Friday, June 05 2009

Churchill Downs Barn Notes (6.5.09)

WILL MINE THAT BIRD FLY HIGH IN THE BELMONT? OPINIONS VARY – The question of the day Friday morning on the Churchill Downs backstretch centered on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (Grade I) and Mine That Bird’s quest for two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

A sampling of trainers seemed to indicate that “Bird” would be the word, but there were some reservations from others. The sampling of the responses as to who wins the Belmont:

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, June 4, 2009) – Early arrivals to Churchill Downs on Saturday will receive a free button to commemorate Mine That Bird’s victory in Kentucky Derby 135 (while supplies last) as the 3-year-old gelding attempts to land two-thirds of horse racing’s Triple Crown in the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill Downs will open admission gates just before 11:30 a.m. (all times Eastern Daylight Time) on Saturday with the first of 11 live races scheduled for 12:45 p.m. The simulcast of Belmont Park’s 13-race card will begin at 11:35 a.m., with the $1 million Belmont (Grade I) scheduled as Race 11 at approximately 6:27 p.m.

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Blue Lion Wins Thursday Whitey Pryor Classic at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, June 4, 2009) – Wayne Lyster III, Brent Rice and Helen Laughery’s Blue Lion swept past pacesetter Cross Village in the upper stretch and drew off by 3 ½ lengths to win Thursday’s featured $50,200 Whitey Pryor Classic at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Rusty Arnold, Blue Lion covered the mile on a “good” main track in 1:38.10.

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Churchill Downs Barn Notes (6.4.09)

WITH 4,000 VICTORIES, ALBARADO AIMS FOR NEXT MILESTONE – With one milestone behind him, jockey Robby Albarado took time out the other morning to reflect on some of the magic moments en route to 4,000 career victories, mark he achieved at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

“Obviously, the very first one I won in 1990,” Albarado said of One Little Point at Evangeline Downs on June 29 as he began to click off a top five.

“The other four would have to be with Curlin and Mineshaft. Those were great moments there and getting my first Grade I was pretty special with Joyeux Danseur here in the (1998) Early Times (now Woodford Reserve) Turf Classic.”

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Thursday, June 04 2009

Pure Clan Among Four Graded Stkes Winners In Saturday’s $100,000

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 3, 2009) – Lewis Lakin’s Pure Clan, a model of consistency on both turf and dirt throughout her career, headlines a stellar cast entered for Saturday’s 33rd running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep (Grade III) to be run at 1 1/16th miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs.

The Early Times Mint Julep, which goes as the 10th race on the 11-race card that opens with a 12:45 p.m. (EDT) post time, has attracted four graded stakes winners to its field of seven fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

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Fans Vie for Cash Prizes, Trip to Vegas in Churchill Downs’ “Who’s the Champ?”

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, June 3, 2009) – Horse racing fans will vie for lucrative cash prizes and coveted berths in the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship XI when the popular Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Tournament returns to Churchill Downs every Thursday and Sunday in June.

The twice-weekly contest will feature $4,000 in prizes each day, ranging from $1,400 for first place to $150 for eighth.

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Tuesday, June 02 2009

Churchill Downs Barn Notes 6.1.09

MINE THAT BIRD WORKS HALF-MILE IN :50 FOR BELMONT – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird put in his final major preparation for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (Grade I) by working a half-mile in :50 under jockey Calvin Borel on Monday at Churchill Downs.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) came on the fast Churchill Downs track shortly after 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) when the track reopened after the morning renovation break. Borel backtracked Mine That Bird to the frontside and then loped around to the backstretch for the work that clockers caught in splits of :13.80, :26.60, :38.40, the half in :50 with a five-eighths gallop out time of 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.

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Churchill Downs Set to Race Under the Stars as Night Racing Debuts on Friday, June 19

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 1, 2009) – Churchill Downs will conduct the first of three historic “Downs After Dark” night racing sessions on Friday, June 19, as the home of the Kentucky Derby turns up the lights for the first time in its 135-year history. After the spectacular premier of the “Downs After Dark” racing experience, two additional sessions will follow on Friday, June 26, and Thursday, July 2, with the latter serving as a first-of-its-kind kickoff for Independence Day festivities and the closing weekend of the 2009 Spring Meet.

Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. (all times EDT) for each session of night racing, with first post for each 11-race card scheduled for 6 p.m.

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Monday, June 01 2009

Churchill Downs Barn Notes (5.31.09)

OWNERS DROP IN TO CHECK OUT MINE THAT BIRD – Mine That Bird’s entourage grew a bit Sunday morning as Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach, the New Mexico-based co-owners of the Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner, made a quick stop in Louisville en route to New York for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (GI).

“We’re leaving later today for New York so we can get settled in and ready for everything,” said Allen, who never has been to Belmont Park where Mine That Bird will try to take down the 1 ½-mile final jewel of the Triple Crown.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 31, 2009) – Silverton Hill, LLC’s St. Joe, who spotted the field several lengths after breaking last in a five-furlong turf sprint, rocketed past five rivals in the final eighth of a mile to win Sunday’s featured $43,875 Long Suit Purse at Churchill Downs for 3-year-olds and up by a length over Lord Robyn.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, St. Joe had only one horse beat at the top of the stretch as he swung seven-wide for clear sailing. At the sixteenth pole, Lord Robyn had opened a daylight advantage only to be rapidly overtaken by St. Joe, who covered the five furlongs on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in :56.84.

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Sunday, May 31 2009

Big Day for Albarado As He Earns 4,000th Career Win, Then Guides Bold Start to Aristides Victory

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 30, 2009) – A landmark day for jockey Robby Albarado got even better when he guided Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start to a 2 ¾-length victory over Semaphore Man in Saturday’s 21st running of the $112,600 Aristides (Grade III) for sprinters at Churchill Downs.

One race earlier, Albarado became the 56th North American jockey to reach the 4,000-victory milestone when he rode Barbara Hunter’s Keertana ($5.20) to victory in the ninth race at Churchill Downs.

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Hightap Turns Back Heavily Favored Luster to Win 35th Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 30, 2009) – Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ltd.’s Hightap ran down heavily favored Luster in mid-stretch and drew away to an impressive 3 ¼-length win in Saturday’s 35th running of the Grade III $111,500 Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, Hightap followed Luster around the far turn as the two moved in tandem after Lady’s Laughter, who had assumed command leaving the backstretch.

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