(from Churchill Downs)
ABSOLUTELY CINDY – Keith Kinmon, the owner, breeder and trainer of Absolutely Cindy, reported his filly was doing well Monday morning, a day after she worked three furlongs in :37.
The daughter of Arch, who won her only start at Churchill Downs in a grass stake last fall, is scheduled to return to the track in the morning. Brian Hernandez, who worked Absolutely Cindy on Sunday and who has ridden her once before, is the probable Oaks rider.
Kinmon was interested in the possible growing number of Oaks entrants, most notably Rasierra, who worked a bullet half-mile Monday morning at Churchill Downs, and Elusive Lady.
“Looks like a lot more speed in there and that is better for us,” Kinmon said.
A TO THE CROFT – Koolmen Racing Stable’s A to the Croft was on the track before 7 a.m. Monday, jogging to the five-eighths pole and then galloping once around under Jose Castanon.
A to the Croft had worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday over a muddy track and trainer Ken McPeek is not concerned about the effects of an off track on the Menifee filly. A to the Croft shows one race on an off track, a ninth-place finish in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) last fall at Monmouth Park.
“That was a terrible ride,” McPeek said of the race in which A to the Croft drew post position 13. “He (Kent Desormeaux) sent her and I asked him what he was doing and he said he was trying to get position.”
After the Breeders’ Cup, A to the Croft was given time off and did not resurface at the races until March 22 in the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) at Turfway Park in which she ran third.
“The break was by design,” McPeek said. “I always give my horses a break in December and January.”
AWESOME CHIC – Aurora Springs Stable’s filly Awesome Chic galloped 1½ miles at Churchill Downs on Monday under exercise rider Ariel Carrasquillo. Trainer Rafael Ramos and owner Jose Acero were present.
Ramos and Acero are both from the Dominican Republic and have been good friends since they were kids and business associates for many years. Acero lives on the island, where he operates a metal and mining business. He owns about 30 horses, 16 of them in training with Ramos between Tampa Bay Downs and Suffolk Downs.
Awesome Chic won the Grade III Florida Oaks at Tampa last out and Acero is quick to point out her winning running time of 1:44.38.
“Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby winner) holds the track record for 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs (1:43.11) and our time was just a second (1.27 seconds) off his record. If you put Street Sense in this race, tell us if you think he’d have a chance,” Acero said with a grin.
Awesome Chic schooled in the paddock on Sunday. The daughter of Awesome Again will gallop again on Tuesday, going out about 7 a.m.
BSHARPSONATA – Cloverleaf Farm’s Bsharpsonata galloped two miles before the renovation break under Scott Miller at Churchill Downs on Monday morning.
“This cooler weather has got her real sharp,” said John Salzman, who is overseeing the filly’s preparation for his son Tim.
Bsharpsonata will be ridden in Oaks by Eric Camacho, who has been aboard the Pulpit filly for her past seven starts. One of those starts was a victory in the slop at Gulfstream Park in the Forward Gal (GII).
“She has run on an off track and run good,” said Salzman, who would not be fazed by a less-than-fast surface on Friday for the Oaks. “She has run well on everything, but you don’t like to run a horse on an off track.”
COUNTRY STAR – Stonerside Stable’s double Grade I winner “trotted a mile and sixteenth going the wrong way” Monday morning at Keeneland, according to her trainer, Hall of Famer Robert Frankel.
The Empire Maker filly is finishing up her preparations for Friday’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks, a nine-furlong fray that carries a purse of $500,000.
Frankel also noted that he’d scheduled a slight change in plans for his filly and his other horses scheduled for stakes starts this Friday and Saturday at Churchill. He’ll ship them all over from Lexington on Wednesday, not Thursday as originally thought.
ELUSIVE LADY – Gold Mark Farm’s Elusive Lady is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Wednesday from Belmont Park for a run in the Kentucky Oaks.
Trained by John Kimmel, Elusive Lady has compiled a record of 7-2-2-1 for earnings of $195,038. In her most recent start, she ran third in the Comely (GII) at Aqueduct on April 12. Prior to that, she was runner-up to Oaks contender Awesome Chic in the Florida Oaks (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Eibar Coa, who rode Elusive Lady to victory in the Tempted (GIII) last fall at Aqueduct, will have the Oaks mount.
Elusive Lady worked a half-mile in :49.40 over the Belmont Park training track on Friday and the daughter of Van Nistelrooy galloped Monday morning at Belmont.
“We had been on the fence (about running) but with the defection of some horses and the owner wanting to participate in the big weekend, we decided to come,” Kimmel said.
GOLDEN DOC A – The California-bred chestnut by Unusual Heat galloped her usual mile and a half around the big Churchill Downs oval Monday, going about her business with vigor under exercise rider Stephen O’Callaghan.
The Ron McCauley-owned filly will be one of the most seasoned runners in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks with 12 starts already to her credit – 11 of them in stakes. Up on her for the first time in the nine-furlong headliner will be Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux.
HIGHEST CLASS – Briarwood Stable’s Highest Class galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break under Annie Finney.
Trainer Neil Howard said no decision has been made regarding the filly’s Oaks participation.
HONEST PURSUIT – Overbrook Farm’s Honest Pursuit, who officially broke her maiden last out at Keeneland on April 4, galloped at Churchill Downs on Monday morning.
When asked if the filly would be entered in the Kentucky Oaks, trainer Dallas Stewart said, “There’s a small chance, but probably not. She’s an awfully nice filly and we’re trying to approach this and go about it the right way. We don’t want to overmatch her right off the bat.”
A daughter of Storm Cat out of a Seattle Slew mare, the impeccably bred Honest Pursuit actually finished first in a maiden special weight race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 26, but was disqualified for causing interference around the second turn and was subsequently placed fourth.
LITTLE BELLE – At Keeneland, assistant Neal McLaughlin said it all when he gave a thumb’s up with his right hand while posting a wide grin. McLaughlin, assistant to his brother Kiaran, was referring to the status of Ashland Stakes (GI) winner Little Belle. On Monday morning, the filly returned to the track for a 1 ¼-mile gallop with exercise rider Marsha Barrs aboard. Little Belle worked on Friday and walked the shedrow the following two mornings.
Little Belle remains scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Thursday. Rajiv Maragh will ride the A.P. Indy filly in the Oaks.
PROUD SPELL – Brereton Jones’ homebred filly Proud Spell had been under consideration for a start in the Kentucky Derby, but the owner and trainer, Larry Jones, have decided to enter her in the Kentucky Oaks. This gives Jones a one-two punch in the Oaks and Derby, since he is pointing Fox Hill Farms’ Eight Belles to the “Run for the Roses.”
“I’ve finished second in both races now,” said Jones. “Island Sand in the 2004 Oaks and Hard Spun in last year’s Derby. I don’t know if we can improve off that, but it sure gives us a taste to try again.”
Proud Spell worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Sunday, so she walked the shedrow on Monday morning.
“She should be the favorite or at least second choice based on what she’s accomplished,” said Jones. Proud Spell never has been worse than third in seven career starts and sports a whopping $938,770 in lifetime earnings.
PURE CLAN – Dual graded stakes winner Pure Clan galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break under exercise rider Steve Schmelzel on Monday morning.
Trainer Bob Holthus said Pure Clan would go to the track after the break Tuesday so that Lewis Lakin, who owns the filly in partnership with IEAH Stable and Pegasus Holding Group Stable, can watch the filly train before going to the post position draw.
With rain in the forecast for Friday, Holthus was asked how an off track would affect Pure Clan, who never has raced on one.
“I think she will handle it,” Holthus said. “We have trained her on an off track at Oaklawn Park and I breezed her on an off track a time or two.
“With this track, it has to be raining for it to be muddy. What I have heard is there may be rain Friday morning and by the time they run the Oaks it ought to be fast.”
RASIERRA – Lloyd DeBruycker’s Rasierra, who would be a $25,000 supplemental entry to the Kentucky Oaks, worked a bullet half-mile in :46.60 over a fast track before the renovation break Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Jamie Theriot was aboard the daughter of Kafwain, who is being conditioned at Churchill Downs by Cody Autrey.
“I don’t know if we are going yet, but she worked unbelievably,” said Autrey, who has had the filly at Churchill Downs for two weeks after Ray Tracy had her this spring. “I had her going five-eighths in :58 and three and galloping out in 1:12 and two. She only took two sips of water when she came back.”
Autrey was asked what his recommendation would be to DeBruycker.
“I’d run in the Oaks,” Autrey said. “I watched Eight Belles and Proud Spell work yesterday and she worked just as good as they did. I think they actually broke off a little faster than she did and Eight Belles galloped out in 1:12 and three.”
Theriot would have the Oaks mount if the filly goes in Friday’s mile and an eighth test.