06/29/2011 4:32PM

Churchill Downs: Bashford Manor could be big day for partnership


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Billy Denzik paid a mere $6,000 for a yearling colt at auction last fall before asking his friend from high school, Brook Smith, if he wanted to partner up. Smith said yes, and now the two are hoping to realize one of their best days in racing when the colt named Green Mouse runs Saturday at Churchill Downs in the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes.

Denzik said he is looking for further improvement from Green Mouse in the six-furlong Bashford Manor, which drew a field of 11 2-year-olds when entries were drawn Wednesday. Green Mouse, named for a long-defunct Louisville hangout, rebounded from a sixth-place finish in his April debut at Keeneland to easily win a maiden race at Churchill on May 26.

“In his first race, he broke a step slow and then got totally annihilated,” said Denzik, a former golf standout at the University of Louisville. “He really did make a heck of a move just to get into contention.”

Smith, a Louisville businessman, said he is thrilled to have a horse worthy of a race such as the Bashford Manor, the first stakes of the year in Kentucky for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Smith formerly had his horses trained by his close friend, Danny Hutt, before Hutt died unexpectedly in May 2004.

“Since Danny died, I’ve used his former assistant, Bobby Radcliffe, and also Billy, who I played golf with in high school,” said Smith. “They’re both great guys and outstanding horsemen. I love being involved in racing, because even though there’s risk involved, there’s also a lot of fun to be had. Being in this position with Green Mouse is fun. He tries his guts out and has some speed. Will he be competitive in there? All I know is he’s going to keep improving. Let’s just say I don’t think we’re doing something stupid by running him Saturday.”

Manny Cruz will be aboard Green Mouse when breaking from post 10.

The likely favorite for the Bashford Manor is Sum of the Parts, a flashy winner of his lone start May 14 for trainer Tom Amoss. Other top contenders include Lil Cherokee, Exfactor, Bonaparte, Tarpy’s Goal, and Friscan.

This will be the 110th running of the Bashford Manor. The filly counterpart, the Debutante, was won last weekend by Flashy Lassie, a 17-1 shot.

Name brings back a Derby from the past

Longtime Kentucky Derby fans may remember a horse named Kingpost, who in 1988 won the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park before finishing 14th in the Derby. Kingpost was trained by Dianne Carpenter, a former Churchill regular who died of cancer May 4 at age 68 and remains the only woman to have saddled as many as two Derby starters, the other being Biloxi Indian (12th in 1984).

The subject arises because a 3-year-old colt named Kingpost will put his unbeaten record on the line Friday evening when part of a rugged field of eight in the fifth race, a $65,200, second-level allowance at five furlongs on the turf. Kingpost has started and won twice, with both races coming over Polytrack.

Bonnie Hamilton, who owns Kingpost with her husband, Tommy, under the stable name of Silverton Hill Farms, said she gave the colt his name because of her interest in architecture. A kingpost is a means of support for a large structure, “and this is a large horse,” she said.

◗ Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., will open its 2011 meet by overlapping with Churchill for its first three programs on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The meet then will operate on a three-day-a-week schedule through Labor Day, Sept. 5.

Through the years, and with permission from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Ellis has occasionally gone head-on with Churchill because neither track wants to give up the Fourth of July weekend. Entries for the Saturday opener at Ellis were to be drawn Thursday.