Four D Stable's homebred Turallure seeks his first win of 2012 in the $150,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) July 1 at Churchill Downs, taking on five other older turf contenders as the 122-pound highweight in the one-mile event over the lawn.
The 2011 winner of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (gr. IT) and the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) towers over a field of runners all seeking their initial graded stakes score. He must rebound from a seventh-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. IT) May 5.
The 5-year-old son of Wando wheeled into that race a bit quickly from just missing victory in the April 14 Makers 46 Mile Stakes (gr. IT) by a neck to 12-1 shot Data Link. It was his first run since a second-place finish in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) in November of 2011.
Turallure worked June 26 on the all-weather track at Keeneland in preparation for the Firecracker, going four furlongs in :49 3/5. Jockey Julien Leparoux will fly in from his New York base to ride the rangy gray from post four.
Michael J. Bruder's Guys Reward is next in the weights at 118 and comes into the Firecracker on a two-race win streak at Churchill. Trainer Dale Romans saddled the 5-year-old Grand Reward runner to a half-length victory over Seruni June 9 in the 1 1/16-mile Opening Verse Stakes off a May 31 allowance optional claiming score by the same margin going a mile on the turf. Guys Reward was third in the April 22 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. IIIT) and has hit the board in grade II or grade IIII company each of the past three years. Leading Churchill rider Corey Lanerie has the call.
Seruni comes back from that June 9 runner-up effort hoping to return to previous form shown May 5, when he took a one-mile turf allowance optional claimer at Churchill by a head. Owned by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. and St. George Farm Racing, the 5-year-old son of Saint Liam has only run once in a graded race for trainer Philip Oliver; he finished sixth in the March 3 Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT). Jon Court will ride.
Completing the field are Melynk Racing Stables' two-time allowance winner Silver Rock, recently second by a nose in a June 3 allowance optional claimer going one mile on the Churchill turf for trainer Mark Casse; Camelia Casby's Night Party, a 4-year-old homebred son of Rahy who was third in the May 28 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) and last ran second in a June 20 overnight stake going a mile on the grass at Indiana Downs; and Mandurah, an allowance winner last out at 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill lawn June 17 for owner Kip Colvin and trainer Grant Forester.
The Firecracker will be run on closing day of Churchill's spring meet with an approximate post time of 9:30 p.m. ET, part of the Louisville oval's decision to move three race cards to the evening due to looming near-record triple-digit heat forecast for the area over the weekend.
$150,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, approximate post 9:30 p.m. ET), 3yo & up, one mile (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Night Party (KY), S. J. Sellers, 115, P Huffman
2. Seruni (KY), J.K. Court, 117, P J Oliver
3. Mandurah (KY), B.J. Hernandez, Jr., 115, G T Forester
4. Turallure (KY), J.R. Leparoux, 122, C Lopresti
5. Silver Rock (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 116, M E Casse
6. Guys Reward (KY), C.J. Lanerie, 118, D L Romans