Double Bogey Stable’s Semaphore Man, winner of the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) in consecutive years and the lone graded stakes winner in a full field of 11 sprinters, tops the Aristides Stakes (gr. III) May 30 at Churchill Downs.
A 7-year-old gelded son of Formal Gold, Semaphore Man won the April 10 Count Fleet by a neck at Oaklawn Park in his last start – his first victory in three tries this season. The Kelly Von Hemel trainee won the same six-furlong event in 2008 for his first graded stakes triumph. Though this will be his 28th lifetime start, it will be his Churchill debut.
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. John Murphy, Semaphore Man is out of the Lost Code mare Semaphore Ms. With a 9-6-5 record, the dark bay has earned $530,210. Jesus Castanon will ride the 122-pound high weight for the first time.
Savorthetime Stables’ Sok Sok figures to be one of Semaphore Man’s main challengers in the six-furlong Aristides. Based in Louisville, the 4-year-old Trippi colt ran a credible fifth in the May 2 Churchill Downs (gr. II) on Kentucky Derby day, finishing 3 1/2 lengths back of the winner. Prior to that, he won the March 14 Duncan Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds on sloppy going. The chestnut also closed out his 2008 campaign with a victory in the Thanksgiving Handicap in New Orleans, his first race back from an eleven-month layoff.
Steve Asmussen trains Sok Sok, who is a consistent 5-1-0 from 10 career starts. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride.
Entering off victories in optional claiming company are Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Grand Sensation, Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start, and Courtlandt Farms’ Cassoulet. Grand Sensation won a one-mile event May 3 on the Arlington Park Polytrack, while Bold Start and Cassoulet scored on Churchill's dirt. Cassoulet, to be ridden by Jamie Theriot, has won two of three starts this season for trainer James Baker.