11/18/2011 1:21PM

Churchill: Calhoun likes his chances with Beat the Blues


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Bret Calhoun said he doubted Speedacious could win following a 3 1/2-month layoff when she returned to action Nov. 11 at Churchill Downs in an allowance sprint, a race the trainer hoped would set the filly up perfectly for an expected run on the Dec. 10 Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds.

Calhoun was right. Speedacious got beat a half-length.

“I wasn’t real right,” he laughed.

Now Calhoun is taking a more optimistic bent toward Beat the Blues. Unraced in 10 weeks, the 4-year-old filly will be one of the favorites when she starts in the Sunday feature at Churchill, a $54,000, classified allowance at six furlongs. A field of six fillies and mares is entered in the fourth of 10 races.

Beat the Blues was beaten just a neck when she ran second to the multiple Grade 1 winner Sassy Image in the Grade 3 Winning Colors here in the spring. Although that has been her only race at Churchill, the filly has trained extensively here for Calhoun and assistant Dennis “Peaches” Geier.

“She seems to like the Churchill surface a lot,” said Calhoun.

Beat the Blues raced three times since the Winning Colors, winning the Saylorville at Prairie Meadows, running a distant second to Tar Heel Mom in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga, then imploding with a 10th-place finish in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters on Sept. 10.

“She didn’t like that surface at all,” said Calhoun, referring to the synthetic Tapeta at Presque Isle. “I was actually pretty optimistic going into that one, but she just didn’t handle it. She also might have been a little tired, as much as we’ve shipped her around.

“Now she’s really come back to herself, trained real well,” he added. “There’s a lot of speed in there, and hopefully she can get the right kind of trip right off of them. I’d have to say I think we’ve got a pretty good chance in there.”

Beat the Blues, with Miguel Mena back from Louisiana to ride, will break from post 2. Perhaps the main competition is drawn to her inside in post 1: Starlite Starbrite, with Calvin Borel to ride, last raced in the May 30 Winning Colors, finishing fifth.

From post 3 outward, the rest of the lineup is Little Polka Dot, Fortune Play, Hyperlink, and Hot Hot Mama.

One other allowance (race 9) also is on tap for Sunday, when first post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern. It’s a $48,000, first-level race for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf, with a newcomer named Gypsy likely to draw considerable attention among an oversubscribed field. Graham Motion trains Gypsy for Flaxman Holdings.

After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for two days before the final five-day week commences Wednesday. The Grade 1 Clark Handicap on Friday highlights closing week.