrap, the then seven-year-old veteran campaigner, was no stranger to Churchill Downs, having won the 1920 Falls City Handicap along with a $1,200 allowance in May, paying $26. He would face 12 others in the Kentucky Handicap. Included in the field were Behave Yourself, who just two weeks earlier had won the 47th Kentucky Derby at odds of 8-1. Also in the field was Upset, who two years earlier had beaten Man O’ War. The only loss Man O’ War ever experience.
As that stellar field for the 1921 Kentucky Handicap went postward, the New York Yankees had recently purchased 20 acres in the Bronx to build its new ballpark, Yankee Stadium. Progressives hadn’t stopped at Prohibition, new taxes were en vogue too as in May, West (by gawd) Virginia became the first state to enact a sales tax. Yes, you may have guessed, others then followed.
Six days after what would be Woodtrap’s run to history, Great Britain turned loose of part of its empire…Afghanistan. Hasn’t exactly been a magic carpet ride since either.
And, oh that Babe Ruth. On June 8, the Babe was picked up & jailed for speeding. After paying a $100 fine, Babe would two days later sock his 120th home run, breaking the Major League mark previously held by Gavvy Cravath.
1921 would make other marks on sports, it was to be the year of the Chicago Black Sox scandal. And, on the reverse, a spunky bunch from Centre College upset Harvard 6-0, ending Harvard’s 5-year winning streak in what was recalled as the upset of the century for many generations.
And poor ole Al Gore was 85 years late to the global warming dance. Turns out 1921 was the hottest year of the 20th century. But Al’s sitting on a wad of cash after selling his failing cable network to oil rich Arab investors & he still has his self-proclaimed invention of the internet to claim.
The New York Times reports Woodtrap ran his 1 ¼ miles in 2.03 1/5 & lit the toteboard at $45.20. Upset had checked early & never got rolling while finishing 6th. Behave Yourself, also had traffic issue early, made a run to the quarter pole & no more. The reigning Derby champ was 7th.
Woodtrap would run second two weeks later in the $5,000 Inaugural Handicap at Latonia, then six weeks later also second to Hall of Famer, Exterminator, in the $15,000 Independence Handicap going 1 ½ mile at Latonia.
Just three days prior, Woodtrap had run second to Jake Field in a nine-horse prep race which saw four riders fall. Jake Field paid $230.20 for the upset.
Woodtrap’s 1 1/4 mile mark would stand for 10 years at Churchill Downs, until Twenty Grand lowered the mark to 2.01 4/5 in 1931 while winning the 57th Kentucky Derby.
Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby & 1922 Clark Handicap, raced 99 times in his legendary career and, with 33 stakes victories, remains alone as the horse with the most stakes wins ever in America.
And of the beaten Derby favorite, Behave Yourself…he was a crooked legged sort & his owner, the noted E. R. Bradley gave him to the U. S. Army after a short stud career. He would breed calvary horses until his death in 1931 in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he’s buried today.
Woodtrap…while now lost to history, remains the last horse ever to break Churchill Downs famed 1 ¼ mile track record without doing so in the Kentucky Derby.
This week marks the 30th anniversary of one of Churchill Downs more obscure track records…1 5/8 miles & an Argentine iron horse named Tupolev.
Temps were triple digits, around 102 degrees & the track was fast when the field for the 3rd race at Churchill Downs went postward that Saturday afternoon of July 23, 1983. Martina Navratilova had easily beaten Andrea Jaeger (6-0, 6-3) to win Wimbledon a fortnight earlier. Johnny McEnroe had dispatched something named Chris Lewis (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) to win the Gentlemen’s Title.
Two weeks prior to Tupolev’s run to history, the Angel’s Freddy Lynn hit the first-ever MLB All-Star Game grand slam, leading the junior circuit to an easy 13-3 win. While Tupolev was running 3rd at Churchill Downs the week prior to his historic performance in Louisville, Tom Watson won the British Open. Watson would have his own historic run through Louisville a couple years ago, winning the Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla.
Just two days after Watson’s win, the first-place Philadelphia Phillies fired manager Pat Corrales. Didn’t hurt much, they cruised by 6 games over Pittsburgh w/Paul Owens in the managerial saddle, routed the Dodgers for the NL pennant before losing the World Series to Baltimore in five games.
The Saturday card at Mr. Churhill’s place that July 23, 1983 witnessed an “LM” double with Larry Melancon taking the opener at 15-1 for Bill Mott aboard Heir Fancy & Leroy Moyers winning the second half of the double for Greg Foley at 5-2 aboard Aurilla Miller. Double paid $120.80. Recall these were the days where Churchill only offered a Daily Double along with 5th & last race exactas.
Pat Day was running away w/the rider’s race, doubling second place Keith Allen 120-60 in the first-ever Summer Meet at Churchill Downs. Leroy Moyers (57 wins), Jim McKnight (55) & Don Brumfield (38) were rounding out the top five, followed by Julio Espinoza (33), Charlie Woods (32), Mark Sellers (21), double bug apprentice Steve Cuffari (19) & Phil Rubbicco (18).
Bill Mott topped all trainers with 33 wins, followed by Jack Van Berg (24), Jinks Fires (18), Lynn Whiting (17), Shug McGuaghey (16), Mark Casse (15), Rusty Arnold (14), Larry Edwards (13), Steve Penrod (13), Del Carroll (12) & Ray Lawrence (12).
Card featured couple cracklin’ good allowance races with Gemini Dreamer upsetting favored Sitzmark while winning the $15,000 Catholic Alumni Club allowance in the 7th. The great Ohio gelding Silahis won the 8th race, the $13,000 Hoop Jr. allowance w/his fellow Ohioian David Borden in the saddle. Silahis upset Ronny Turcotte.
Feature that July 23, 1983 Saturday was the first running of the long-gone Shawnee Stakes for fillies & mares going one mile for a purse of $30,000-added. Leader Miss, but 5-1 in the morning line, upset the race at final odds of 12-1 under Keith Allen. Kitchen & Kenny Knapp were also long odds while 2nd & the good racemare, Queen of Song finished 3rd. Favored Header Card never fired for Jim McKnight or trainer Bill Helmbrecht.
Pat Johnson, still active in the rider colony around Kentucky, was unplaced in the Shawnee Stakes aboard Glory Strings for Jack Fuchs.
Now the story of the fastest 13 furlong runner in Churchill Downs history, Tupolev. The 3rd race was part of the Ten Broeck distance series, honoring perhaps the greatest distance horse of the 19th century. The series would conclude with not only a 2 mile race, but also a never since run 3 mile finale. Now that was a fan friendly racing secretary.
Rajo Royale had set the track record of 2.53 3/5 in June of 1982. Tupolev would better it by more than 4 seconds, winning in 2.49 2/5. His mark stands today.
Tupolev, owned by Farid Sefa & trained by Larry Edwards, won as expected, paying $4.40. Whitehouse Cat & Julio Espinoza came 2nd with Luck Blow & Leroy Moyers 3rd. Purse for the $5k starter allowance was $6,000.
Tupolev had arrived at Churchill Downs in June of '83 after making five starts at Sportsmans Park & Arlington Park. He had wintered with five earlier starts at Gulfstream. He quickly found the path to Churchill’s entry box & ran 9th in his Louisville debut on June 7, 1983. Then ran an improved 5th on June 28 & 3rd on July 16 before making his mark on Churchill’s record book the following week.
Tupolev would make 72 starts after his track record setting performance at Churchill Downs, including a second win at Churchill Downs on August 20. After leaving Churchill Downs forever, after being eased in the Ten Broeck Championship on September 3, 1983, Tupolev headed north to Hazel Park in Michigan. Hazel once teamed with Detroit Race Course to form a nice circuit for the Great Lakes. Hazel has run trotters only for the past generation & Detroit Race Course was demolished years ago.
The year after Tupolev set his track mark in Louisville, he found his home in Louisiana, making his last 53 starts there, all but one at Jefferson Downs, Delta Downs or Evangeline Downs.
For his career, Tupolev made 113 trips to the post, winning 15 times. For his efforts, he bankrolled just over $100,000. As with many old claimers, it ended for Tupolev when he was eased in his 10th and final start of his 9-year-old season of 1987 at Jefferson Downs. Tupolev, the best there ever was running 13 furlongs at America’s most storied race track, had won but one of his last 33 starts. His name however, remains etched in the history book at historic Churchill Downs.
Flashback: Friday, July 13, 1984...at Major League Baseball (MLB) meetings in the summer of 1984, expansion was on the minds of the 26 team owners. Cities mentioned as candidates as MLB envisioned getting to 32 teams (16 in both American & National Leagues) were Indianapolis, Tampa-St. Pete, Denver, Vancouver, Washington D.C., New York City and…wait for it…Louisville.
Denver, along with Miami, got an expansion team in 1993. Tampa-St. Pete & Phoenix (Arizona) got expansion teams in 1998. Washington D.C. picked up the failed Montreal Expos franchise. With two teams already in NYC, no third team ever was needed. Only Indianapolis, Vancouver & Louisville stayed on the sidelines. ‘Course, Indianapolis did pick up an NFL team with its middle of the night acquisition of the Baltimore Colts.
So we turn to a Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs, July 13, 1984. It was the second & final Summer Meet at Churchill Downs that 87 degree afternoon.
Morning in America was breaking as the Reagan boom years were beginning to bloom. The Los Angeles Olympics were coming up quickly, but the Soviet Union would be boycotting in response to Reagan’s failed predecessor (Jimmy Carter) boycotting the Moscow games four years early. Carter’s reasoning…Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Now it’s the U.S. that’s still there now into the 5thyear of the Obama administration. Go figure.
As Lucky Larry went postward to become the fastest sprinter in Churchill Downs history, Louisville fans under the spires were remembering back-to-back runs to the 1982 & 1983 Final Four.
Denny Crum’s Cardinal would spend the ’84 summer though with the bitter taste of a Sweet Sixteen loss to Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Cards played well, Kentucky was simply better…and at home. That U of L season had begun with Kentucky avenging its Dream Game rout by running past Louisville 65-44 in the season opener, also in Rupp. Cards never got it going that 1983-84 campaign which also featured a middle of the night loss the night after Christmas to Chaminade in Hawaii.
Unlike Lucky Larry, Cardinal football was not unlucky, it was simply awful. Coming off a 3-8 campaign in Bob Weber’s 4thseason, the upcoming ‘84 season wouldn’t be an improvement, ending 2-9 with a loss to Murray State in the opener at Fairgrounds Stadium. The Weber years would be history after the ’84 campaign. Insert the genesis of the Cardinal’s rendezvous with the 2014 BCS National Championship as Howard Schnellenberger would soon take the reins.
Before Cat fans crow about the NCAA win at home vs. the Cards, it would lead UK to its epic nightmare 2ndhalf performance (3-for-33) against Georgetown in the Final Four, losing 53-40. It was one of Joe B. Hall’s better teams though, finishing 29-5 & #3 in the final poll.
The night prior to Lucky Larry’s new track record, the final episode of “Happy Days” had aired. “Dallas” still was king though. On the big screen, “Ghostbusters” was in its 6th(of 7) weeks as America’s top movie. Who ya’ gonna call…
On the radio…ouch, “When Dove’s Cry” was #1 one for the second of what would be five weeks at number one. Its reign would be ended by…Ghostbusters…when Ray Parker’s title track took the top spot.
Only the ’84 Detroit Tigers could’ve given Lucky Larry a run for his money, the Tigers started the baseball season 35-5 & would never look back in easily winning the American League Pennant & World Series.
Jefferson County Judge Executive Mitch McConnell was unleashing hounds as fast as Lucky Larry as he was to upset U.S. Senator Dee Huddleston that fall as Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide carried Mitch to Washington. He’ll defend his seat next year in a quest for a sixth term.
Swale was the reigning Derby champ. Sadly though, he had already passed away suddenly after a romping win the Belmont Stakes just a month before Lucky Larry carved his own name into Churchill’s record book.
Churchill’s six furlong track record, the most-run distance at the track, had stood at 1.09 1/5 since being set by Benedicto on May 13, 1961. Amber Break (Nov. 25, 1970) & Barbizon Streak (May 22, 1971) had equaled the mark, but no horse had ever run faster…until Lucky Larry.
Larry’s reign as the fastest sprinter in the history of Churchill Downs would last only two years. Big Pistol would better the mark to 1.08 3/5 in June of ’86.
Larry was coming off a 3rdin the Sawyer Stakes at Churchill Downs, one of the parade of small, long-since-forgotten stakes run during the long summer meets.
As a youngster, Larry was a horse for Churchill’s course, winning four times in 7 starts. A couple years later, Larry would resurrect his career at the rebuilt, now-demolished Garden State Park. He won his first four starts at the Jersey track, in 1985-86, including the only stakes win in his 28-race career, the Joyce Kilmer Handicap.
After a stellar campaign as a five-year-old in 1986, Larry would disappear for two years before a lone start in 1988, finishing 10thin a Monmouth Park claimer. But for one shining moment, on an 87 degree Friday afternoon in the 4thrace at Churchill Downs, Lucky Larry was the fastest horse ever to run at America’s most storied racetrack.
Churchill’s final stakes race of the Spring Meet is the 23rd running of $150,000 Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap. OR IS IT the 23rd running?? Hint...it’s NOT.
Thus begins the fascinating tale of the lost Firecracker (Handicap).
It was exactly 28 years ago this Saturday, June 29, 1985. The Churchill Downs track was fast & there was no turf for the final weekend of racing for the 1985 Spring Meet. Churchill had returned to its normal spring dates after racing through the summer in 1983-84.
Charlie Woods was en route to his first…and only…riding title in Louisville.
This year’s Derby winning trainer, Shug McGaughey, was en route to his one…and only…training title in Louisville.
Woods was holding off Julio Espinoza, Larry Melancon, Pat Day & Jim McKnight to claim his title. Day had left meet early after winning w/better than 30% of his mounts, opening the door for Woods to claim his lone title.
McGaughey was winning with better than 35% of his starters that spring meet of 1985. His closest pursuers were Forrest Kaelin, Bill Mott, Jinks Fires & Judith Zouck.
The meet’s closing day feature the following day was Sunday’s (June 30) $100,000 Cumberland Handicap. The Cumberland was one of many stakes created two years earlier (like the Firecracker Handicap) to support summer racing. It was for fillies & mares over the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles.
Pat Johnson, still active in the Churchill riding colony, had four mounts on the card. Apprentice rider, Steve Bass, scored a big 5th race upset at 12-1 aboard Relinchador for Thad Ackel. Bass would go on to become a leading jockey agent.
Feature race that 80o Saturday afternoon of June 29, 1985 was the 3rd running of the Firecracker Handicap. Purse was $50,000 for the handicap for older horses going seven furlongs.
Turn and Cheer, piloted by Jim McKnight & trained by A.J. Foyt, Jr. had won the previous year. Shot ‘n Missed won for Leroy Moyers & Brenda Wilson in its inaugural running in ’83.
Neil Howard had scratched second favorite Enemy Number One from the race leaving perennial leading rider Jim McKnight w/out a mount. Only five would face the starter.
Six-year-old Rapid Gray, having already won the Churchill Downs Stakes & Kentucky Handicap earlier in the meet, took off at 2-5 odds. He didn’t disappoint.
Rapid Gray won the 3rd running of the Firecracker Handicap in 1.21 1/5. A new track record, eclipsing the 21-year-old mark of 1.21 2/5 set by Olden Times in 1964. On his way, Rapid Gray’s ¾ mile split of 1.08 3/5 would’ve broken Churchill’s six furlong track mark by 2/5 of a second as well.
Larry Melancon was aboard for win for trainer Bill Mott. The classy eight-year-old Ohio-bred gelding, Silahis, would come second w/Mike Manganello aboard.
Rapid Gray came to his greatness late in his 56 race career spanning 1981-86. He didn’t win his first stake until his 43rdstart, the Whirlaway Handicap at Fair Grounds on January 27, 1985. His Firecracker win was his fifth straight overall at Churchill Downs, he also had won two allowance races at Churchill’s ’84 Fall Meet. In all, Rapid Gray won 26 starts.
And the lost Firecracker…
Churchill Downs only recognizes the first two runnings of the Firecracker in 1983-84. It does not recognize or remember Rapid Gray winning the actual 3rd running of the Firecracker Handicap in 1985. It presently lists 1993 as the 3rd running, the year the Firecracker was resurrected as a one mile turf event. Doing the math…this should be…and will be…the 24th running of the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs…but your program will say 23rd running.
So a track record setting performance by Rapid Gray, running at the time the fastest seven furlongs in this history of a track which started racing in 1875…remains to this day, a Firecracker lost to history.
And now you know, the rest of the Firecracker Handicap story.
This Saturday evening (June 29), for the 112thconsecutive year, Churchill Downs runs the Bashford Manor Stakes. It trails only the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks & Clark Handicap on the Churchill stakes schedule for most consecutive running. Great ole race.
First run on May 13, 1902, the race has always been for two-year-olds & always held during Churchill's Spring Meet. Julio Espinoza & Pat Day, each with four wins, lead all riders in Bashford Manor victories. (King) Wayne Lukas, who else, leads all trainers with five wins.
Favorite Trick won in 1997 en route to being named Horse of the Year. Summer Squall won in 1989 & would win the following year's Preakness, after running second in the Derby to Unbridled. Grindstone (1995), Clyde Van Dusen (1928), Black Gold (1923), Old Rosebud (1913), Worth (1911) &Donau (1909) all won the Derby in the year following their Bashford Manor appearances. Worth & Black Gold are the only to win both events though.
Race has been six furlongs since 1986. Between 1982-85, it was 5 1/2 furlongs. It held sway at 5 furlongs from 1926-81 & originated at 4 1/2 furlongs through 1925. Up until the mid-70s, it was always held in May. As Churchill's Spring Meet lengthened, the race has subsequently been held in May, June & July.
As that first Bashford Manor field went to post in 1902, rough ridin’ Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House, having succeeded Bill McKinley following his assassination. Roosevelt that year became the first president to ride in a car. Jimmy Winkfield rode Von Rouse to the inaugural Bashford Manor Stakes winner’s circle.
The first MLB World Series wouldn't be played until the following year (1903). The established National League & newly formed American League were battling over player contracts. ThePittsburgh Pirates were 1902 National League champs & the cross-state upstart Philadelphia Athletics won the American League.
It was Louisville’s 3rdsummer w/out Major League Baseball, as the Louisville Colonels had shut down after the 1899 season after eight losing seasons in the National League. The Colonels never climbed higher than 9thin any season’s standings. Many of the Colonels, including 1899 Colonels MVP Honus Wagner, made their way to Pittsburgh, where the Alleghenys (later renamed Pirates) would win two World Series & six National League pennants, including the 1902 season which would also see the inaugural Bashford Manor Stakes.
Speaking of baseball, Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance first appeared in a game together that 1902 baseball season. And, can you believe, Jimmy Collins left the NL's Boston Beaneaters to manage the new Boston Somersets (AL)?
Michigan had earlier that 1902 year won the first-ever Rose Bowl, pounding Stanford 49-0. Somewhere between the moon & New York City, Doug James is smiling. Oh, by the way, 111 year later, University of Louisville whipped up on Michigan to win its 3rdNCAA National Basketball Championship. Fast Times at Ridgement High indeed.
Bashford Manor Stable owned & bred two (2) Derby winners during its heyday at the turn of the 19thcentury. Azra won a three horse Derby in 1892, defeating an entry that comprised the other two horses. In 1906, the Derby field had doubled to six when Sir Huon came home first. Bashford Manor Stable also bred 1899 Derby winner Manuel. It was Manuel’s only win of his three-year-old season & he beat four others in his Derby.
Bashford Manor Stable would close by the 1920s but remain relatively undeveloped until Bashford Manor Mall was built in the 1970s. The mall met the wrecking ball in 2003.
Since we’re talking Louisville landmarks, east Louisville residents will note Copperfield was 2ndin the Bashford Manor Stakes of 1903.
Phar Mon w/Steve Brooks & Spy Charger w/Gary Mahon both carried a crushing 127 lbs. in their Bashford Manor Stakes wins. Wise Dan, reigning Horse of the Year, is balking at carrying 128 lbs. for Saturday’s co-featured Firecracker Handicap.
It’s the last Saturday of Churchill’s Spring Meet…it’s under the lights…and a grand, old race will be contested for the 112thconsecutive spring in Louisville.
Nice big field for Saturday feature at Churchill Downs tonight as 11 two-year-old fillies compete for honors in 113th running of the Debutante Stakes.
1..Mi Perlita (30-1 w/Marty Pedroza)…after running 9th of 10 at 74-1 in debut at Mr. Keene’s place, then 4thof eight at 100-1 at Churchill, shipped to happier hunting grounds in West by gawd Virginia & broke maiden @ 1-5 odds by 12 lengths. Go fig’ger. Quite a turnaround. Bred to be quick. On the improve. Inside post should help as she’ll be gunnin’ from the get-go. Looks like she shouldn’t swim past shallow waters though.
2. Silver Valley (12-1 w/Sean Bridgmohan)…purchased privately off big win at 16-1 at Lone Star Park in Dallas. Rated nice, ran decent speed figure. Certainly has all right to improve, leaning elsewhere though.
3. Richies Sweetheart (15-1 Joltin’ Joe Rocco)…Illinois-bred looked good winning on the snow tires at Arlington Park, was short odds in small field though. Also bred to be quick. Never take to deep a stand against trainer Larry Rivelli. Dude wins races. Second place finisher in her winning debut won next out. Should have no trouble switchin’ to God’s own dirt. 15-1, really? Tasty.
4. Yokohama Mama (30-1 Miggy Mena)…switched barns after low impact win at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. Only two things come outta Oklahoma…and neither of ‘em are high-end racehorses. Some turf breeding on the top side doesn’t appeal much either. Linda Rondstadt’s time has past & think Mama will find her best stride outside the Churchill brothers farm.
5. Medalbu (20-1 w/Joe Schneider)…low impact rider has only won 10 races once in a year since ’08 & he wasn’t even up when this filly won her debut at Pimlico. Rallied from far back w/bold run, gotta like that. Hard to get a line on this one shipping in from Charles Town. Stretching her legs from 4 ½ to 6 furlongs should help. If you’re willing to take a chance on the rider, really nice price on filly that could be pretty decent.
6. Deliver (15-1 w/Marcelino Torres)…first, gracious, are there a lot of riders named Torres. This one has one win in 40 starts this year & five in his two years of riding. That lone ’13 win was on this filly in here. Give it up for her, 5thstart already. Love ‘em when they old school run ‘em. Indiana bred has improved each time to the post & finally broke through at Indiana Downs. Speed figures give her a shot to juice a tri or super.
7. More Than Beauty (7-2 w/Calvin Borel)…another in a series of quiet meets for Calvin Borel. Calvin ain’t Calvin anymore, but his brother’s filly showed tons in her debut. Bred to love what’s asked of her Saturday night. Should have no trouble stretching out from 4 ½ to 6 furlongs. Workin’ like a good one. What’s not to like.
8. Teardrop (2-1 w/Rosie Napravnik)…beautiful gray filly was most impressive two-year-old filly winner of the meet so far. Rallied wide from far back & won off like potential champion. Her speed figure was wee bit under More Than Beauty, these two though figure to battle it out. Both look like the real deal. Plus, Steve Asmussen knows how to get two-year-olds ready to run.
9. Del Mar Holiday (8-1 w/Ricky Santana)…short odds when rallyin’ 3rdat Keeneland, then came back to win at similar odds at Churchill Downs. Like fact she doesn’t have to carry her track w/her, shows class. Bred to be quick & second in here from Asmussen barn. Napravnik jumps off though, you do get 8-1 though. Leanin’ slightly against.
10. Fiftyshadesofgold (3-1 w/Corey Lanerie)…Lanerie heatin’ up as he again attempts to run down Bridgmohan for leading rider. Blew doors off her maiden debut at Lone Star Park w/easily best speed figure in this field. Was 3-5, but defeating nine others in debut is legit. Can knock fact that she was runnin’ against Texas-breds, but speed figure says discount that. Can stalk from outside. If those odds sneak up, hard not to like fastest horse in any race especially when her style fits & she should be clear of traffic.
11. Sara Bay (10-1 w/Brian Hernandez)…just missed in debut at Philly Park, then won easy at 3-5 at Monmouth. Only four opponents in both races & she’ll double that today. Always like giving Hernandez long look at double digit odds. On the improve, bred for task. Only a $3k yearling, but she doesn’t know that.
And the belle of the Debutante Ball is:
#8 Teardrop (2-1)…no fan of Rosie on low-odds horses. Should be able to work clear enough to get home w/almost any kind of ride.
#5 Medalbu (20-1)…from out of the clouds w/no-name import jockey.
#3 Richies Sweetheart (15-1)…if she gets clean trip, every chance at really nice price.
#7 More The Beauty (7-2)…stayin’ w/the Calvin ain’t Calvin angle until proven otherwise.
Churchill Downs offers up the 75thconsecutive & 113thoverall running of the $100,000 Debutante Stakes on its penultimate weekend of racing for the 2013 Spring Meet.
Debutante Stakes debuted during 1895 Spring Meet & has been run at distances ranging from four to six furlongs through the generations. It’s been at its current six furlong since Richwoman won w/Sean Bridgmohan & Steve Asmussen in 2006. It was also six furlongs from 1986-90. Race was not held during Great Depression years of 1932-37.
Only the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Clark Handicap & Falls City Handicap are older on the Churchill Downs stakes schedule. Generations past will remember the Debutante Stakes was the traditional undercard feature on Kentucky Derby Day from 1950-81. Those were the days prior to tracks loading up stakes races on one or two big days.
That first Debutante Stakes was held on Tuesday, May 7…the day AFTER the 21st Kentucky Derby which, if math holds, was run on a Monday, May 6.
It was a memorable 21st Derby that year as it was the last ever run at the Derby’s original 1 ½ miles. Soup Perkins & Halma took that final 12 furlong Derby. Halma would also win the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs that year (when contested in the spring). He also won the prestigious Latonia Derby during his three-year-old season.
While the race has lacked much depth & quality in its past few years (as early two-year-old racing has fallen out of fashion), it was as recent as ’08 that Kentucky Oaks & Preakness heroine, Rachel Alexandra, contested the race. Rachel ran 2ndto Garden District & Robby Albarado that year.
Ten years earlier in 1998, the great Silverbulletday took the Debutante under Willie Martinez & remains the last of six fillies to take both the Debutante & Kentucky Oaks. Again, Rachel Alexandra was 2ndin her Debutante.
Flashing back again to the inaugural Debutante Stakes,Grover Clevelandwas midway through the second of his two, non-consecutive terms as President. Grover actually won the popular vote three elections in a row 1884, 1888 & 1892. Benjamin Harrison took the Electoral College vote in ’88 though.
History Channel “Pawn Stars” fans will remember the episode where a Grover Cleveland signed document was in play (turned out to be an auto pen though). Also learned that Grover married a 21-year-old daughter of a friend when he was president. That remains America’s youngest first lady.
1895 was yet another miserable season for the Louisville Colonels, then a Major League team in the 12-team National League. The Colonels would finish last with a 35-96 record, more than 50 games back of the Baltimore Orioles. In its defense, the Colonels only played 57 home games v. 74 on the dusty road.
Just two months prior to the first Debutante Stakes, Bill Morgan created Minotonette in Holyoke, Massachussetts. Huh? Minotonette is today known as…volleyball.
Race is a bit of who’s who…for Keeneland stakes races. Alcibiades won Debutante in 1929 & she titles Keeneland’s premiere two-year-old stakes race for fillies each autumn. Bewitch won her Debutante in 1947 & she titles a Keeneland stakes for older fillies & mares in the spring.
Blue Grass won the 1946 Debutante, but, well, Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes was run before Blue Grass (the filly) won her Debutante. Nice quirk nonetheless.
Enjoy these old Churchill Downs classic stakes races!! Shame there aren’t more that have stood the test of time.
Oh! Susanna Don't You Cry For Me, it's a post-Flag Day Saturday night card at Mr. Churchill's place featuring $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap.
The Steve Foster for older horses goes for 32nd consecutive year. Since its inception in 1982, it’s always been 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill dirt. Despite popular rumor, it has never been held at Camptown Races. It's also always been held during June of the Spring Meet with the exception of 1984, when it was held in August (during the second of Churchill's two years of summertime racing). Local favorites Mythical Ruler & Jimmy McKnight teamed up to win that one.
For the Beautiful Dreamer who created this race, congrats...it's evolved into a championship caliber event.
Last year, Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron The Greek nosed out eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Off the board was Fort Larned, who would upset Breeders’ Cup Classic five months later. Ron The Greek & Fort Larned are back again this year. Jeanie, With The Light Brown Hair did not show up in the entries though.
Blame used his Foster win in 2010 as springboard towards his win in Breeders' Cup Classic later that year. Curlin, the '08 winner was crowned Horse of the Year.Saint Liam '05, Awesome Again in '98 & Black Tie Affair '91 used their Foster wins to also win Breeders' Cup Classics later in those years. Awesome Again defeated Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm in both his Foster & Breeders' Cup Classic wins.
Mineshaft, '03 Horse of the Year, suffered the only defeat of his championship year in the Foster (like Wise Dan last year), being upset by Perfect Drift. Robby Albarado, three times the Foster hero, swung & missed w/Mineshaft that day. From '07-'09 though, Albarado was unbeatable in the Foster.
Recoup the Cash ('94-'95) & Vodika Collins ('82-'83) are the only repeat winners.
Flashing back again to a time when it was morning in America, as the first Stephen Foster Handicap field went to post that June day of 1982, Ronald Reagan had awoken the slumbering American economy & the Reagan Revolution was on.
An era of peace & prosperity would follow for more than 15 years. Not everything was wine & roses yet though, America was trudging through the 6th week of "Ebony & Ivory" being the #1 song. Mercy would come to the airwaves two weeks later. "Dallas" was in its heyday as America's most popular TV show. Ironically, "Dallas" returned to the airwaves a year ago w/new original episodes appearing on TNT. RIP J.R.
Just out in June of '82 were a couple of movies you might have heard of..."E.T." & "Poltergeist." It wasn't all milk & honey for Hollywood though..."Grease 2" was fresh in the theatres too.
The Lakers had just wrapped up the NBA title in six games over the '76'ers. Denny Crum's Cardinals had made theFinal Four, losing to Georgetown in New Orleans. Joe B. Hall's Wildcats had suffered a much crueler fate, losing to Middle Tennessee State (thus avoiding an NCAA showdown w/Louisville; the first dream game would take place the next season).
Joe Montana & the San Francisco 49'ers were Super Bowl champs. They'd rallied late to beat Cincinnati inSuper Bowl 16 in Detroit.
And, politically in that mid-June of 1982, somehow, 12 people masquerading as jurors found John Hinckley "Not Guilty" of shooting President Reagan. They must've missed the replay of the shooting shown a ga'zillion times on TV. The only insanity in that courtroom was in the jury box.
Hope you have a Great Flag Dayweek-long celebration!! Until then, My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night.
145th Running of the Belmont Stakes
Three-year-olds going 1 1/2 miles
$1,000,000 Grade 1
Morning breaks at Belmont Park w/more than 3 inches of rain greeting the day, although track should be drying throughout the Belmont Card.
1. Frac Daddy (30-1 w/Alan Garcia)…Kenny McPeek has won this dance before on horse just as hopeless as this one. Garcia was on board once prior, in maiden debut at Belmont last October (running 2ndat 12-1). Daddy was complete bust in Derby & only his moderate second in weak Arkansas Derby would constitute decent run in his three-year-old campaign. You deserve a lot more than 30-1 here.
2. Freedom Child (8-1 w/Luis Saez)…seriously, how tough was the second half of the early double last November 24 at Aqueduct? Orb won, Freedom Child was 2nd& Revolutionary was 3rd. Three Belmont starters, all 8-1 or less to win America’s last jewel of its Triple Crown. Lost all chance at a Derby run when gate crew messed him up in Wood Memorial. Came back five weeks later though & romped by 13 lengths in super sloppy Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. Shares same dad as Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon). Confirmed front runner, Saez has his work cut out getting him 1 ½ miles, but if track remains sloppy…
3. Overanalyze (12-1 w/John Velazquez)…outclassed in Derby following nice win over weak Arkansas Derby field at Oaklawn Park. First of five Todd Pletcher trainees ran lights out in only Belmont start, winning Grade 2 end of September last year at nearly 6-1. Certainly a better animal in New York than he’s been in Kentucky. Just sensing he’s cut below this cloth.
4. Giant Finish (30-1 w/Edgar Prado)…last minute Derby entrant wasn’t disgraced in Louisville, splitting the 19-horse field. New York-bred has never come close to beating salty bunch like he’ll see here & he figures to have company up front. Probably doesn’t disgrace himself again, that’ll be it though.
5. Orb (3-1 Joel Rosario)…not certain I can handle TV announcer Larry dropping another load in his drawers if Orb strikes the lead mid-stretch (as he did in Derby). Please save us the false dramatics. Any-who…Orb peaked Derby week & was much the best in Derby 139. Bloom came off his rose when taken out of his game in Preakness two weeks later. No reason to think he can’t rebound, but he’ll have to earn this one & not certain he’s going to like that last quarter mile as much as you might think.
6. Incognito (20-1 w/Irad Ortiz)…only start at Belmont was train wreck when uncomfortable in soupy Peter Pan Stakes. Spending all winter in New York for colt owned by sheiks doesn’t scream “potential.” Bit of a buzz horse, not seeing where it comes from though. Replacing Mike Luzzi w/hot local rider Ortiz will move him up though, alot & papa (A.P. Indy) won this race.
7. Oxbow (5-1 w/Gary Stevens)…the King is dead, long live the King (Wayne Lukas). Feel good story of the Sunshine Boys ruled the day in Baltimore after solid run in Derby. Zero chance he’ll be able to steal away on ultra slow pace in this one though. That song’s been played. Fine on breeding side, but has never paired up any wins. Has run really well in both jewels, suspect he might have a say at some point during stretch, but not near finish pole.
8. Midnight Taboo (30-1 w/Garret Gomez)…No Go Gomez accepts hopeless assignment on Pletcher trainee #2. Only a moderate maiden win at odds-on in three career starts. Bred to go a mile or less, but his owner is dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, so insert Belmont fever here. Candidate to see ‘em all that long, last quarter mile.
9. Revolutionary (9-2 w/Javier Castellano)…what can I say, my Derby pick’s 3rdplace finish five weeks ago won my Derby 139 trifecta. Unbridled joy remains. Rallied from 17thin Louisville w/typical Calvin Borel rail job. Never came close to threatening Orb though. Knock on him has always been is he good enough at to win at the very top? Bred short on top, but long on bottom. Borel dumped for New York rider Castellano on Pletcher entrant #3. Bet against Castellano away from Empire state, but he’s at home now. Just think he’ll come up w/minor prize again.
10. Will Take Charge (20-1 w/Jon Court)…can he carry all his excuses for lousy Derby & Preakness runs w/him & prevail? Lots of excuses. Two nice wins at Oaklawn this spring & Court gets back on board. All three of this colts wins have seen Court aboard, but rider has precious little experience on Big Sandy. Breeding doesn’t move him up & this guy looks a lot like Wayne Lukas ’13 version of last year’s Optimizer (ya’ can’t win ‘em if you’re not in ‘em, so…) Wouldn’t be a shocker & you’ll be paid well for your faith.
11. Vyjack (20-1 w/Julien Leparoux)..why would oft-tainted trainer Rudy Rodriguez bring Leparoux out from California to ride this fella? Came into play late on Derby day w/sloppy track expected to favor him. It didn’t, he ran awful 18th. Another who spent the winter in New York beating up lesser lights. Could see it happening, but can’t understand the rider angle & certainly wouldn’t want to see those odds dip anywhere below 20-1.
12. Palace Malice (15-1 w/Mike Smith)…blinkers on put him into jet stream Derby Day & he set race up for deep closers. Hood comes back off for Belmont. Has some game & some competitive sprit, like that. Pops (Curlin) just missed in Belmont & mom was turfer. Pletcher pony #4 looks pretty light on credential for this one.
13. Unlimited Budget (8-1 w/Rosie Napravnik)…giving Rosie shot to join Julie Krone as upset Belmont winner. Ran 3rdin Oaks, but that was w/Castellano aboard & he’s low-to-no percentage rider at Churchill Downs. Pletcher’s 5th& final entrant could be his second filly winner in the classic, joining ’07 Kentucky Oaks heroine Rags to Riches, who upset Curlin that Belmont. Style fits this field & she uncorked a great one w/Napravnik aboard this winter at Fair Grounds. Would like to get better than 8-1 on her, but she’s got real shot.
14. Golden Soul (10-1 w/Robby Albarado)…Bogart & Bergman had Paris, I’ll always have Golden Soul tripping my light fantastic in Derby exacta & trifecta. Thank YOU Dallas & Robby!! Did get flawless ride & pace set-up in Louisville & how often does that repeat? Outside post in short run to first turn won’t help, but will keep clear of traffic concerns. Has never failed to move forward in any stretch run of his six career starts, only once though did he pass ‘em all & that was December 30 in New Orleans. Robby’s won alot of big distance races over Belmont race track. Absent change of tactics, e.g. getting into his race much quicker, sad suspicion he’s up against it in this Belmont Stakes.
And the lights on Broadway will shine brightest for…
13. Unlimited Budget (8-1)…flawless until uninspired Kentucky Oaks 3rd. Laying that on Javier Castellano & he’s replaced today by Rosie Napravnik. Can this be first-ever filly to win Triple Crown race w/lady rider? Damn, that breeding on the bottom gives me pause, she might just open up enough to last late.
14. Golden Soul (10-1)…wanted to put him on top, wanted to toss ‘em. Loyalty will get ya’ killed in handicapping usually. Loyalty wins out here though. He’s as legit as any of ‘em in here & his recent form is as good as any other (save Orb). Robby’ll give ‘em smooth trip & he’s never failed to be moving up late.
6. Incognito (20-1)…sons of A.P. Indy must get hard looks in races like this. His resume is painfully thin & his last on sloppy track was awful. If you can forgive that last one, 20-1 w/one of New York’s rising star riders ain’t so crazy Doc.
5. Orb (3-1)…came into Derby great & ran great. Came into Preakness better than ever & tanked. Know one thing…Rosario will have him racing wide & on the outside as quickly as he can. He’ll get his run & he’s proven to be of highest quality. Thinkin’ he’s rounding out of his best form, but will give his all (much like the Preakness when he never quit when hopelessly beaten late).
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.