Monday, April 27 2009

Kentucky Derby 135 Notes (4.26.09)

ADVICE/DUNKIRK/JOIN IN THE DANCE – At Churchill Downs, assistant trainer Mike McCarthy had two of trainer Todd Pletcher’s candidates for the 135th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) out for exercise early on a beautiful morning beneath the Twin Spires.

With the first set, shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m., Join in the Dance and exercise rider Kevin Willey took a mile and three-eighths tour of oval, galloping along in the dark with only a few other Thoroughbreds joining them on the mile oval.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 27, 2009) – Unbeaten Eclipse Award champion Zenyatta, a finalist for ‘Horse of the Year’ honors in 2008, is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday, April 27 to run in the $350,000-added Louisville Distaff (Grade II) on Friday’s Kentucky Oaks Day program at Churchill Downs.

Trainer John Shirreffs confirmed Zenyatta’s participation via telephone Sunday afternoon and Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss’ 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry is scheduled to board a Louisville-bound plane after leaving Shirreffs’ barn at Santa Anita on Monday.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 26, 2009) – Don Benge’s Wise River survived an early pace duel with Dubious Miss and then fended off a challenge from favored Inca King to win Sunday’s $56,640 allowance feature at Churchill Downs by 3 ¼ lengths.

In giving jockey Jamie Theriot his fourth victory of the afternoon, Wise River covered the 1 1/16 miles on a “firm” Matt Winn Turf Course in a course-record time of 1:39.83. The previous record was 1:40.70 set by Quite a Bride on June 6, 2007.

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Kentucky Juvenile Lures Precocious Field of Nine

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 26, 2009) – Six debut winners at Keeneland, a record-setting filly from Maryland and a West Coast invader highlight a field of nine 2-year-olds entered Sunday for Thursday’s 21st running of the $100,000-added Kentucky Juvenile (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

The five-furlong event, which has been won seven times by fillies, serves as the first graded stakes of 2009 for 2-year-olds. Five fillies have been entered for Thursday’s race, including Jealous Again and Gator Prowl.

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Sunday, April 26 2009

Kentucky Derby 135 Notes (4.25.09)

ADVICE/DUNKIRK/JOIN IN THE DANCE – Trainer Todd Pletcher sent his chief Derby threat Dunkirk through a five-panel drill in company at the training center at Palm Meadows in Florida on Saturday morning – and he was tickled with the outcome.

Clockers gave the Unbridled’s Song colt a final time of 1:01.05 for the drill, while his workmate – the 3-year-old stakes-placed Munnings – was given a time of 1:01.25.

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Kentucky Oaks 135 Notes (4.25.09)

BE FAIR/TWEETER – Thomas Van Meter and Charles Kidder's Be Fair galloped an unspecified distance Saturday morning at Churchill Downs according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Lukas said the filly will work “possibly tomorrow” in her final major move leading up to Oaks 135.

Marylou Whitney Stables' Tweeter also galloped Saturday morning and Lukas said Tweeter will work Monday or Tuesday for a possible Oaks run.

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Unbeaten Hull Wins Derby Trial As Churchill Downs Opens 52-Day Spring Meet

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 25, 2009) – Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s undefeated Hull ran his winning streak to three with a four-length victory over Kensei in the 85th running of the $112,000 Derby Trial (Grade III) on opening day of the 52-day Churchill Downs Spring Meet.

Trained by Dale Romans, who posted his 20th career stakes victory at Churchill Downs, Hull swept past dueling leaders Silver City and Checklist at the head of the lane and then repulsed a late bid by Kensei, who was ridden by Robby Albarado.

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Saturday, April 25 2009

135th Derby,Oaks Launch Historic Churchill Downs Spring Meet That Introduces Night Racing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 24, 2009) – Historic Churchill Downs will raise the curtain on Saturday, April 25 on its historic 52-day Spring Meet that begins with the 135th renewals of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), but will also be marked by first sessions of night racing in the legendary track’s history and the introduction of Mark Johnson as track announcer and the first international voice to provide the on-track call of the “Run for the Roses.”

Johnson, the British commentator who succeeds the late Luke Kruytbosch as announcer, will welcome racing fans who gather beneath the track’s historic Twin Spires on Saturday for an 11-race program opening day program that get underway with its first race at 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT). The racing program is topped by the 85th running of the $100,000-added Derby Trial (Grade III), a 7 ½-furlong race for 3-year-olds that is the final significant prep race for the May 2 Kentucky Derby.

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Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks 135 Notes (4.24.09)

Friday, April 24, 2009

ADVICE/DUNKIRK/JOIN IN THE DANCE – Two of the three Todd Pletcher Kentucky Derby hopefuls galloped Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Tampa Bay Derby (Grade III) runner-up Join in the Dance galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Kevin Willey. With $90,000 in graded earnings, Join in the Dance would need one defection for the list of possible Kentucky Derby starters to gain a spot in the starting gate.

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Public Unveiling of Barbaro Memorial Set for Sunday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m.

What: The public unveiling of a larger-than-life bronze statue to celebrate the career of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro will take place at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

When: Sunday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m. ET (Churchill Downs’ grandstand gates open at 11 a.m. and the first live race is 12:45 p.m.)

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Friday, April 24 2009

Churchill Downs to Unveil New High-Definition Graphics Package for 2009 Spring Meet

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 24, 2009) – Churchill Downs, which became the first racetrack in the United States to offer simulcasting in high definition (“HD”) last year, will unveil a new graphics package designed specifically for the HD experience when racing returns on Saturday, April 25.

“We were very pleased with the reception that our high-definition signal received last fall, and the positive feedback from customers both on-track and at simulcasting outlets across the country convinced us to move forward with this redesign,” said Kevin Flanery, senior vice president for Churchill Downs Incorporated. “Our customers were instrumental in helping to create this new look for the Churchill Downs signal through their recommendations and suggestions. Our ambition is to provide them with the best possible experience when wagering with Churchill Downs, and we believe the new design of and added information within this new HD graphics package will move us closer to that goal.”

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In a remarkable seven-year span, newly minted Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won three Kentucky Derbys and missed by the tiniest nose in another. And now it’s been seven years since he’s been to the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in May.

That could change this year for the silver-haired quipster as he heads into the 135th “Run for the Roses.” His Pioneerof the Nile will be one of the favorites for the Grade I, $2-million classic at Churchill Downs on May 2. A fourth victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands would tie Baffert with H.J. “Dick” Thompson and Baffert contemporary D. Wayne Lukas for second-place among Derby-winning trainers.

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