01/19/2011 4:18PM

Apart, Aide seek to regain form in weekend Fair Grounds stakes

Lou Hodges Jr.
Apart will try to regain his form in Saturday's Louisiana Handicap.

NEW ORLEANS – Al Stall called out instructions to the riders aboard a set of horses waiting on the racetrack alongside the outside fence before breaking off into their training regimens Wednesday morning To one exercise rider Stall said, “Regular,” but the rider shook his head and held up one finger, signifying one lap around, not the regular routine to which Stall had referred.

“That’s right, that’s right,” said Stall, who had been away from his Fair Grounds string the last two mornings while in Florida for the Eclipse Awards. “Two days away and you get out of your rhythm.”

Stall is hoping that on Saturday, Apart and Aide will get back into theirs. Apart figures to start as a defined favorite in the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap, a big step down in class from his most recent appearance in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, where he finished eighth of 11 at odds of 7-2 on Nov. 26. Aide is one of eight horses in the $100,000 Silverbulletday Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. She can win if she runs back to the form she showed capturing a Churchill Downs route allowance race by almost 20 lengths on Oct. 31, but not if she runs like she did in the Nov. 27 Golden Rod, in which Aide came home a distant fourth of seven. The two horses, both bred and owned by Adele Dilschneider, have worked together twice at Fair Grounds preparing for their 2011 debut, and Garrett Gomez rides both of them Saturday.

“They both need to answer questions they put in our minds with their last races,” said Stall.

Apart had won the Prelude and Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, and the Ack Ack at Churchill heading into the Clark. But the Ack Ack came up only three weeks before the Clark, and Stall said he had an inkling of concern about the fairly quick turnaround.

“I thought with him it might have been too much, too soon,” Stall said. “My gut feeling after the Ack Ack was it was a hard race. But we were shooting so good then we didn’t think we could lose a race.”

Aide raced on cruise control during her allowance race blowout, but might have gotten too keyed up early in the Golden Rod.

“We were all surprised by what she did, Garrett, too,” said Stall. “She latched onto the bit 40 yards into the race and didn’t let go.”

Stall seemed totally at ease two days after watching Zenyatta be named Horse of the Year over his horse, Blame. The Eclipse awards and the Horse of the Year announcement should just about put a cap on Blame’s rich racetrack history with Stall. Yet in his Fair Grounds barn lives a filly named Might. She’s a full sister to Blame, and on Wednesday morning just after the renovation break, she worked five furlongs from the gate in a near-bullet 59.80 seconds.

Carroll tends to ailing wife

Up in Louisville, David Carroll will be tuned in to the Colonel Bradley Handicap here Saturday, watching to see how a horse in his stable, Joinem, stacks up in his stakes debut. And that is a welcome turn of events.

When Joinem earned his way into the Bradley with a second-level turf allowance victory here Dec. 16, Carroll hardly was paying heed. His wife, Kim, was in the hospital, only recently showing signs of getting the better of the acute promyelocytic leukemia that had suddenly stricken her a couple weeks earlier. Kim Carroll came home from the hospital Jan. 9 and remains on the road to recovery, though the road, right now, is painful. She is undergoing chemotherapy treatments five times weekly and will do so through the end of January. David, who spent as much time as he could with Kim at the hospital, takes her to treatment every day, and has become the primary caregiver for his two school-age children. Racetrack work, in which he and Kim participated jointly (she is the stable’s bookkeeper), has been recontextualized since Kim’s illness.

“I’ve learned that it’s not as hard or important as it used to be,” Carroll said. “But it’s what we do, so we do miss it.”

Carroll has leaned heavily during his wife’s illness on assistant trainer Stuart Clilverd. Clilverd, a 35-year-old native of London who has worked six years for Carroll, had been at Fair Grounds a week, setting up shop here while the boss finished out the Churchill meet in late November, when his phone rang.

“Dave called me up and said the last load of horses was coming down, but he wasn’t going to be able to make it,” Clilverd said. “It’s just been learn as you go.”

Carroll said he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to resume full-time training. He hopes to look in on his Fair Grounds string sometime in February if, as is hoped, Kim gets a break from her chemotherapy.

So far, Joinem, never worse than second in five career starts, looks like the best of the New Orleans bunch. “I’m looking forward to him running just to see what kind of horse he is,” Carroll said.

Looking forward – that’s a good thing for the Carroll family right now.

Chloe Kate may scratch from Silverbulletday

Out of nowhere the north wind kicked up and sheets of rain pelted Fair Grounds on Tuesday evening. The torrent made it possible that turf races on Thursday’s card would be moved to dirt, and if that happens, expect to see 3-year-old filly Chloe Kate in Thursday’s seventh, an entry-level allowance, rather than in the Silverbulletday Stakes, for which she also was entered.

“I think we’ll run tomorrow if it comes off,” trainer Neil Howard said Wednesday. “If it doesn’t, we’ll most likely run Saturday.”

Chloe Kate notched one of the meet’s more impressive maiden wins in a two-turn dirt race Dec. 20.

Howard also reported that the 3-year-old Machen came out of his excellent debut win Jan. 2 in good condition. Machen ran a swift six furlongs winning by more than five lengths, and was back on the work tab with a three-furlong breeze just nine days after his race. On Tuesday, Machen worked five furlongs in 1:03. Howard said Machen would move into allowance competition for his next start.