09/18/2013 2:41PM

Churchill Downs: Fusaichiswonderful makes first start going from Pletcher to McCauley in Dogwood

Tom Keyser
Fusaichiswonderful is likely to make her first start since coming to Tevis McCauley's barn in the Grade 3 Dogwood on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tevis McCauley has racked up 104 wins and $2.2 million in stable earnings since taking out a trainer’s license in August 2009. That means he is only about 3,250 wins and $250 million shy of what Todd Pletcher has amassed in his 17 years of training.

The comparison arises because McCauley will be running a filly named Fusaichiswonderful – formerly trained by Pletcher – for the first time Saturday at Churchill Downs after Unlimited Equine LLC bought her for $130,000 at Fasig-Tipton in July. Fusaichiswonderful is one of nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the Grade 3, $100,000 Dogwood Stakes, the highlight of the three-day weekend at Churchill.

“Whewww, I don’t know about that,” McCauley said with a big laugh when asked how he intended to improve on Pletcher’s work. “That guy there – I’ve got a lot to learn.”

McCauley, 29, has gradually upgraded his stable while still maintaining the private business he owns in Nicholasville, Ky., a hunting resort that caters to upscale travelers. Outgoing and self-deprecating, the Keeneland-based McCauley is earnest in his efforts to make a name for himself in the racing business. Fusaichiswonderful is among the first horses he has trained for Unlimited Equine, a partnership founded last year by owners from western Kentucky and Tennessee that already has made a splash with such high-dollar purchases as Brushed by a Star and Holiday Soiree.

Fusaichiswonderful, a Kentucky-bred by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, was a 2-year-old sensation in Puerto Rico, where she easily won all five starts. Over the winter, she was sent to Pletcher, who raced her four times, exclusively in stakes, with all of her efforts solid, if not spectacular.

“She ran big there at Churchill on Derby Day and didn’t have the best of trips,” said McCauley, alluding to a runner-up finish behind So Many Ways in the Grade 3 Eight Belles on May 4. “She looks and acts like an awfully nice filly.”

Fusaichiswonderful is cross-entered in a much richer race Saturday, the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks in West Virginia, although McCauley said he most likely will keep her home to run in the seven-furlong Dogwood. So Many Ways and Guadalupe High also are cross-entered in both races.

Fusaichiswonderful won’t be the only Dogwood filly making her first start for new connections. Sky Girl, another top contender, is now trained by Bill Mott after being sold privately to the Alpha Delta Stables by the Jay Em Ess Stable of Samantha Siegel.

The Dogwood, a longtime spring fixture, was last run in 2011 as a one-turn mile. The race was revived when Churchill racing officials put together an eight-race stakes schedule for the new 12-day September meet.

Catalano winning on multiple fronts

Wayne Catalano probably is best known as the perennial leading trainer on the Chicago circuit, but the New Orleans native continues to make his presence felt in a big way in Kentucky, too.

Catalano won with all four of his starters on the 10-race Kentucky Downs Million program last Saturday, including the Juvenile Fillies with Lien On Kitten and the Franklin-Simpson Mile with Coalport. The same afternoon at Arlington Park, Catalano won two races, including the Grade 3 Pucker Up with I’m Already Sexy, while also setting the track mark for earnings (more than $2 million) by a trainers at one meet.

Catalano then won another race Sunday at Churchill, where he has two horses entered (School Spirit in race 9 and Heroic Act in race 10) on the Friday card.

“We’ll have a full barn here for the fall meet again,” Catalano said recently at Keeneland while attending the yearling sales.

Catalano has threatened for a training title before at a Keeneland fall meet, most notably in 2010 when missing by one win. The 17-day meet starts Oct. 4.

Golden Ticket targets Homecoming

Trainer Ken McPeek has confirmed Golden Ticket as a starter for the new $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill next Saturday night, Sept. 28. Golden Ticket, a dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers, figures as second choice to heavily favored Fort Larned.

Golden Ticket most recently won the July 27 Prairie Meadows Handicap by eight lengths as a 1-10 favorite. Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Homecoming will be drawn Sunday.

Neck ’n Neck returns in Indiana

Neck ’n Neck, winner of three graded stakes last year, is preparing to return in the $100,000 Michael Schaefer Memorial Mile Stakes on the Oct. 5 Indiana Derby program at Indiana Downs, trainer Ian Wilkes said.

Neck ’n Neck sustained a fractured sesamoid in a front ankle last fall and has fully recuperated from the surgery that was necessitated as evidenced by six workouts at Churchill since mid-August, the latest coming last weekend. Bred and owned by A. Stevens Miles Jr., the 4-year-old Neck ’n Neck accounted last year for the Matt Winn and Ack Ack at Churchill, as well as the last Indiana Derby held at Hoosier Park, now a Standardbred-only facility.

Bourbon Courage resumes training

Another standout 4-year-old is on the comeback trail at Churchill, although not as far along. Bourbon Courage, an earner of $832,444 from 11 starts, had his first workout since being laid up following a fourth-place finish in the May 3 Alysheba Stakes when he breezed an easy half-mile Saturday in 51.20 seconds.

Trainer Kellyn Gorder said he is pointing Bourbon Courage to the Nov. 27 Clark Handicap at Churchill and would prefer to get a race into the colt before then.

◗ The world premiere of “Penny & Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner,” is set for Friday at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Lexington. The 60-minute documentary will be preceded by a VIP reception and serves as the kickoff to the sixth annual Bourbon County Secretariat Festival in nearby Paris, Ky.