02/10/2011 3:56PM

Chamberlain Bridge starting year in Rail Splitter at Sam Houston

Reed Palmpe Photography/Churchill Downs
Chamberlain Bridge, Jamie Thierot up, wins the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

Houston to Dubai. That’s that goal for Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge, who will launch his 2011 campaign Saturday night at Sam Houston in the $75,000 Rail Splitter. If things go well for the horse, it will be on to the Group 2, $1 million Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Race Course in Dubai on March 26.

The Rail Splitter, at five furlongs on turf, drew a full field of 10 older horses. The race will be Chamberlain Bridge’s first since the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. He had been intended to begin his season next weekend, in the $60,000 Colonel Power at Fair Grounds, but because of some inconsistent weather patterns in the region lately his connections decided it prudent to target the Rail Splitter.

Bret Calhoun, who trains Chamberlain Bridge for Carl Moore, said he feels good about the horse’s fitness heading into Saturday.

“He worked three-quarters [of a mile] this past weekend, and he seems to be very ready,” Calhoun said. “He’s been right on schedule. Obviously, we’d been pointed toward the race next weekend. He was to have one more work this weekend and run next weekend. But it’s no problem. I feel he’s ready.”

Chamberlain Bridge is the class of the Rail Splitter as a Grade 2 winner of more than $1.5 million. He will be ridden by Jamie Theriot, who was also aboard for the horse’s 1 1/2-length win in the Breeders’ Cup.

“It was a huge effort,” Calhoun said of the championship race. “What he overcame to get there was unbelievable. Jamie did a great job on him, and the horse ran a phenomenal race, being trapped on the rail and working his way through traffic. He was able to find a seam turning for home and got out, and the rest is history.”

Calhoun said the effort was even more significant because it came on the end of a long campaign in which Chamberlain Bridge had to travel a good deal to find the proper races as a turf sprint specialist. He won stakes last year in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.

“As a turf sprinter you have to pack your bags and get on the road a bunch,” said Calhoun.

Chamberlain Bridge will break from post 5.

The chief threat could be Goldzar, who was fourth in the $60,000 Bonapaw at Fair Grounds on Dec. 18. Shane Sellers will be in to ride for trainer Deryl Granger.