Michael Tabor's Lion Tamer drew the outside post 9 for Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The son of Will's Way, who will be making his first start beyond seven furlongs, was installed the 6-5 morning live favorite by Mike Battaglia. Second-choice Champali, the local hope for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will break from post 2.
Lion Tamer, bred in Kentucky by Paul Smith, has won three of four lifetime starts and is two-for-two as a sophomore. He made his 3-year-old debut in fine style, crushing an entry-level allowance field by 7 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4. He returned Feb. 15 in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs and pulled away to a six-length score. The Lane's End will make for his first start around two turns for trainer Todd Pletcher.
For Pletcher, Lion Tamer drilled a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00 at the Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday. He was scheduled to fly into Louisville and arrive at Turfway Park early Thursday afternoon. John Velazquez, who has been aboard in all four of his starts, will handle the assignment.
Lion Tamer, out of the Olympio mare Tippecanoe Creek, was an $180,000 purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July yearling sale in 2001.
Champali, whose name was unofficially derived from the boxing legend, enters the Lane's End on a three-race winning streak--all stakes over the local Turfway surface. A son of Glitterman, out of the Dixieland Band mare Radioactivity, Champali won the Turfway Park Prevue Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 4, then won the one-mile WEBN Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. In his final Lane's End prep, the bay colt took the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths. His last two wins have come over Chicken Soup Kid, another Lane's End entrant.
Trainer Greg Foley has kept Champali in northern Kentucky over the winter by design, with his sites set firmly on the Lane's End. "Everyone thinks you have to get a 3-year-old ready in Florida or New Orleans," Foley said. "Other than the first race (Turfway Prevue), the races haven't been that hard on him. Now, we have a sound, happy horse going into the race."
Champali, a $75,000 Keeneland September purchase, races for Lloyd Madison Farms IV racing syndicate, which consists of Tim Sweeney and Fred Schwartz of Madison, Wisc. Rob Lloyd of Louisville is the racing manager. A winner of six of seven starts and $250,474 lifetime, Champali accounted for the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs at two.
William Carl's homebred Saintly Look looks to get back on track in the Lane's End after a dull fifth-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16. Trainer Dallas Stewart noted Saintly Look came out of the Risen Star with a temperature, but has responded in recent days. The colt is currently at Stewart's base at Churchill Downs and will van to Turfway on race day.
Saintly Look, by Southern Halo, out of the Roman Majesty mare Sensational Eyes, won the Sugar Bowl Stakes and Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) in New Orleans prior to the Risen Star. A good performance on Saturday puts the colt back on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. Shane Sellers rides.
The Lane's End won't be without a D. Wayne Lukas-trained 3-year-old thanks to Ozzie Cat, an Overbrook Farm homebred by Storm Cat. A winner of just one of 10 starts, Ozzie Cat has been pitched against the best in his last three starts: a second-place finish in the Golden Gate Derby (gr. III), an eighth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (gr. I), and a seven-place effort in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). His lone win came in the mud at Keeneland last October going about seven furlongs.
Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, $500,000, Turfway Park, Saturday, March 22
PP, Horse, Jockey, ML
1, Saintly Look, Shane Sellers, 9-2
2, Champali, Jason Lumpkins, 7-2
3, Lots of Sizzle, Luis Rivera Jr., 30-1
4, Ozzie Cat, Martin Pedroza, 15-1
5, Wendlar, Perry Outz, 30-1
6, New York Hero, Noberto Arroyo Jr., 30-1
7, Chicken Soup Kid, Brian Peck, 20-1
8, Eugene's Third Son, Pat Day, 4-1
9, Lion Tamer, John Velazquez, 6-5