• FIRST EXTENDED STAY IN KENTUCKY PAYS OFF FOR CHANNING HILL
Andrew Stone’s Concise (GB) has been knocking on the door of success in her three starts in this country, and her connections are hopeful the door will swing open in Saturday’s 30th running of the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) for 3-year-old fillies.
“She’s an improving filly,” said Jane Buchanan, racing manager for trainer Graham Motion’s stable. “She breezed Saturday at Fair Hill (Md.) and shipped here after the work.”
A daughter of Lemon Drop Kid out of a Diesis (GB) mare, Concise broke her maiden on an all-weather surface in her second start at Kempton Park in England but has not won since. She joined the Motion barn in early summer and made her U.S. debut at Saratoga with a fast-closing second against allowance company.
“There are more opportunities over here for a filly to earn black type,” Buchanan said.
In her U.S. stakes debut, she finished fourth beaten less than a length in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga and in her most recent start was third, beaten 1½ lengths, in the Garden City (G1).
Edgar Prado, who rode Concise for the first time in the Garden City, will have the mount Saturday. Prado and Motion teamed to win the 2003 QE II with Film Maker.
FIRST EXTENDED STAY IN KENTUCKY PAYS OFF FOR CHANNING HILL
Jockey Channing Hill is riding his first full meet at Keeneland this fall, and his decision to come to Central Kentucky already has paid dividends with a victory aboard Poker Player in Sunday’s Bourbon (G3).
“This was something I had always wanted to do,” said Hill, a 26-year-old native of Grand Island, Neb. “I had shipped in a few times and one spring (2009) I rode a horse for Roger Attfield (Society’s Chairman) that beat Parading in an allowance race that should have been a Grade 2.”
Hill rode his first race at Columbus, Neb., when he was 16 and then went to Prairie Meadows in 2004.
“In January 2005 after I graduated from high school, I went to New York,” Hill said of a circuit that for the most part has been his home base since. “Once you are in New York, you never really get to leave, but I went to Chicago last year and that opened up more opportunities.”
Hill won 18 races last summer at Arlington Park and this year won 47 to finish sixth in the rider standings. Many of the horses he won on were trained by Wayne Catalano, who also trains Poker Player.
“Wayne asked me to go down to Kentucky Downs and he was just on fire down there,” Hill said of Catalano, who followed his leading trainer title at Arlington Park with the crown at Kentucky Downs. “People told me that I sure must like riding at Kentucky Downs, and I told them that it was the horses that I liked being on. You get a lot of notice with four-win days.”
After the Keeneland meet, Hill plans to return to New York for the winter but not before a quick trip to California and this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita with Poker Player.
“I never have ridden in the Breeders’ Cup,” Hill said. “I spent three months at Santa Anita early in my career and made some great contacts. I met (trainer) Patrick Biancone and a few years later when I rode at Monmouth he had some real nice horses there that I got on.”
Hill has one other big event coming up thanks to another connection he made in Chicago. He is engaged to Catalano’s daughter, Shelbi, with a wedding expected in June or July.
“I met Shelbi last year at Arlington Park and she really turned my life around,” Hill said.
So who is most responsible for making inroads into the Catalano barn, the rider or the daughter?
“Shelbi has given me a big leg up,” Hill said with a laugh. “I feel like I should give her 25 percent. She’s the best agent I’ve ever had.”
Scheduled to be at Keeneland on Friday are professional team ropers Chad Masters and Charly Crawford. Masters is a two-time world champion header. Crawford is a six-time qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo. On Oct. 18-20, they will offer a roping clinic at Allday Farm in Shelbyville, Ky. Both will compete during the NFR in Las Vegas in December.