Barn Notes from Churchill Downs
As a Kentucky-born lover of Thoroughbred racing, Beau Greely counts his Kentucky Derby Day victory by Manndar in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) as one of the special moments in his young career. But that victory could drop a notch on his personal highlight reel if he has the Breeders' Cup Day he is hoping for at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
The 29-year-old Greely, a trainer for just three years, hopes to saddle two major contenders in the $13 million championship. Manndar will be a among the favorites in the $2 million Turf (GI) and Five Star Day, winner of the Phoenix Breeders' Cup (GIII) at Keeneland, will be among the choices in the $1 million Sprint (GI). But Five Star Day, owned by Columbine Stable and Kitchwa Stables, was excluded from the Sprint last year and finds himself at the mercy of the Breeders' Cup Selection Committee again this year.
"I don't see any reason he shouldn't get in the Breeders' Cup and I would think they'll let him in this year," said Greely. "You run 1:07 and win by five, that's a pretty big race."
Despite Greely's confidence, the race was just the second of the year for Five Star Day, who went to the sidelines in January after he suffered a hairline fracture of his left hind leg. He did not return to competition until late August, when he finished second to the veteran Old Topper in a Del Mar allowance race. That race set him up for his big effort at Keeneland and Greely is hoping that race will be enough to sway members of the selection committee in his direction -- something he was unable to do last year when Five Star Day was forced to run in a stakes race on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Gulfstream.
"That was frustrating, but you live and you learn," Greely said. "Maybe at the end of the day it was for the better. Who knows? He looks to me that he's coming back a better horse this year."
Greely's biggest hope for the Breeders' Cup is Columbine Stable's Manndar, who has not raced since he finished a troubled second behind Chester House in the Arlington Million (GI) on Aug. 19. The 4-year-old colt arrived at Churchill Downs from California on Wednesday and was out for a gallop over the main track on Thursday morning under exercise rider Andy Durnin. Current plans call for the son of Doyoun to work over the Churchill Downs turf course on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Greely said Manndar came out of the Arlington Million with a slight lung infection, which prompted him to decide to train the colt up to his date in the 1 1/2-mile Turf rather than rush him into another race.
"I could have done it, but I would have been pressed to make another race and he runs so well fresh," he said. "He trains very well on his own, so I don't think that fitness is going to be a problem."
Along with his Woodford Reserve win at Churchill and his unlucky run in the Arlington Million, Manndar also won the Manhattan (GI) at Belmont to establish his credentials as one of America's top turf runners. Now Greely's star will get the chance to see where he fits with the best in the world.
"He's got a run over the course and a win over it," said Greely. "He obviously likes this track and, to me, that's an advantage over the Europeans. He's been here and he's been in this environment and that helps a lot."
A Breeders' Cup win -- or two -- would be a heady experience for Greely, a fourth-generation trainer who currently has 22 horses in his care. Along with his Breeders' Cup contenders, Greely has two other horses at Churchill Downs. He plans to run Pacific Heritage Farm's Elderberry in the $200,000-added Churchill Downs Distaff (GII) on the Breeders' Cup undercard and Columbine Stable, Tom Nichols and Jay M. Jones, Jr.'s Takarian in the $150,000-added River City (GIII) on the day after the Cup.More Than Ready, Trippi Are Kentucky Bound Next Week
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Trippi and More Than Ready in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, said the pair will have their final New York tuneup either Sunday or Monday at Belmont Park.
"They'll go five furlongs, and ship to Kentucky Tuesday," said Pletcher.
Pletcher said that while both horses continue to do extremely well, the Sprint has proven one of the toughest races to win.
"It's a very very hard race to win anytime," he said. "The 3-year-olds have been holding their form awfully well, which shows how strong this crop of 3-year-olds is. It's ebbed and flowed through the year -- before the Kentucky Derby everyone thought it was one of the greatest, and after Red Bullet lost the Dwyer it went the other way -- but at the end of the day I think we'll see how good they are."
In addition to the two sprinters, Pletcher will also be taking Pico Teneriffe to Churchill Downs.
"At this stage we're planning on running her in the Filly and Mare Turf," said the trainer.Raging Fever To Arrive In Louisville Monday
-- The undefeated filly Raging Fever, 5-for-5 including a pair of Grade I's and a Grade II, is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs Monday for her engagement in the Juvenile Fillies, said trainer Mark Hennig.
"I'm excited," said the trainer. "Anytime you have a horse with this kind of record, and you have to opportunity to maybe finish out the year in the same fashion, it's great. I'm looking forward to getting there. Fortunately, we have our barn at Churchill Downs so all she'll have to do is walk into her stall. We don't have to set up or anything."
Hennig said he thinks the two turns of the Juvenile Fillies will be to Raging Fever's benefit.
"I've said all along I think two turns will help her settle," he said.
Hennig added that his other 2-year-old filly, Gold Mover, will either go in the Pocahantas at Churchill Downs or remain in New York to try the Tempted Stakes.
"It's a big stretch from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16th-miles," he said. "The time off over the summer helped her, she filled out nicely, and I don't want to undo it all."City Zip Still Pointing For Juvenile
-- City Zip, who finished seventh in the Champagne, came out of the race with a respiratory infection but trainer Linda Rice said the colt is still being pointed toward the Juvenile.
"He went back to the track after missing a couple of days," said Rice. "We treated him with a series of antibiotics and a bronchial dilator. We're planning on shipping Tuesday."Churchill Downs Barn Talk
-- Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said a planned Friday work for 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic (GI) winner Cat Thief has been postponed until Monday or Tuesday. Lukas said Distaff hopeful Surfside, runner-up in Keeneland's recent Raven Run Stakes, may work on Sunday...Kentucky Derby winner and Classic contender Fusaichi Pegasus was out before sunrise for trainer Neil Drysdale on Thursday. Drysdale said the colt "trotted" a mile and galloped a mile with Andy Durnin in the irons. Stablemate War Chant, whose win in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup (GII) made him a major contender for the Breeders' Cup Mile (GI), arrived at Churchill Downs on Wednesday and trotted over the main track on Thursday.