05/13/2011 11:32AM

Churchill Downs: Cash Refund tops talent-laden sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cash Refund is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a six-furlong allowance race Sunday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four of the five older sprinters in the Sunday feature at Churchill Downs show triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on their past performances. So what’s the name of this stakes race that attracted such a wealth of equine talent?

Actually, it’s a six-furlong allowance race with a $59,800 purse.

“For the money, it sure came up a tough one,” said trainer Steve Margolis, who will send out Cash Refund, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, in the third of 10 Sunday races.

Cash Refund, bred and owned by the Klein family of Louisville, has competed against some of the best sprinters in North America over the last year or so, but that doesn’t necessarily set him apart from the rest. Riley Tucker, like Cash Refund, also ran in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint here last fall, while two of the other starters, Chief of Affairs and Backtalk, have made a consistent habit of competing in stakes. The outsider in the group is River Bear, an earner of more than $500,000 while mostly staying within the Illinois-bred ranks.

Cash Refund has won half of his 12 starts, and Margolis is hoping the 5-year-old gelding can push past the .500-mark by getting a well-judged ride Sunday after breaking from post 3 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

“Shaun’s a good judge of pace,” Margolis said. “I’m sure they’re going to go fast. I like that we got the 3-hole, because maybe we can sit the trip, although this horse does like to be out there on the engine. It’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds.”

If Cash Refund gets into a protracted duel with Chief of Affairs, then Backtalk might be able to more easily pounce – or things might even set up for Riley Tucker, whose all-time best effort from 31 career starts came here last spring when he posted a whopping 110 Beyer in winning the Grade 3 Aristides for trainer Steve Asmussen.

The Sunday feature comes as early as it does because of field size; most tracks, including Churchill, tend to be reluctant to card shorter fields later in the day.

One allowance (race 9) with a much larger field anchors the latter half of the card. It’s a $51,000, first-level allowance route in which Margolis and Asmussen both have contenders in Red Ace and Wilburn, respectively, and it’s arguably the best betting race of the day.

First post for the first Sunday card of the meet is 12:45 p.m. Eastern. After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for three days before another four-day week resumes Thursday.