A TO THE CROFT – Koolmen Racing Stable’s A to the Croft galloped a mile and five-eighths after the renovation break with exercise rider Jose Castanon up.
Trained by Ken McPeek, A to the Croft will be ridden in the Oaks by Calvin Borel. A to the Croft drew post position nine for the Oaks.
ABSOLUTELY CINDY – Keith Kinmon’s Absolutely Cindy jogged a mile after the renovation break Tuesday morning in preparation for Friday’s $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI). Cindy Applegate was aboard the daughter of Arch.
Kinmon, who also bred and trains Absolutely Cindy, said the filly would not have any visits this week to the gate or the paddock.
“She has always been good wherever we have taken her,” Kinmon said. “We took her down to Calder (for the Tropical Park Oaks) and she just walked into the paddock and calmly watched everything going on. It’s never been a problem.”
Absolutely Cindy, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and break from post position two, is named for Kinmon’s wife and it’s not the first filly he has named for his bride.
“The first one was Sensitive Cindy,” Kinmon said with a laugh. “She made $40,000 to $50,000 as a high claimer but she tore a suspensory.”
AWESOME CHIC – Aurora Springs Stable’s filly Awesome Chic galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs on Tuesday under exercise rider Ariel Carrasquillo. She drew post number three in the Kentucky Oaks, where she will get a new jockey in Robby Albarado. Irwin Rosendo had ridden her in all five of her previous races.
Jose Acero, of Aurora Springs Stable, explained the change. “Rosendo is an excellent rider, but with a crowd of over 100,000 people and all the excitement, we thought we needed a jockey with more experience. Robby (Albarado) breezed her two times and said she likes the track.”
Awesome Chic has been at Churchill Downs since April 13.
“She has the heart and spirit of an eagle,” said Acero.
Trainer Rafael Ramos won his first race as a trainer with his first starter in 1972 in his native Dominican Republic. Acero said his close friend and trainer had won more than 3,000 races in the Dominican Republic before making the move to the United States in 2006. Interestingly, Ramos says he won with his first starter in this country at Suffolk Downs.
Awesome Chic broke her maiden by 17 ½ lengths in her debut race at Suffolk Downs and was subsequently named the 2007 New England two-year-old champion filly. It was a good year for the connections, too.
The New England Turf Writers Association honored Ramos with the Gerry Sullivan Memorial Award as outstanding trainer in the region and Aurora Springs Stable was the leading owner at Suffolk Downs with 38 winners at the meet.
BSHARPSONATA – Cloverleaf Farm’s Bsharpsonata galloped two miles before the renovation break under Scott Miller.
Trainer Tim Salzman is scheduled to be at the barn in the morning from his Maryland base to complete the preparation of the Pulpit filly that has been handled by his father John in Kentucky. Eric Camacho has the Oaks mount and will break from post position 10.
With her pink Oaks saddle towel and bright orange wraps, Bsharpsonata is easy to spot in the mornings.
“This was a long time ago in Boston when I bought my first horse,” John Salzman said. “I didn’t have any colors and I bought this horse from an ad for $600 from a trainer named John Swatack. His colors were black and orange and his initials were J.S., so I just kept them.”
Bsharpsonata broke her maiden at first asking at Delaware Park and went right into the stakes ranks with a run in the Grade II Adirondack. She has raced exclusively in stakes since.
“She always showed she had some ability,” Salzman said. “We had her going five-eighths and the man in charge called me when they were going to the gate and he said ‘you know this horse’s mother won going a mile and a half on the grass and we are really not expecting too awful much from her in her first start.’ I said ‘if you hang up, I’m right in the middle of betting on her and we are expecting a lot!’ ”
Bsharpsonata paid $37.40 that day.
COUNTRY STAR – Stonerside Stable’s multiple-stakes winner galloped once around the Keeneland oval Tuesday morning as she put the finishing touches on preparations for her run Friday in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks under the guidance of Hall of Fame conditioner Robert Frankel.
The homebred daughter of Empire Maker will be reunited with Rafael Bejarano for the nine-furlong Oaks and they’ll break out of the No. 6 post in the 12-horse field.
“The six (post) is fine,” Frankel noted. “That’s a good spot for her. She’s doing good and she’ll ship over on Wednesday.”
GOLDEN DOC A – Trainer Barry Abrams was back on the scene at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning to oversee activities for owner Ron McCauley’s Golden Doc A. You couldn’t blame the conditioner if things felt a little different to him.
When Abrams left his Los Angeles headquarters, where Santa Ana winds have been blowing for several days, he noted that the thermometer in his car had hit 105 degrees as he was leaving Hollywood Park. This morning at Churchill that same thermometer would have read 44, and that didn’t take into account the chilly breeze that was blowing.
But the hearty Abrams, who hails from Russian stock, didn’t let a bit of nip in the air bother him as he gave exercise rider Stephen O’Callaghan a leg up on his chestnut filly at 7 a.m. for a mile and a half spin around the big Churchill Downs oval. As she does with all her activity – morning and afternoon – the daughter of Unusual Heat went about her preparations for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks with determination.
“I was thinking about blowing her out three furlongs this morning,” the trainer said, “but if I had she’d have gone in :34 and it would have wound her up and put speed on her mind. She doesn’t need that. She’s going to take back and make a run at them through the stretch, so the strong gallop was the right thing for her.”
Abrams, whose stable is on a roll right now – including being DQed into two stakes wins in California in the last two weeks – said post position was not a major Oaks concern for his stretch-running filly.
“They’ve got that long run into the first turn and she’s going to be in the back anyway,” he noted. “She should be laying about seventh or eighth on the fence and then come running in the stretch. If we draw outside, we’ll take her over to the rail. If we draw inside, we’ll just take a hold. I’ve got the right rider (Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux) for it and he’ll know what to do.”
Later Tuesday morning Golden Doc A drew post No. 1 in the 12-horse field for the $500,000 Oaks.
EIGHT BELLES/PROUD SPELL – Larry Jones, trainer and “exercise boy” of Fox Hill Farm’s filly Eight Belles, took his star filly to the paddock Tuesday morning for some schooling before galloping her 1 ½ miles.
The trainer regularly exercises the horses he trains, sometimes up to 10 or 12 a day when he is at his current Delaware Park base, and benefits from the instant feedback he acquires from being in the saddle. At 175 pounds, the trainer is heavier than most exercise riders, but he knows his horses are fit as a result.
With two “star” fillies in the barn – his other is Proud Spell, who will contest the Kentucky Oaks on Friday – Jones credits his owners with the enviable situation he is in this week. “I owe this to [Fox Hill’s] Rick Porter and [Proud Spell’s owner/breeder] Brereton Jones and God,” said Jones. “We’ve been blessed. Brereton raises good horses and Rick buys good horses.”
Jones entered Eight Belles in the Kentucky Oaks Tuesday morning as a second option in the event she draws an undesirable (read “far outside”) post position in the Derby. Ironically, she drew the outside 12 post in the Oaks. Jockey Ramon Dominguez is her rider if she goes in the Oaks.
Brereton Jones’ homebred filly Proud Spell galloped 1 ½ miles under trainer Larry Jones on Tuesday after the renovation break. She drew post number eight in the Kentucky Oaks and will be ridden by her regular rider, Gabriel Saez.
“She came out of her breeze good,” said Jones. Proud Spell had worked five furlongs in 58.40 at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
Proud Spell was under consideration for a start in the Kentucky Derby, which would have given Jones two fillies in the Run for the Roses, but with her going in the Oaks instead, he now has a shot at the elusive Oaks/Derby Double. Only two trainers in the 133-year history of the two races have pulled off the feat: H.J. Thompson in 1933 and the legendary Ben Jones, twice, in 1949 and 1952.
ELUSIVE LADY – Gold Mark Farm’s Elusive Lady galloped two miles over a sloppy track under George Muniz at Belmont Park on Tuesday morning and is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday afternoon.
Trained by John Kimmel, Elusive Lady will be ridden by Eibar Coa and housed in Barn 45. Kimmel is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Friday. Elusive Lady will break from post position four.
HIGHEST CLASS – Briarwood Stable’s Highest Class was not entered by trainer Neil Howard on Tuesday for the Kentucky Oaks.
Howard feels Highest Class has the credentials to be a top filly and should show it later in her career.
Howard will head to New York on Wednesday to saddle W.S. Farish and E.J. Hudson Jr.’s Grasshopper in the Westchester Handicap (GIII) at Belmont Park. Grasshopper was the runner-up to Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in last year’s Travers (GI) at Saratoga and a shot at the June 14 Stephen Foster (GI) at Churchill Downs is a possibility, according to Howard.
LITTLE BELLE – At Keeneland, Little Belle is “doing great,” said Neal McLaughlin, assistant to his brother Kiaran. The A.P. Indy filly galloped 1 ¼ miles over the Polytrack with exercise rider Marsha Barr aboard on Tuesday morning as the temperature remained in the mid-30s. “She’s really happy,” McLaughlin said.
“Horses don’t seem to mind the cold air as much as we do.”
Little Belle will train at Keeneland on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and begin her trip to Louisville at 1 p.m. on Thursday. “We’re going to walk and run,” McLaughlin said about the filly’s routine at Churchill Downs on Friday, day of the Kentucky Oaks. Rajiv Maragh will ride Little Belle in the Oaks and break from post position seven.
PURE CLAN – With breeder and part-owner Lewis Lakin looking on, Pure Clan galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Steve Schmelzel up.
Trainer Bob Holthus, who is a constant presence in the viewing stand by the 5 ½-furlong gap, was asked if any Oaks rivals had caught his eye.
“Proud Spell,” Holthus said of the Larry Jones-trained filly, who, like Pure Clan, never has run worse than third in her career. “I haven’t seen (Bobby) Frankel’s filly (Country Star), but I know she was good as a two-year-old.”
Edgar Prado will ride Pure Clan and break from post position 11.
RASIERRA – “We are going,” Cody Autrey said of Rasierra being supplemented into the Kentucky Oaks.
“(Owner) Lloyd DeBruycker said ‘let’s go!’ She worked great yesterday (a bullet half-mile in :46.60), she’s been here two weeks and had two great works. It was either run here or the Black-Eyed Susan (on May 16) at Pimlico.”
Autrey has been overseeing the Kentucky training of Rasierra. Ray Tracy Jr. will be the trainer of record for the Oaks and is expected in Louisville on Wednesday or Thursday.
Rasierra is scheduled to return to the track Wednesday morning. Jamie Theriot has the Oaks riding assignment. Rasierra drew post position five.