Though he won the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) last fall over the same course, Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song may have a tough time when making his first start of the season in the $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) April 10 on the Keeneland turf.
Since scoring in the Turf Mile in wire-to-wire fashion Oct. 4, Thorn Song finished ninth in the Oct. 25 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita and was well-beaten in the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 22 at Churchill Downs. Now, the son of Unbridled's Song makes his 6-year-old debut after being on the sidelines for four and half months. He’ll face six rivals in the Mile, three of them graded or group stakes winners.
Trained by Dale Romans, Thorn Song wintered in Florida during his much-needed freshening. The gray/roan horse started in 11 races in 2008, winning three times. His other victories were in an optional claimer and the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) – both last summer at Churchill. The Kentucky-bred was also third, beaten only a length, to Kip Deville in last year's Mile. He had a pair of starts leading into that race.
In his only work since shipping back north, Thorn Song worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 April 5 on the Churchill dirt.
Robby Albarado will get the call on Thorn Song, who will carry top weight of 123 pounds and break from post 5.
One of the contenders to take down Thorn Song is Peachtree Stable’s Twilight Meteor. The 5-year-son of Smart Strike earned his first graded stakes win and first victory since the winter of 2007 on Feb. 28 in the one-mile Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park. Though Twilight Meteor had a span of 11 starts without a win before that, he finished in the money five times and was defeated a length or less in three graded stakes.
Twilight Meteor, who was bred in Ontario, won the Bourbon Stakes on the Keeneland Polytrack as a 3-year-old and was runner-up by a nose in an optional claimer on the Keeneland turf one race prior. John Velazquez will ride for Todd Pletcher.
Another interesting rival is Patricia Bozano’s Brazilian-bred Fluke, who won a group III race in his native country as a sophomore and scored in his second U.S. start last month on the Santa Anita turf. The 4-year-old son of Wild Event pressed the early pace in the one-mile event before outdueling another rival in the stretch to win by a length under Garrett Gomez, who will get the mount again. Bobby Frankel trains the dark bay colt.
Another foreign invader to consider is Passager. Although the 6-year-old was fifth to Twilight Meteor in the Canadian Turf, he returned to the Gulfstream grass course March 28 to finish a solid third in the Appleton (gr. IIIT). The French-bred horse won a group III on the European turf as a 3-year-old and is a consistent 5-4-8 from 24 lifetime tries. Edgar Prado rides for Roger Attfield.
The Mile is race 9 on a 10-race Keeneland card that also includes the Fort Harrod Stakes for older horses going 1 5/8 miles on Polytrack.