06/11/2006 11:00PM

Buzzards Bay gets green light for Foster


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Buzzards Bay is coming to the Stephen Foster Handicap. Trainer Ron Ellis decided Sunday that circumstances were right to send Buzzards Bay on a charter flight Monday to Churchill Downs, where the colt will be a co-topweight and quite possibly the favorite Saturday in the Grade 1 Foster.

Ellis had been debating whether to keep Buzzards Bay, owned by Gary Broad, at Hollywood Park for the Grade 2, $250,000 Californian on Saturday, or send him to the $750,000 Foster. But after assessing the competition and the Louisville weather forecast, which is supposed to be relatively mild, he ultimately decided to ship.

"It'd be nice to win the Californian, but we need to go for a Grade 1," said Ellis. "If we run in the Californian and then the Hollywood Gold Cup," a Grade 1 race on July 8, "we'd be going against Lava Man, and I don't know if I want to do that yet. The way it shaped up, I'd rather run in just one race, and take a shot at a Grade 1 where it looks like we have a good chance."

Buzzards Bay, a 4-year-old Florida-bred colt, has been sensational in winning his last two starts, earning a 108 Beyer Speed Figure in the Feb. 20 All American Handicap at Golden Gate Fields and a 110 Beyer in the April 8 Oaklawn Handicap. He has been working sharply in recent weeks at Hollywood, with his final pre-Foster drill coming Saturday in 1:26.60 for seven furlongs.

Buzzards Bay, with Jose Valdivia Jr. to ride, will carry 121 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Foster. Brass Hat, the local standout who will be making his first start since finishing second in the March 25 Dubai World Cup, also will carry 121 when ridden by Willie Martinez.

Others definite for the Foster are Perfect Drift, 118; Wanderin Boy, 117; Love of Money, 115; Master Command, 115; Wild Desert, 115; and Wiggins, 114. West Virginia, M B Sea, and Seek Gold are possible.

Five other stakes on Foster card

The 25th running of the Foster is the highlight of what will be a blockbuster card Saturday, when five other stakes are on tap. Here is a brief rundown of each:

* Grade 2, $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap: Happy Ticket was scheduled to arrive Monday from Louisiana and will be a co-topweight with Oonagh Maccool. Both will carry 120 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, which is shaping up with a small field of fillies and mares.

* Grade 2, $200,000 Jefferson Cup: Storm Treasure will be one of the favorites in this 1 1/8-mile grass race when he makes his first start since finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby. Other probables include Brilliant, Mercurius, Tahoe Warrior, and Yate's Black Cat. Trainer Mark Casse said Monday that another Derby holdover, Seaside Retreat, is doubtful to run.

* Grade 3, $200,000 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup: Private Vow, High Cotton, Circle the World, and Dontfearthereaper are among the 3-year-olds likely for this 1 1/16-mile race.

* Grade 3, $200,000 Regret: Baghdaria, Fiery Dancer, and Precious Kitten are expected among a sizable field of 3-year-old fillies for this 1 1/8-mile grass race.

* Grade 3, $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap: Wend, scratched Saturday from the Just a Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard, is a good possibility for this 1 1/16-mile turf race, in which she would start as the 120-pound highweight and surely as the favorite. Flying Glitter (119) and Rich in Spirit (118) are among the other probables.

The six graded stakes will make up the entire pick six (races 6 through 11), concluding an 11-race card. The Fleur de Lis tentatively is scheduled as the ninth, the Foster as the 10th, and the Mint Julep the 11th. Besides the pick six, Churchill also is offering a $250,000 guaranteed pool on the final pick four (races 8-11).

Derby jockeys to sign autographs

Six Kentucky Derby-winning jockeys will be here Saturday to be honored during daylong festivities: Jerry Bailey, Don Brumfield, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron, and Jacinto Vasquez. Starting at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, the jockeys will be available for autographs during a 2 1/2-hour session in the Paddock Pavilion, after which a special presentation will be held in the winner's circle.

Focusing on the jockeys is a new spin on the old Derby Alumni Day concept, which Churchill abandoned several years ago. One of the enduring traditions from Alumni Day is the presentation of the engraved Derby trophy to the winning owners from six weeks earlier, but Churchill spokesman John Asher said it does not appear that Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, will be here Saturday to accept their trophy.

"The invitation has been extended, but as of yet we have not gotten any confirmation," Asher said Sunday.

Romans reaches 1,000 milestone

Dale Romans notched his 1,000th career victory Sunday when Haiaccept, ridden by Rene Douglas and owned by longtime client Frank Jones Jr., won the sixth race, a six-furlong event for $8,000 claimers.

Romans, who began his career by going 0 for 52 in 1986, thanked Jones afterward. Jones was a client of Romans's father, trainer Jerry Romans, who died in 2001.

"I thought it'd be fitting that either Frank or Mr. Ramsey would get this," said Romans, referring to Ken Ramsey, his biggest client. "Frank's always been there for me. I thought it was great for all of us."

According to Equibase statistics, the win by Haiaccept was No. 999 for Romans, but those numbers do not count overseas wins. Romans got the richest victory of his career when Roses in May captured the $6 million Dubai World Cup in 2005.

Amoss streak ends one shy of record

All good things must end, and so it was for Tom Amoss on Saturday, when the trainer sent out Roma Royale to a second-place finish as the favorite in the second race Saturday. Before that, Amoss had sent out eight straight winners at Churchill, tying the second-longest streak in track history.

Amoss began his streak with two victories on June 1 and kept it going through Friday, when he also won two. The eight-race streak fell two short of the mark set last year by trainer Joe Woodard. Pat Byrne also sent out eight straight winners at Churchill at the 1997 spring meet.

Entering Wednesday, the hot streak gave Amoss a 13-for-34 record at the meet, good for third in wins at this meet behind Romans (26) and Todd Pletcher (15).

Change Up impressive maiden winner

Trainer Steve Flint has a hot prospect on his hands in Change Up, a 2-year-old filly who won a maiden special weight race by six lengths here Saturday. Change Up, who was beaten a nose in her career debut May 5, is by Distorted Humor out of the mare Round Robin. Both Change Up and Round Robin are owned by Bert, Elaine, and Richard Klein.

Round Robin, now 10, won the Astoria Stakes at Belmont in July 1998, when Steve Flint was still working for his father, trainer Bernie Flint.

"Round Robin was a real runner, and so is this filly," said Steve Flint.

Change Up ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.55. The next day, Shermanesque took 1:04.79 to complete the same distance when she defeated a full field of 2-year-old colts and geldings.

* Apprentice Randall Toups began riding with a five-pound allowance after he posted his 40th career win in the second race Friday. Toups, 17, had been riding with the seven-pound allowance afforded apprentices following their fifth career victory.

* Perhaps as a precursor to Foster Day, the nine-race card here Wednesday is solid. Besides the $62,000 feature (race 8), the program also includes two strong turf races (races 5 and 7).

* Entries are being drawn a day earlier than usual this week, meaning entries for Saturday will be drawn Wednesday. The normal draw schedule resumes Sunday for Wednesday, June 21.