The final load of horses from Al Stall Jr.’s barn at Fair Grounds in New Orleans is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland Friday morning, April 1. Included in the group are 3-year-olds Bind and Might, the latter a full sister to 2010 champion and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Blame .
“They’re scheduled to leave in a few hours,” Stall said March 31. “I’ve already sent a bunch of horses up there to Keeneland; these are the last few. This time of the year it’s a little bit harder for us because we’re scattered between racetracks.”
Graded stakes contender Apart, who ran second in the March 26 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), and Left, a previously unbeaten Arch gelding who ran seventh, 5 3/4 lengths back, in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on the same day, will also be on the van. According to Stall, all four runners are expected to point toward races on opening week at Churchill Downs, although Apart could race earlier or later.
“It’ll most likely be something Derby week for them, but with Apart we haven’t decided yet,” the trainer said about the week leading up to the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). “The Alysheba (gr. III, May 6 at Churchill) looks hard. They said Mission Impazible is going there, and it’s only a mile and a sixteenth, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do with him. It could be the Ben Ali (gr. III, April 23 at Keeneland), could be the William Donald Schaefer (gr. III, May 21 at Pimlico).”
The horses will be stabled under the supervision of assistant Glenn Brookfield until Stall arrives the weekend before Keeneland’s spring meeting, which begins April 8. Stall said transitioning horses from Fair Grounds’ dirt surface to the Polytrack at the Lexington oval is not a major training concern.
“We’re really used to it now and basically go through the same routine,” he said. “They train in different shoes and the first time they move over it, they might have a little more bounce to their step. But it’s like anything else--after a week or so of galloping, they’ve acclimated to the track, and we go on with it.”
Bind, an impressive maiden winner who romped in his Feb. 19 debut at Fair Grounds by 9 1/2 lengths and earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his six-furlong trip in 1:08.80, comes off a runner-up finish by three-quarters of a length to Neil Howard trainee Prime Cut. The promising son of Pulpit, bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, was sent off as the 1-9 favorite in his race March 26 but was reluctant to settle and set speedy fractions, dueling for the lead before being run down by the late-closing Prime Cut. The final time of 1:41.20 was a fifth of a second off the track record for a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds.
Might, by Arch out of the Seeking the Gold mare Liable, broke her maiden March 26 on the second try after finishing second by a head first time out at Fair Grounds Feb. 20. The filly stalked the pace three wide into the second turn of the mile and 70 yard event, then inched clear to hold her own by 1 ½ lengths. She also is campaigned by Claiborne and Dilschneider.
“We just let them get over their races, and it’s easier to ship them all at the same time,” said Stall. “They’ll take a day or two off after shipping and start back training on Sunday.”