06/06/2012 12:07PM

Churchhill Downs: Turf feature offers two varieties of 'Wine'


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Like many other trainers at Churchill Downs, Steve Margolis is rooting for I’ll Have Another to win the Belmont Stakes in the belief that “it would be good for the game” to have a Triple Crown winner.

“The horse has certainly done everything right, and Doug O’Neill is a real nice guy,” said Margolis.

Before he goes looking for a television set to watch the race Saturday evening, Margolis will bide his time at Churchill by running some of his own horses, including a $475,000 yearling purchase named Wine Princess, one of the top contenders in the $59,800 feature Friday evening.
Wine Princess is by Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and out of Horse of the Year Azeri. She has made two starts, running second in a 5 1/2-furlong turf race at Fair Grounds in March and winning a one-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.

“She ran a big race on Oaks Day,” said Margolis. “We’d been waiting for the right kind of race for her, and that was it. Now we’re moving back to the turf, which is more a result of timing than anything else. I’ve had a chance to work her over it a couple times, and she really moves beautifully over the grass, too. She’s got a lot of class to her. Hopefully this race Friday can be a nice stepping-stone for her.”

Wine Princess, with Shaun Bridgmohan back to ride, is part of an oversubscribed field entered in the 10th of 11 Friday races. First post is 2:45 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 7:24 and the last race at 7:54.

Probably the top challenger to Wine Princess is a similarly named 3-year-old filly, Kitty Wine, already second on two occasions at this level, both for trainer Eddie Kenneally. Kitty Wine is by the noted grass sire Lemon Drop Kid, winner of the 1999 Belmont.

At least a few other races on the Friday card should prove of interest, including a maiden dash for 2-year-olds (race 6) that drew a field of eight, including the stable coupling of American Indian and Cowdray Park for owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse.

“I’m only going to run one, but I haven’t decided which,” Casse said Wednesday. “They’re both really pretty talented horses with big pedigrees.”

Speaking of pedigrees, the heavy favorite in the Friday opener figures to be Tapanna, a 4-year-old full brother to champion Hansen. Tappana, a 4-year-old gelding, will drop in for a tag for the first time and be eligible to be claimed from owner-breeder Kendall Hansen for $20,000.

Advance wagering on the Belmont Stakes will be available Friday at Churchill and inter-track wagering outlets throughout Kentucky.