05/23/2012 12:31PM

Churchill Downs: Distance a question for Royal Start in Friday allowance

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Chilled (right) tries to bite Zimmer in the stretch run of an allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 18.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One week after the disqualification of Chilled for biting, or at least attempting to bite Zimmer, the wound still runs deep – not for Zimmer, but rather in a metaphoric sense for trainer Paul McGee and his owners, Deerfield Farm Racing and Carl Pascarella.

The stewards disqualified Chilled and placed him second for the incident, a decision McGee called the “wrong call,” pointing to Zimmer seemingly initiating the incident by coming into the path of his horse. Instead of taking the first prize of $34,800, Chilled earned a third of that, $11,600, for second.

That race in the past, McGee will aim for a little better fortune this Friday when he starts Royal Start in a $55,300 first-level allowance going seven furlongs as the 10th and featured race on an 11-race card at Churchill Downs.

Royal Start comes off a competitive performance against similar Derby week, finishing third May 1, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, when racing six furlongs.

“I’m a little concerned about the seven-eighths because she seems to be more of a sprinter-type, but that said, she has been a lot more relaxed than she was earlier in her career,” McGee said. “So maybe seven-eighths will be okay.”

For McGee and those analyzing the race, determining her effectiveness at the distance requires guesswork. Her only win came at 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds this winter, and though she has run well as far as six furlongs, she tired badly the one time she raced beyond that distance, finishing a distant eighth in a mile race here last fall.

Brian Hernandez rides Royal Start, a 4-year-old Jump Start filly owned by Wind and Fire Stables.

Expected to vie for favoritism is Refugio, who finished in front of Royal Start when second May 1, and second-out maiden winners Jamaican Smoke and Totally Tucker, who both earned Beyer Speed Figures in the low 80s in recent victories.

The latter, in particular, could prove a popular choice – closing powerfully to take a maiden race going six furlongs by 4 3/4 lengths for trainer Larry Jones in the race immediately after the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, a race Jones won with Believe You Can.

Calvin Borel picks up the mount on Totally Tucker, with her regular rider, Rosie Napravnik, now riding in New York.