06/11/2010 12:00AM

Big double for small-time trainer


Michael Thompson has been a licensed trainer even since before he graduated from high school in Louisville in 1977. In all that time, he hasn't gotten many bigger thrills than the one he got here Thursday.

Thompson, who operates a six-horse stable at the nearby Trackside training center, swept the late daily double when Irish Witch ($38.20) won the co-featured eighth race as the longest shot in the field and Bk's Sis' Birthday ($18) rolled to victory in the ninth. The $2 double paid $378.40.

Thompson, 51, has 221 career victories.

"We're all happy as hell," he said the next morning. "Everybody in the barn did well. I've had days like that a few times, but this had to be one of the best."

Crupper has fast debut winner

Allen Crupper is hoping lightning strikes twice. A Lexington-based trainer, Crupper ran a flashy first-time winner here recently and is hoping to parlay it into a major score.

Crupper sent out Tater Taunter, a $20,000 yearling purchase for owner Perry Harrison, to win her career debut in a well-stocked sprint for 2-year-old maiden fillies here June 5.

"We'll sell if the price is right," said Crupper. "We think she's an awfully good filly."

Last fall, Crupper and his brother, Keith, sold a $5,000 purchase named Tiz Chrome for a huge profit to clients of Bob Baffert after the colt won his debut in impressive fashion. Tiz Chrome developed into a fringe player on the Triple Crown trail before ultimately suffering fatal injuries here in late April.

Romero, Turcotte back at the track

Several autograph sessions featuring retired and active jockeys will be held here Sunday.

The first 2,500 customers will receive a free set of jockey trading cards, which will be available for signing from 11 a.m. to noon in the Paddock Pavilion. The pavilion also is where Randy Romero, newly elected to the Racing Hall of Fame, will sign copies of his autobiography, "Randy Romero's Remarkable Ride."

Also, Ron Turcotte will be selling and signing bobbleheads in his likeness Sunday outside the Churchill gift shop. The limited-edition bobbleheads of Secretariat's jockey sell for $50, with portions of the funds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

* Seats remain open for the Texas hold 'em poker tournament here Tuesday at 6 p.m. Buy-in is $125, with as much as $7,500 going to the winner. Proceeds benefit a new scholarship fund honoring the late trainer, William "Blackie" Huffman. More information is available at (502) 363-1077 or (502) 636-4830.