Sunday, December 14, 2014

Barn Notes: Sunday, December 14



                        Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255


Barn Notes:  Sunday, December 14, 2014                                                                                      

·        Three Stakes Winners Clash in Blushing K. D. Thursday

·        Eagle Looking to Land in Lecomte

·        Silver-spooned Forever Unbridled Silverbulletday-bound



            Led by a potent two-filly entry from the barn of Neil Pessin and owner Lothenbach Stables, Thursday’s $50,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes has drawn an accomplished field of fillies and mares.  The 1 1/16-miles turf race attracted three stakes winners – including two multiple stakes winners – as well as two stakes-placed fillies and three multiple-allowance winners.


            Trainer Neil Pessin has entered the darling of his stable, 4-year-old Eden Prairie.  Third last out in Treasure Chest Stakes around Delta Downs’ tight turns, the daughter of Mizzen Mast may appreciate a return to the same grass course that saw her annex last year’s Pago Hop Stakes and Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap in succession.  Three-for-five over said sod, the graded stakes-placed dark bay charge looks to break a seven-race losing skid.  Florent Geroux will ride from the three-post. 


            Eden Prairie’s entrymate Distorted Music is the enigma of the field.  Lightly raced and never worse than third in six starts, the 4-year-old $190,000 Keeneland September 2011 purchase has been nothing short of outstanding in her three wins – including a five-length optional claiming win last out on Nov. 21 at Churchill Downs and an allowance win sprinting over Arlington International Racecourse’s Polytrack surface on Sept. 5.  A daughter of Distorted Humor out of a half-sister to multiple Grade/Group I winners Music Note and Musical Chimes, she is unproven on the grass but all signs in her pedigree suggest it should not be too much to ask. 


            Adding class to the Blushing K. D. field is Brittlyn Stable’s aptly named Class Included.  Seventh in the Treasure Chest, the daughter of Include should appreciate a return to the New Orleans oval’s grass surface over which she is two-for-two, including last year’s Blushing K. D. and Bayou Handicaps – the latter in which she bested Eden Prairie.  From the barn of 28% trainer Ron Faucheux, she feasibly could improve under the meet’s second-leading rider Miguel Mena in her second race following a five-month layoff.


The meet-leading duo of trainer Tom Amoss and jockey James Graham team up with Jerry Namy’s Malibu Yankee, a winner of the $100,000 Opelousas Stakes at Evangeline Downs in June over the same distance as the Blushing K. D.  The daughter of Malibu Moon has hit the board in 15 of her 22 starts, but will try to improve upon a dull effort in a Keeneland allowance last out behind Grade II winner Emotional Kitten.  The 5-year-old dark bay mare breaks from post six.


            Stakes-placed fillies Flashy Gal and Interest Free have entered for the high-profile connections of Gary and Mary West and William S. Farish, respectively.  The former, from the barn of Wayne Catalano, returns to the grass after a poor dirt effort in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs Nov. 30.  On the grass, the daughter of Smart Strike has hit the board eight of 12 times.  Neil Howard-trained Interest Free makes her turf debut, but is a daughter of Exchange Rate, whose 2014 grass performers include Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner-up Sunset Glow and graded stakes winner Excaper, who was second in Saturday’s El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park and was also the runner-up in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2011. 


            The remaining two in the Blushing K. D. field hail from the two very dangerous barns of Mike Stidham and Mike Maker.  Stidham, who is batting 26% at the meet, will saddle Hilary Pridham’s One Time Only for the first time.  Previously trained by Philip Serpe, the 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid worked a bullet four furlongs on Dec. 7 in :47.60 and enters off a poor performance in October’s Ticonderoga Stakes at Belmont Park behind Grade I winner Discreet Marq.  Leading national owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey have entered the Maker-trained multiple allowance winner Kitten’s Queen, who comes off a third-place finish in the same off-the-turf allowance as Flashy Gal at Churchill Downs.  The daughter of Kitten’s Joy will no doubt appreciate the return to the grass. 


            The Blushing K. D. goes as sixth race on a competitive nine-race card with an approximate post time of 3:50 p.m.



            As the weeks wind down on the year, the focus increases on younger horses and especially those with an eye on the Louisiana Derby and eventually the Triple Crown.  One locally based colt who looks like a prime contender for the classics is William S. Farish’s emblazoned chestnut.  The son of red-hot sire Candy Ride put in his first local work on Friday, Dec. 12, negotiating four furlongs in :49.40 for conditioner Neil Howard – who also trained the colt’s damsire, Horse of the Year Mineshaft.


“He’s doing well,” Howard said. “The plan is obviously the 3-year-old races here, starting out in the (Grade III $200,000) Lecomte (Stakes on Jan. 17).”


With only four races to his name, the Kentucky-bred charge has accounted well for himself, including a maiden and allowance win, a solid allowance second and a third last out in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs – losing by only three-quarters of a length.  One race prior to that, Eagle bested a quality allowance field at Keeneland, including Eoin Harty’s highly regarded colt My Johnny Be Good.


“I would cautiously say that each race has been better,” Howard said.  “I’m never overzealous.  I expected him to run well (in the Kentucky Jockey Club), especially with his body of work up to that point.  I would have been disappointed if he didn’t run well.  I didn’t know if I was bringing the best horse over there, but I thought he was one of the top three and I thought he ran well.”


Howard, who has won one Lecomte, two Risen Stars and two Louisiana Derbies – in addition to a Preakness Stakes and a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby – knows how to prepare a promising sophomore for the spring at the New Orleans oval. 


“He’ll have a couple maintenance breezes like (Friday),” he explained.  “I’ll probably work him once a week for the time being and then we’ll start focusing and getting serious as we get closer to the Lecomte.  He’s plenty fit and not a big heavy horse.”


            As far as any similarities between the young upstart and his champion and four-time Grade I-winning grandfather, Howard was kind enough to oblige. 


“It’s hard to compare any horse to Mineshaft,” he said.  “Early on, (Eagle) didn’t take after Mineshaft, but now he is starting to.  He had a few behavioral things and was messing around.  If he’s mischievous now, it’s more in a pleasant way.  He has really settled down nicely in that way.”  





            Friday’s card saw regally bred 2-year-old filly Forever Unbridled serve notice that the waters on the way to the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks are getting deeper with a stylish 2¼-length two-turn maiden victory.  The daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever was bet down to 1-2 favoritism after an excellent debut runner-up finish on Nov. 9 to highly regarded Silverpocketsfull at Churchill Downs going 6½ furlongs.  On Friday she made an agile move to pounce and pass rival Thoughtless under jockey Brian Hernandez for trainer Dallas Stewart owner and breeder Charles Fipke. 


“We have big plans for her, for sure,” said Stewart, who also trained Lemons Forever.  “She came out of it good and we’ll take the same path we took with her sister.  We’ll look at the Silverbulletday on Jan. 17 with her.”


Said sister, the similarly named Unbridled Forever, came into last year’s Fair Grounds meet already with a win to her credit – also in her second start – at Churchill Downs and won the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday with an exciting turn of foot over Larry Jones’ gifted trainee Divine Beauty.  The bay filly would go on to place in three consecutive Grade I races – the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks – as well as finish a respectable fifth when last seen on the racetrack in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff.  Forever Unbridled bears a striking resemblance to her sister, though Stewart is quick to point out the disparities between the two ace siblings. 


“(Forever Unbridled) looks like her sister, but has a bigger neck and is actually a little taller with a longer hind leg,” he explained.  “She’s made well to run a distance.  She dug in her first time doing it and really galloped out well. Brian rode her perfectly.”




This Churchill Downs Incorporated communication (including any attachments) is intended for the use of the intended recipient(s) only and may contain information that is confidential, privileged or legally protected. Any unauthorized use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately notify the sender by return e-mail message and delete all copies of the original communication. Thank you for your cooperation.