Friday, November 16, 2012
CHURCHILL DOWNS BARN NOTES - NOV. 15, 2012
• CENTRE COURT WILL ATTEMPT TO FOLLOW IN MARKETING MIX’S FOOTSTEPS
• PLETCHER SEEKING COMMONWEALTH TURF – MRS. REVERE DOUBLE
• ROMANS TAKING TWO SHOTS AT COMMONWEALTH TURF
“It worked out well last year,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “We were very happy with her in the QEII (after finishing second to Dayatthespa). I wouldn’t have traded spots with anyone at the quarter pole.”
Centre Court scored her first graded-stakes victory in the Regret (GIII) at Churchill Downs in the spring. She followed up that victory with a win in Saratoga’s Lake George (GII). After finishing second to Stephanie’s Kitten in the Lake Placid (GII), Centre Court was given a break to prepare for her first try against Grade I company.
“We gave her two races at Saratoga and wanted to have her at 100-percent for the Queen Elizabeth,” Arnold said. “It’s a Grade I and at our home track. I think we had her as good as she could be for that race. She still has room for improvement. She’s only a 3-year-old.”
A dark bay or brown daughter of Smart Strike, Centre Court made her career debut at Churchill Downs and finished fifth in a maiden special on the main track. Since then, the G. Watts Humphrey Jr. homebred has remained on the turf and has yet to be worse than second on the grass in seven starts.
“The good ones like that are few and far between,” Arnold said. “You don’t find ones like her often that show that kind of consistency. She’s run well at Churchill, Gulfstream, Keeneland and Saratoga and really has never run a bad race. It’s a combination of talent and the will to do it.”
Arnold said the Mrs. Revere is far from an easy race for the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
“It’s an extremely competitive race,” Arnold said. “It’s the last chance to face 3-year-old fillies, so everyone with a good 3-year-old is going to take a shot. (Michael) Matz has two good fillies in the race (Somali Lemonade and Colonial Flag), Todd (Pletcher’s) filly (Peace Preserver) is improving and Chris Block’s filly (Leading Astray) hasn’t done anything wrong.”
The Mrs. Revere will be the final race of Centre Court’s 3-year-old campaign. She will be given the winter off and then be pointed to the Jenny Wiley (GI) at Keeneland in April.
PLETCHER SEEKING COMMONWEALTH TURF – MRS. REVERE DOUBLE – Trainer Todd Pletcher will attempt to sweep the two 3-year-old turf stakes on Saturday night at Churchill Downs when he sends out Finale in the Commonwealth Turf (GIII) and Peace Preserver in the Mrs. Revere (GII).
Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Finale enters the Commonwealth off a sixth-place finish in the Hawthorne Derby (GIII) over a turf course labeled as “soft.” Prior to that race, he ran 10th in the Equalize at Saratoga in his first start of 2012.
“Finale was one of the many horses that ran at Hawthorne under adverse conditions – a driving rainstorm and very soft turf,” Pletcher said. “I thought, considering he probably didn’t love the going, he ran pretty well. Hopefully the third start off the layoff will be his best one.”
Finale will be ridden by John Velazquez and break from post four.
Alto Racing LLC’s Peace Preserver also will have Velazquez aboard Saturday night. A bay daughter of War Front, Peace Preserver exits a 6 ½-length victory in the Pebbles at Belmont Park.
“We thought Peace Preserver was pretty impressive when she won the Pebbles,” Pletcher said. “She seems to really be catching her best form right now and maturing and learning to settle in her races.”
Peace Preserver ran with blinkers in three of her first four races of 2012. Since removing the blinkers for her allowance score at Monmouth in July, Peace Preserver has two wins and two seconds in four starts.
“The key was getting her to relax and part of that was taking the blinkers off,” Pletcher said. “I think that was helpful in getting her off the bridle in the first part of the race.”
The Commonwealth Turf will be run as Race 7 on Saturday night at 7:32 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Mrs. Revere will go as Race 9 at 8:36 p.m.
ROMANS TAKING TWO SHOTS AT COMMONWEALTH TURF – Trainer Dale Romans entered Thursday with a share of the lead in the trainer’s standings and he will look to continue his success at the Fall Meet when he saddles Finnegans Wake and Quick Wit in Saturday night’s Commonwealth Turf (GIII).
Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake scored a victory over the Matt Winn Turf Course in June and went on to be third in the Virginia Derby (GIII) and second in the Secretariat (GI). In his most recent start, and first race against older horses, Finnegans Wake ran fourth behind Point of Entry in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) at Belmont.
“It’s good that he’s getting away from those older horses,” trainer Dale Romans said. “Grade Is against older horses are pretty tough races, but I think he held his own. That was over a (yielding) racetrack and I don’t think that’s his best surface. He’s also a victim of the pace and needs some pace in front of him. He should get more pace (in the Commonwealth) than he did going 1 ½ miles (in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic).”
Finnegans Wake will break from post 13 under Robby Albarado.
Romans’ other entrant is Michael Bruder’s Quick Wit, winner of the off-the-turf National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (GII) at Saratoga in August. A 3-year-old dark bay or brown son of Sharp Humor, Quick Wit enters the Commonwealth following a ninth-place finish in the Hawthorne Derby (GIII) over a “soft” grass course.
“I think you can draw a line through that race,” Romans said. “He’s been doing really well since that race and he had a nice work here the other day (five furlongs on the main track in 1:02.80).”
Quick Wit will break from post eight under Victor Lebron.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Homeboykris, winner of the 2009 Champagne (GI), won Wednesday’s first race at Churchill Downs in his first start at the Louisville track since finishing 16th in the 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) … Trainer Tom Proctor said Niall Racing’s Temeraine will make his next start in the $100,000-added River City Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25 … Trainer Ken McPeek said Frac Daddy, Java’s War and Taken by the Storm are under consideration for the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) on Nov. 24 … $2 Budweiser and Bud Light drink specials and country music by Louisville native Olivia Henken highlight this week’s Friday Happy Hours from 3-5 p.m. in the new Paddock Plaza adjacent to the saddling paddock and Gate 1. Henken, celebrated for her high energy and charisma, is promoting her debut Nashville recording “The Ride” and is best known by locals for her single “Derbytown,” which pays homage to Louisville and the Kentucky Derby … Churchill Downs will welcome outstanding Metro Louisville area high school students who are members of the 2012 Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars initiative with a reception at the track on Friday. The students will be joined by their parents, family members and officials of their respective schools to celebrate their participation in the track’s Governor’s Scholars Program, an initiative launched in 2001 that funds the participation in the overall Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program by students from Jefferson County and portions of surrounding counties who have overcome personal adversity and challenges to become high achievers in their personal lives and academic pursuits. One student is chosen from each of Jefferson County’s legislative districts, some of which extend into surrounding counties, to benefit from the Churchill Downs Governor’s Scholars Program. They will spend a day at the races in the Trophy Room.
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