The Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) April 30 at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) is a homecoming of sorts for some former Kentucky Derby contestants. Leading the way is Friesan Fire , last year’s Derby favorite who encountered trouble during the race and finished 18th behind winner Mine That Bird. Things didn’t get much better in the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) as he finished 10th of 13.
But following a lengthy layoff, Freisan Fire has shown some renewed spark under new jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. Racing at Fair Grounds, the Steve Asmussen trainee ran third in an optional claimer in December, won the Louisiana Handicap on the lead in January, and ran a decent fourth in the Mineshaft (gr. III) in February. The son of A.P. Indy again will have the services of Bridgmohan in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba, which is named after the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.
Chocolate Candy and Flying Private also contested the 2009 Derby without much luck. Chocolate Candy ran fifth, and then ninth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He hasn’t run since an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) in November. The Candy Ride colt, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, breaks from the inside post and has the jockey services of Rafael Bejarano.
Flying Private, who redeemed himself with a fourth in the Preakness after finishing 19th in the Run for the Roses, has run twice this year. He won an allowance race at Oaklawn and ran a close second in the Fifth Season Stakes (gr. II) at the Arkansas oval. Jockey T.L. Thompson gets a return call aboard the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus from trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Cool Coal Man is another former Derby contender in the race. He finished unplaced in Big Brown’s 2008 romp. Cool Coal Man has started twice this year, winning an optional claiming race at Gulfstream and then running second in the Gulfsteam Park Handicap (gr. II). The son of Mineshaft is trained by Nick Zito and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
The Alysheba also has attracted millionaires Arson Squad and Macho Again, and Bullsbay, the 2009 Alysheba winner. Bullsbay (by Tiznow ) and Macho Again (by Macho Uno ) were grade I winners last year but haven’t been out this year. In the 2009 Whitney Handicap (gr. I), Bullsbay defeated Macho Again. The latter’s grade I win came in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill, with Bullsbay finishing fourth.
Bullsbay is trained by H. Graham Motion and will be ridden by Jeremy Rose for the 10th straight time. Macho Again is conditioned by Dallas Stewart. Robby Albarado will ride him for the eighth consecutive time.
Arson Squad, a son of Brahms trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., sports a triumph in the April 3 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream in the last of his three starts this year. The 7-year-old gelding will be ridden by Paco Lopez for the second straight time.
Enriched (by High Brite) and Prom Shoes (by Include ) round out the nine-horse field.
Alysheba Stakes (gr. III), April 30, $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, Churchill Downs, Race 9, Post 3:54 p.m.
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1. Chocolate Candy 118 Rafael Bejarano
2. Friesan Fire 118 Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Macho Again 118 Robby Albarado
4. Cool Coal Man 118 Jose Lezcano
5. Prom Shoes 118 C.H. Borel
6. Bullsbay 118 Jeremy Rose
7. Arson Squad 122 Paco Lopez
8. Flying Private 118 T.J. Thompson
9. Enriched 118 Joel Rosario