11/10/2010 12:10PM

Bridgetown moves into Pletcher's barn

Barbara D. Livingston
Bridgetown has been transferred from Ken McPeek to Todd Pletcher.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Eugene Melnyk has transferred a string of five horses at Churchill Downs from Ken McPeek to Todd Pletcher, most notably Bridgetown, the fourth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last weekend.

Bridgetown ran a big race at nearly 14-1 in the BC Turf Sprint when he moved strongly to challenge the race-long front-runner, Central City, in midstretch, only to fade in the final stages to finish 2 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Chamberlain Bridge.

Bridgetown, a 3-year-old by Speightstown, was the runner-up in the 2009 BC Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita and had won two minor turf-sprint stakes this year.

“When the horse came to us last year, I don’t think he was particularly well regarded, so I’m proud of what we did with him,” said McPeek. “I’m fine with the decision by Mr. Melnyk. I’m in the service business, and these things happen. We’ll keep grinding.”

Melnyk, the Canadian tycoon who runs a powerhouse stable on several fronts and perennially ranks among the top owners in North America, was among the first owners to give horses to Pletcher when the future Hall of Famer opened his public stable in 1996. The other four horses moved Tuesday to Pletcher are not highly accomplished.

Pletcher had the only other 3-year-old in the Turf Sprint: the filly Rose Catherine, who ran seventh of 14.

This is not the first time an owner with an outstanding 3-year-old took him from McPeek to give to Pletcher. It also happened in the summer of 2002 with Harlan’s Holiday, who ended his career with earnings of more than $3.6 million.

Yankee Fourtune heads lineup for Commonwealth

Yankee Fourtune, an impressive even-money winner of the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby last month, heads a full field of 3-year-olds entered to clash here Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Commonwealth Stakes.

Yankee Fourtune, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has won all four of his turf starts, ending with the Hawthorne Derby. He breezed Sunday at Belmont Park in final preparation of the Commonwealth, which goes at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Other notables in a deep lineup include Canadian invaders Don Cavallo and Stormy Lord; Turallure and Dark Cove, both on a three-race win streak; Mystic, a sharp recent allowance winner at Keeneland for Bill Mott; and Beau Choix, third in the Grade 1 Jamaica at Belmont last out for Barclay Tagg.

The Commonwealth is the lone stakes here this weekend, while its sister race, the $175,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes, is set for the following Saturday. The Commonwealth was won last year by Get Stormy.

◗ Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel will be honored Saturday after the races with the Warner L. Jones Jr. Horsemen of the Year Award by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners, Inc. Tickets to the 22nd annual KTO Awards Dinner at the Kentucky Derby Museum are $125. More information is available at (502) 458-5820. Borel is only the second jockey to be honored by the organization, following Pat Day in 1992.

◗ This coming weekend is the one when Churchill is partnering with the University of Louisville for the first time in an all-sports weekend. For $25, fans can attend the Louisville-South Florida football game at nearby Papa John’s Stadium on Saturday, then receive Skye Terrace seating and a commemorative fleece sweatshirt here Sunday. A number of other cross-promotions are scheduled at both venues.

◗ This Friday’s card will be the only regular one of the meet, so to speak. The first Friday (Nov. 5) was a Breeders’ Cup day, while subsequent Fridays will mark the meet’s only evening card (Nov. 19, first post, 4:30 p.m. Eastern) and the always-popular Clark Handicap Day (Nov. 26), when easily the largest crowd of the meet turns out, not counting Breeders’ Cup.

◗ Ten $1,000 college scholarships will be raffled off throughout the Friday card during a once-a-meet promotion co-sponsored by Churchill and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Registered students must be present to win.