Churchill Downs Race Report (Cont.)

Churchill Downs Race Report (Cont.)
Photo: Mike Corrado
Spain, shown winning at Churchill Downs last month, won Saturday's Fleur de Lis while in foal to Storm Cat.
"We haven't changed a thing in her program," Lukas said, referring to Spain's maternal status. "She's resting well and eating well, and we're gonna go along and do what we've been doing. They say exercise is best for expecting mothers, and she looks better to me now than she has at anytime during the year. She's just seemed to bloom--it could be spring, the great grass, Storm Cat, I don't know, but she sure as hell looks good."

As for how long Spain will remain in training, the conditioner is optimistic. "I've talked to the best breeding minds and they say there's not a lot of development until five or six months. They saw no reason why we couldn't run her through the fall, but that won't be my decision. We'll get a couple more with her, and maybe get her all the way to the Breeders' Cup. I want to plant that seed, and I'm sure you guys will help."

If Spain, North America's all-time leading female earner, does make the Distaff in 2002, it will be her third. She missed repeating in 2001 by a head to Unbridled Elaine. Maybe there's room for one more.

Dan Cuts It

Mike Pegram's Danthebluegrassman, famous for his late entry and even later defection from this year's Kentucky Derby, proved in the inaugural Northern Dancer Stakes ($109,500) that he might well have been a force to be reckoned with the first Saturday in May. Facing a fine field that included Stephentown, Shah Jehan, and Sky Terrace at a mile, Danthebluegrassman rallied wide turning for home under Bailey and cruised to a 2 1/2-length victory in 1:35.04. The son of Pioneering, trained by Bob Baffert, is now a three-time stakes winner.

Baffert, who was 2,000 miles away from his Bobblehead doll giveaway in California to saddle Congaree, noted that "Dan" is a good horse who tends to come up with little ailments to overcome. He was impressive on this day.

The $169,050 Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies went to Gary Tanaka's Distant Valley, making her second start in the States after a fine career in her native Great Britain. It was Bailey once again, this time sitting off the pace of Peace River Lady before assuming control off the turn. The 8 1/2 furlongs went in 1:42.71. Niall O'Callaghan trains.

(Chart, Equibase)

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