By Kelsey Riley
The April 30 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint Stakes (gr. IIIT), one of five supporting stakes on the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) undercard, has drawn a competitive field of 11 older turf sprinters.
Of the 11 horses slated for the $100,000, five-furlong contest, six won their last start, and four of those six are riding winning streaks of two or more races.
The Turf Sprint is headlined by three-time grade III winner Silver Timber. The 7-year-old gelding has found his most consistent form since being claimed last April by trainer Chad Brown for $25,000 on behalf of Michael Dubb and High Grade Racing Stable. Since the barn change Silver Timber has won five of seven races, including three grade III stakes. The son of Prime Timber – River Princess, by Alwuhush won the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) last out at Keeneland April 10.
“He’s doing really well,” said Brown. “It’s back a little bit on short rest, 20 days, but the horse came out of the race so well, and it’s an opportunity to run in another graded stakes. I wanted to give him a shot, so we’ll go over there and see what happens.”
Silver Timber is the race’s richest earner, with $471,108 garnered from 10 wins and eight placings from 31 starts. The veteran runner has traveled to such locales as New York, Canada, Kentucky, and Florida, but will make his first start at Churchill on Friday.
“He’s definitely established himself as one of the best sprinters,” said Brown. “He deserves a shot over there. It’s nice to have a horse like that in the barn that you can rely on. Every time I lead him over there I know he’s going to try his hardest.”
Silver Timber will once again be partnered will jockey Julien Leparoux.
Also showing potential in the race is Moralist, third behind Silver Timber last out in the Shakertown. Prior to that effort, the 5-year-old Talk is Money gelding won a Hawthorne Park allowance event March 23 for trainer Tammy Domenosky and owner Miracle Logistics.
Moralist has won or placed in eight of his 10 most recent starts and has gradually moved up the claiming ranks into stakes company. Once running for a tag of as little as $9,500, Moralist was a $7,500 weanling at the 2005 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Popular trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle two runners for the Turf Sprint. Dogwood Stables’ Barge, though light on experience, has been ultra-consist in his short career, running off the board just once in five career starts. The 4-year-old son of Forest Camp was most recently second in a March 28 Gulfstream Park allowance optional claiming event on dirt.
Pletcher’s other horse, Starfish Bay, is the lone filly in the race. The Gainesway Stable-owned 4-year-old has shown her affinity for this race condition, winning the Ladies Turf Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream last out in course record time. The daughter of Elusive Quality will get the services of John Velazquez.
Two other powerful trainers, Allen Jerkens and Steve Asmussen, will be represented in the Turf Sprint. Jerkens will attempt to keep alive the three-race winning streak of Formidable, an allowance winner last out at Gulfstream on turf April 4. Asmussen brings Stonestreet Stables’ Heavenly Chorus.
Churchill Downs Turf Sprint Stakes (gr. III), April 30, $100,000, 3-year-olds and upward, five furlongs (turf), Churchill Downs, approximate post time 3:04 p.m.
PP, Horse, Jockey
1, Moralist, B Meier
2, Perfect Officer, K J Desormeaux
3, Chamberlain Bridge, J Theriot
4, Heavenly Chorus, S Bridgmohan
5, Mitigation, A Garcia
6, Silver Timber, J R Leparoux
7, Starfish Bay, J R Velazquez
8, Barge, G K Gomez
9, Formidable, J Lezcano
10, Central City, R Albarado
11, Lit’sgoodlookngray, J Talamo