The ninth running of the Winning Colors will be run under the lights at Churchill Downs as part of the Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program. It will be co-featured Saturday evening with the 24th running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) and the 36th running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII). The Winning Colors is scheduled as Race 6 at 8:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).
“We’re here on our track and the timing is good,” Margolis said. “There really weren’t a lot of other options. She’s had a couple of good races over this track and the distance is right.”
Good Deed will break from the rail Saturday under Shaun Bridgmohan. It will be the fourth time in her eighth career start the 3-year-old bay daughter of Broken Vow will break from the inside post.
“She’s won from the rail before,” Margolis said. “She’s going to break well and put herself into the race, but she doesn’t need to be on the lead. We’ll just have to see how it goes when they break and let Shaun make the decision.”
Good Deed’s second in the Eight Belles was flattered by Contested’s Memorial Day win in the Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park.
“She (Contested) is a very good horse and looks like she’s a very tough sprinter,” Margolis said.
Good Deed’s main challengers could be the trio of horses trained by Bret Calhoun.
Martin Racing Stable LLC and Morgan Thoroughbred LLC’s Beat the Blues finished second in the Winning Colors last year to Sassy Image and enters this year’s edition off a win in the Carousel at Oaklawn Park.
Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Speedacious is coming into the Winning Colors with a five-race winning streak. She most recently won an allowance race on Churchill’s Opening Night program on April 28.
Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gleaming finished third to her stablemate in the Carousel, but has recorded wins this year in the American Beauty and Spring Fever at Oaklawn.
SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN WORKS THREE-EIGHTS FOR EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP – Barbara Hunter’s homebred Snow Top Mountain stretched her legs this morning over the firm Matt Winn Turf Course and breezed three furlongs in :38.40 around the dogs in preparation for Saturday’s 36th running of the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII).
“She doing really well,” trainer Tom Proctor said via phone from his barn at Arlington Park. “It’s a pretty tough race and she’s not a world beater, but she’s a pretty nice mare.”
Snow Top Mountain will be seeking her second graded-stakes win of the year in Saturday’s Early Times Mint Julep. In February at Gulfstream Park, the 5-year-old gray/roan daughter of Najran won the Suwannee River (GIII) on a turf course rated as “good.” In her most recent start, she finished seventh of nine in the Hillsborough (GIII) at Tampa Bay.
Snow Top Mountain was ridden in both of those starts by Jose Lezcano, but Shane Sellers will have the mount Saturday.
“(Sellers) seems to be putting horses in the right spot,” Proctor said. “If they can win, he’s been winning on them.”
Sellers had recorded seven wins from 42 mounts entering Thursday’s action.
Proctor is hopeful Snow Top Mountain will run like her half-sister Keertana, who won the Louisville Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs last spring against males.
“On her best day, (Snow Top Mountain) is pretty close to Keertana,” Proctor said.
The Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, which is scheduled as Race 9 at 9:39 p.m., will more than likely be run without the top weight Tapitsfly. Trainer Dale Romans said Thursday morning he will likely opt to run Tapitsfly in the Just A Game (GI) at Belmont Park on June 9.
NOBLE’S PROMISE TO TRY FOR REPEAT IN SATURDAY’S ARISTIDES – J C M Racing LLC’s Noble’s Promise, a Grade-I winner with more than $1 million to his name, will seek to become just the second two-time winner of the Aristides (GIII) on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The 24th running of the $100,000-added Aristides is scheduled to be run under the lights as Race 7 at 9:05 p.m. The other two-time winner of the event is Bet On Sunshine, who was victorious in the race in 2000-01.
“We were going to skip it, but then it came up like it did,” said Phil Bauer, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek. “There are some nice horses in there, but there are no world beaters.”
Noble’s Promise, who won the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland as a 2-year-old, breezed four furlongs on the fast main track at Churchill Downs on May 28 in :48.60. Corey Lanerie was aboard for the work and will have the call Saturday.
“The work went well and the horse is doing well,” Bauer said. “He’s feeling good, eating good and his coat looks good.”
Noble’s Promise, a 5-year-old bay son of Cuvee, will enter the Aristides off a fifth-place finish in the Cannon Shell at Belmont Park. The race was taken off the turf and run at six furlongs on the main track.
“I think you can throw the last race out,” Bauer said. “He was on the inside and the track was muddy and I don’t think he cared for it. If he runs back to his race at Keeneland (third behind Successful Dan and Golden Yank in a seven-furlong allowance on the Polytrack on April 6), then he’ll be right there.”
SPRING MEET LEADERS AT A GLANCE – Through 19 days of the 39-day Spring Meet, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, trainers Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen and Dale Romans and owners Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. are the leaders in their respective categories at Churchill Downs. Here is a look at the leaders entering Thursday’s action:
1. Shaun Bridgmohan (26-for-111, 23% win-percentage, $978,597 in earnings)
2. Corey Lanerie (24-for-112, 21%, $759,055)
3. Calvin Borel (17-for-109, 16%, $420,045)
3. Miguel Mena (17-for-94, 18%, $531,041)
5. Leandro Goncalves (14-for-86, 16%, $376,397)
1. Tom Amoss (8-for-27, 30%, $215,759)
1. Steve Asmussen (8-for-42, 19%, $476,718)
1. Dale Romans (8-for-56, 14%, $1,221,193)
4. Bret Calhoun (7-for-23, 30%, $238,744)
4. Wayne Catalano (7-for-20, 35%, $265,172)
4. Brad Cox (7-for-17, 41%, $113,853)
1. Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. (7-for-18, 39%, $119,653)
2. John Oxley (6-for-15, 40%, $237,961)
3. Paula Haughey’s PTK LLC (5-for-15, 33%, $88,366)
4. Billy, Donna and Justin Hays (4-for-38, 11%, $89,749)
4. Ken and Sarah Ramsey (4-for-23, 17%, $196,444)
BARN TALK – Heisman Trophy winner, NFL Hall of Famer and Louisville-native Paul Hornung is the co-owner of Titletown Five, who will make his career debut in Friday’s fifth race at Churchill Downs. Trainer Wayne Lukas said the horse was named for the city of Green Bay’s nickname of “Titletown” and Hornung’s number, five.
Titletown Five, a dark bay/brown son of Tiznow, is out of D’Wildcat Speed, who was named Horse of the Year in Puerto Rico in 2003 and won the Rampart (GII) at Gulfsteam Park at age 5.
Post time for the fifth race Friday is 4:50 p.m. …
The biggest summer parties in Louisville return to Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 2 at 6 p.m. as the home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes back its wildly-popular nighttime racing series, “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.
The concept for the 11-race program, that includes a stakes tripleheader, will be Remix, featuring bold colors with a nod to the 1980s. Saturday night’s season premiere will showcase the return of the popular VJ 2nd Nature, who will entertain paddock party-goers from 8:30 p.m. to midnight, and Cincinnati-based cover band Off The Hook, who will play from 4-8:30 p.m.
Admission gates will open at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m. …
Nominations for the four graded stakes races to be run on Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs will close Saturday, June 2. The races, which will be run under the lights as part of the “Downs After Dark” racing program on Saturday, June 16, include the 31st running of the $400,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the 37th running of the $150,000-added Fleur de Lis (GII) for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the 43rd running of the $100,000-added Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course and the 15th running of the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
WORKTAB – Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Belmont (GI) hopeful Optimizer breezed five furlongs on the fast main track at Churchill Downs in 1:00.60 for trainer Wayne Lukas. It was the third fastest of 19 at the distance Thursday morning.
Working under Jon Court, Optimizer recorded fractions of :13.20, :25.60, :37.40, :48.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20. Lukas was pleased with the workout and said Optmizer will head to Belmont Park on Tuesday. …
Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day, breezed four furlongs on the main track in :50 for trainer Dale Romans. The work ranked 29th of 56 at the distance. …
Jerry Namy’s Shared Property, winner of the Arlington Washington Futurity (GIII) last year and most recently fifth in the Louisiana Derby (GII), breezed four furlongs in :51.60 for trainer Tom Amoss. The work ranked 50th of 56 at the distance. …
WEATHER – Thursday: increasing clouds with a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 5 p.m., 81. Thursday night: showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm between midnight and 4 a.m., 60. Friday: mostly cloudy with a 30% chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms, 67. Saturday: partly sunny with a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 74. Sunday: mostly sunny, 81. Monday: partly sunny with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, 84. Tuesday: mostly sunny, 83. Wednesday: mostly sunny, 80.