Remarkable 7-year-old horse Einstein, a graded stakes winner on dirt, turf and synthetics, will attempt to make history by becoming the first repeat winner of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) on May 2 at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve is race 10 on the Churchill card and immediately precedes the $2-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). A field of 10 was entered.
Trained by Helen Pitts, Einstein enters the race off a victory in the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on the Pro-Ride surface, a score that upped his career earnings to more than $2.2 million. The Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck won the Woodford Reserve by a length last year, a season that also included victories in the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT) and Clark Handicap (gr. II) on the Churchill dirt.
Owned by Matthew Garretson, who is the court-appointed receiver for Midnight Cry Stables, Einstein is 6-2-1 from 16 lifetime starts on grass. He has posted three works at Churchill since the Santa Anita Handicap, his latest breeze coming April 26 when getting five furlongs in 1:00.40. Julien Leparoux will get the return mount on the dark bay and they will break from post 6. Einstein is out of the Ghadeer mare Gay Charm.
Einstein will meet three of the same rivals that he defeated in the Santa Anita Handicap, including 4-year-olds Court Vision and Cowboy Cal, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Both starters in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, Court Vision and Cowboy Cal have each had success on turf.
Owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, Court Vision won a pair of graded stakes on the turf in his sophomore campaign, including the grade I Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30. The son of Gulch, who became a millionaire in that race, finished third in his 4-year-old debut in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. IT) on Feb. 1. Ramon Dominguez will have the riding assignment for Bill Mott. Court Vision will carry top weight of 124 pounds.
Robert and Janice McNair’s Cowboy Cal finished second in the Hollywood Derby and then followed with consecutive scores in the San Pasquel Handicap (gr. IIT) and Strub (gr. IIT), both on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride. The son of Giants' Causeway posted his lone graded stakes turf win in the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course in his 3-year-old debut.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will have regular rider John Velazquez handle the assignment on Cowboy Cal.
The other starter coming out of the Santa Anita Handicap is Bobby Frankel trainee Zambezi Sun, who finished ninth in that race. A grade I winner in France, Zambezi Sun will be making his third start on American soil. He is owned by Juddmonte Farms.
Also in with a chance are Artiste Royal and Thorn Song, third and sixth, respectively, in last year’s Woddford Reserve.