Einstein the Smart Choice in Firecracker

Einstein the Smart Choice in Firecracker
Photo: Jeffrey Snyder
Einstein returns to the turf for the Firecracker (gr. IIT) July 4 at Churchill Downs.
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Einstein, with a pair of grade I wins on the turf and a gallant second to reigning Horse of the Year Curlin under his belt so far this year, will be a short price Friday in the one-mile Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Helen Pitts for lessees Patrica Cunningham and Melissa Green, Einstein has won twice on the turf this year and ran second in his other grass attempt in the Maker’s Mark (gr. IT) at Keeneland. In his last start, the striking dark bay or brown horse was second, beaten 4 ¾ lengths by Curlin, in the $1-million Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) over Churchill Downs' main track.

Perhaps at his best at nine furlongs or longer, the Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck did win going a mile on the turf at Gulfstream Park in his 2008 debut in January.

The Firecracker, a $200,000 race that traditionally signals the end of the spring/summer meet under the Twin Spires, drew a field of seven. Those brave enough to take on Einstein include Thorn Song, Inca King, and A. P. Xcellent.

Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song comes into the Firecracker off an easy win at the distance June 8 as the 1-2 favorite. In his last start, the son of Unbridled’s Song—Festal, by Storm Bird, was sixth behind Einstein in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) in the race prior to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May. 3.  The 5-year-old won the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Churchill course in November of last year.

Inca King is unbeaten in three starts over the Churchill turf course. In his last start, May 31, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s star cruised by 2 1/4 lengths in the Opening Verse Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Last year, he took the Commonwealth Turf Stakes during the fall meet and rolled to a three-length victory in the Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) during the spring meet. The 4-year-old is trained by Steve Asmussen.

A. P. Xcellent gets back in against stakes company for the first time since last fall. The son of A.P. Indy has already made three starts over the Churchill course this meet, finishing second twice and winning an allowance/optional claimer last time out on June 12. Larry Melancon gets the call for trainer Niall O’Callaghan.


Firecracker H. (gr. IIT), $200,000, one mile, turf, 3-year-olds and up, Churchill Downs, July 4, approximate post 5:52 p.m.
PP – Horse – Weight – Jockey
1  - A. P. Xcellent - 116  - Larry Melancon
2  - Thorn Song -     118  - Kent  Desormeaux
3  - Einstein  - 124  - Robby Albarado
4  - Faith's Magic - 116      - Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr.
5  - Portuga  - 115  - Calvin Borel
6  - Steve's Double  - 115  - Miguel Mena
7  - Inca King  - 118  - Shaun Bridgmohan

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