The 3-year-old son of Successful Appeal arrived at Churchill Downs on a flight from California on Tuesday, but made a quick turnaround to beat heavy rain forecast for the region over the weekend and breezed six furlongs over a fast track in 1:17.20 on Friday morning. Fractional times for Twice the Appeal were :13.40 for the opening furlong, :51 for the half-mile and five furlongs in 1:03.60. He covered his final quarter mile in :26.20.
SPECIAL TRAINING PERIOD FOR KENTUCKY DERBY AND OAKS HORSES BEGINS SATURDAY – A special training period devoted exclusively to contenders for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) is scheduled to start Saturday, April 23.
Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford, a narrow loser in the $1 million Florida Derby (GI) to likely Kentucky Derby favorite Dialed In, is scheduled to work for trainer Dale Romans during the first Derby/Oaks training session during which the track will be reserved exclusively for Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders. That session is set approximately 8:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) and follows the break for track maintenance.
The 15-minute daily Derby/Oaks training sessions will continue through Thursday, May 5.
Risen Star (GII) winner Mucho Macho Man is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs either Saturday or Sunday, according to trainer Kathy Ritvo. Ritvo said the decision on whether the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing Stable colt works on Saturday would likely hinge on the amount of rain falling on Saturday.
Mucho Macho Man spent some time in the Churchill Downs starting gate on Friday before a routine gallop.
Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom, winner of the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (GIII) over the synthetic Polytrack course at Turfway Park, had been scheduled to work over the Churchill Downs strip on Saturday, but Team Valor’s Barry Irwin and trainer Graham Motion elected to remain at Keeneland and work over the Polytrack course as the Lexington track.
The National Weather Service office in Louisville has advised that one to four inches of rain could fall on the already soaked Louisville-Southern Indiana region by Saturday night.
DERBY 137 NOTES – Trainer Todd Pletcher plans to work Repole Stable’s Gotham (GIII) winner Stay Thirsty on SUNDAY and reigning juvenile champion Uncle Mo on Tuesday. Three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel is scheduled to be in the saddle for the work by Stay Thirsty. He will work both horses at approximately 8:30 a.m. during the 15-minute work session for Derby and Oaks contenders. … Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Pants On Fire and trainer Kelly Breen are scheduled for a Tuesday arrival at Churchill Downs
ARIENZA WORKS FOR PIETZ, KENTUCKY OAKS STILL POSSIBLE – Robert and Lawana Low’s Arienza, the fashionably bred runner-up to Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) contender Joyful Victory in Oaklawn Park’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (GII), worked for the first time over the historic racing strip at Churchill Downs on Friday, April 22.
But trainer Dan Peitz said the status of a possible bid for the Oaks by his rising star remains uncertain.
The daughter of European champion Giant’s Causeway out of 2002 U.S. Horse of the Year Azeri breezed four furlongs over a fast track in :49.40, which ranked as the 13th fastest move of 43 at the distance.
“I was just looking for her to go easy,” said Peitz, who saddled Real Cozzy for a runner-up finish to Juddmonte Farm’s Flute in the 2001 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks.
While the Kentucky Oaks remains an option for the inexperienced Arienza, whose loss in the Fantasy was her first loss in three career races, Peitz said the $100,000 Eight Belles Presented by ACS, A Xerox Company (GIII) at seven furlongs on the May 5 Kentucky Oaks undercard is a more likely spot for his filly’s next race.
“I think the Eight Belles right now is what I’m really looking at,” Peitz said. “But I’m here and we’ll let her tell me. We’ll see how she’s doing, and how everybody else is doing, too.”
Arienza did not start her racing career until March 6, when she won a six-furlong maiden race at Oaklawn Park. She followed that with a one-mile victory in a March 27 allowance race, then turned around quickly to run on a rest of just two weeks to compete in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy on April 10.
“I was disappointed in the Fantasy, but when it’s all said and done, we just crammed so much into a short period,” Peitz said. “I’m not saying we should have won the race. I just thought we should have been more competitive than we were.”
Arienza has earned $109,500 in her three races – including $60,000 in graded stakes earnings from her runner-up finish in the Fantasy.
The Kentucky Oaks is limited to 14 3-year-old fillies, with preference given to the 20 entrants with the highest total earnings in graded stakes events.
SUAVE VOIR FAIRE, ROYAL DELTA ENTER OAKS PICTURE – The prospect of an overflow field for the 137th and richest running of the Kentucky Oaks appeared more likely on Friday when the names of Fleur De Lis Stable’s Suave Voir Faire and Palides Investment’s Royal Delta were added to the list of possible contenders.
Suave Voir Faire breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Friday at Highpointe Training Center in LaGrange, Ky., and trainer Daniel “Speedy” Smithwick Jr., who is among the co-owners of the daughter of Suave, said would likely be entered in the Oaks.
Smithwick’s filly finished a distant third to Oaks contender Summer Soiree in the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) on Polytrack at Turfway Park last time out. She also has to her credit a third-place finish to Oaks hopeful Kathmanblu in Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII), along with a pair of good allowance runs over the winter at Fair Grounds. She finished a length behind eventual Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner and Kentucky Oaks contender Daisy Devine in a mile and 40 yard event on Dec. 30, and then ran third to Switching Gears and eventual Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up and Kentucky Oaks hopeful St. John’s River in a race at a mile and 70 yards on Feb. 25.
“She wants to go a little more ground than she’s been,” Smithwick said. “We went to the Fair Grounds and she kind of got sick on us, and I think she’s only now just getting right.”
Smithwick, the son of the late Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer Daniel “Mikey” Smithwick, said the $100,000-added Edgewood Presented by Kentucky National Insurance is a back-up race for Suave Voir Faire. That Kentucky Derby Day race for 3-year-old fillies is run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
But the Kentucky Oaks is now the top priority for Smithwick and his Fleur De Lis partners.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “We’re all local Kentuckians and we’re right here in our own backyards, and we might get to run for a million dollars.”
Regardless of what happens with Suave Voir Faire in the Kentucky Oaks, Smithwick is happy simply to have the opportunity to participate in the event. He has fully recovered from injuries suffered in a frightening accident last fall on the basement steps of his suburban Louisville home. He was heading downstairs just before bed on Nov. 15 to place wet clothes in a dryer, but hit his head on a low ceiling above the steps and took his dangerous tumble.
Smithwick broke his neck and fractured his skull in the mishap, and was hospitalized nearly until Christmas.
“I’m completely healed up – I went to my last doctor’s appointment here today,” Smithwick said by telephone on Friday. “I’m good to go.”
Given her backup option in the Edgewood, Smithwick said Suave Voir Faire could work on the grass over the next two weeks. Turf works at Churchill Downs are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 26.
Meanwhile, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed by telephone that Royal Delta was a “possible” for a run in the Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of A.P. Indy won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race over Polytarck at Keeneland on April 15 for her second win in three career starts.
“She’ll go either in the Oaks or the Black-Eyed Susan (at Pimlico on May 20),” Mott said.
Royal Delta launched her career in impressive style with a 12-length romp in a one-mile maiden race on Oct. 30 at Belmont Park. But she did not race again until she finished a disappointing ninth to Wyomia in the $75,000 Suncoast on March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs. She was a three-length winner in her return to competition last week.
Mott’s filly is stabled at Keeneland.
Two likely starters in the Kentucky Oaks – James M Miller’s Fair Grounds Oaks winner Daisy Devine and Drs. K.K. and V.D. Jayaraman’s Holy Heavens – arrived at Churchill Downs on Thursday and went to the track for the first time on Friday morning. Both are stabled in Barn 43, the traditional “Oaks Barn.”
Daisy Devine, a daughter of Kafwain who has won three of five starts, is trained by Churchill Downs veteran Andrew McKeever.
“I had meant to ship her over on Wednesday, but she was real quiet and I think it had something to do with the storm we had (Tuesday night) in Lexington,” said McKeever. “She went great today. She loves the dirt.”
McKeever said Daisy Devine would work over the Churchill Downs surface on Tuesday or Wednesday, with the latter the most likely date if the current weather forecast – which calls for rain through Tuesday – holds out.
Trainer Benard Chatters, who will have a string of horses at Churchill Downs’ Trackside training center for the first time during the 2011 Spring Meet, said Holy Heavens had settled in to new surroundings as led the filly to the track for her gallop after the break for track maintenance.
A broad smile crossed Chatters’ face when she stopped near the mile chute gap and appeared to gaze upward.
“She’s looking at those Spires,” Chatters said.
The daughter of Holy Bull has third-place and runner-up finishes, respectively, in her last two starts in Oaklawn’s Fantasy and Honeybee (GIII). She won the one-mile Martha Washington at Oaklawn on Feb. 12 and has a record of 2-2-2 in nine races.
R HEAT LIGHTNING AND KATHLMANBLU HEAD SATURDAY OAKS WORKOUTS – E. Paul Robsham’s R Heat Lightning, winner of the Gulfstream Oaks the likely favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, and Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu, winner of Churchill Downs Golden Rod (GII) and Rachel Alexandra (GIII), are scheduled to work on Saturday at Churchill Downs..
Both the Todd Pletcher-trained R Heat Lightning and trainer Ken McPeek’s Kathmanblu are set to work at approximately 8:30 a.m. during the 15-minute training session for Derby and Oaks contenders.
Team Valor International’s Bourbonette Oaks winner Summer Soiree had been scheduled to travel from Keeneland to Churchill Downs for a Saturday work, but will remain in Lexington to work over the Polytrack surface.
PROSPECTIVE FIELD FOR THE 137TH KENTUCKY OAKS CLIMBS TO 16 – With the addition of Suave Voir Faire and Royal Delta to the list of prospective starters in the 137th running of the Kentucky Oaks, there are 16 fillies listed as “likely” or “possible” for America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.
The 1 1/8-mile Oaks is limited to 14 starters, with preference to those with highest earnings in graded stakes.
Fillies listed as “likely” for Oaks 137 (with graded stakes earnings totals) include: R Heat Lightning ($910,000), Joyful Victory ($345,000), Kathmanblu ($328,525), Daisy Devine ($300,000), Lilacs and Lace ($244,750), Zazu ($238,185), St. John’s River ($100,000), Holy Heavens ($55,000) and Plum Pretty ($48,000).
Listed as “possible” for Oaks 137 are: Bouquet Booth ($326,000), Delightful Mary ($244,501), Arienza ($60,000), Summer Soiree ($58,900) and Suave Voir Faire ($25,552).
Possible Oaks starters with no graded earnings are Royal Delta and Street Storm.
OAKS 137 NOTES – Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty, a 25-length winner of the Sunland Oaks for trainer Bob Baffert, arrived at Churchill Downs on Thursday afternoon. … Lilacs and Lace, the John Terranova II-trained upset winner of the Central Bank Ashland (GI) at Keeneland, is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday.