11/09/2012 1:47PM

Churchill Downs: Calhoun is back, with two contenders


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 30 days served recently and reluctantly by trainer Bret Calhoun came with certain ironies. The first is that he went on an island vacation that he never would have otherwise taken. The second is that the horse whose medication violation led to the penalty is among the first he will run since the suspension elapsed earlier this week.

Make a Fortune, whose positive test for the prohibited anti-hypertension medication guanabenz from a May 26 race at Churchill Downs led to Calhoun being suspended, is among the main contenders in one of two allowances on a 10-race Sunday card at Churchill. Calhoun also has a runner in the other allowance in Chance Encounter.

“I guess the only silver lining in the whole thing was I went to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean for a week,” said Calhoun, who did not exhaust all legal avenues in fighting the suspension because of the time, expense, and other factors involved. “With Make a Fortune, who was a really bad bleeder, the medication we used ultimately helped him be a competitive racehorse, although obviously we thought we were staying within the parameters for treatment in regard to the race in question.”

In Calhoun’s absence, his Oklahoma-based assistant, Jay Severs, went 9 for 59 (through Thursday) with the stable. Calhoun said he is hopeful Make a Fortune, a maiden winner at Keeneland in his last start, is primed for another big effort when taking a step up in class as part of an oversubscribed field in the ninth race Sunday, a first-level turf sprint worth $52,000.

“We think his problems are smoothed out and hopefully he can win right back,” he said. Make a Fortune has been pegged as a lukewarm 3-1 morning-line choice.

Chance Encounter goes in the fourth race, a $54,000, second-level, main-track route that drew a well-matched field of eight fillies.

Sunday is Veteran’s Day, and Churchill will have a number of tributes in honor of the occasion, including free admission for all U.S. military personnel, including retirees.

First post Sunday is 12:40 p.m. Eastern. Five winners at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup will be paraded before the grandstand and in the paddock following the seventh race (3:32) and before the eighth (4:09). Those horses are Wise Dan, Fort Larned, Groupie Doll, Little Mike, and Tapizar.