09/13/2013 2:01PM

Churchill Downs: Gold Element finally finds the right spot

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Gold Element is no morning glory. To the contrary, the Texas-bred 6-year-old gelding was so unimpressive in his morning works that he began his career in a $15,000 maiden-claiming race at Sam Houston in December 2009.

“He’s one of those horses that’s a lot better in the afternoon than the morning,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “This horse has a lot of heart. You’ll take that every time.”

With numerous layoff lines dotting his past performances, Gold Element has had just 14 starts in a career spanning more than 3 1/2 years. He has won eight of those while consistently earning Beyer Speed Figures in the mid- to high-90s in his more recent outings. His next race is scheduled for Sunday at Churchill Downs, where he is entered for a $62,500 claiming option as the 8-5 morning-line favorite against eight other 3-year-olds and up.

Gold Element, owned by the Wimp Free Racing Stable, has had just one race since mid-January, but Calhoun said that is more due to the dearth of available high-end claiming races than anything else.

“We had him at Remington the last month or so with the intention of running him there, but they just couldn’t get a race to go,” he said. “We also had him entered for $50,000 at Churchill, and that didn’t go. The nature of what the claiming game is now, we’re just thankful to get him in a race like this.”

Only one of his Sunday opponents, Bold Choice, also is entered for the $62,500 tag, while the seven others all are eligible for the second-level allowance condition that also governs the $50,000, seven-furlong race. It’s the ninth of 10 races and the only allowance on a program offering five maiden events.

Among the chief threats to Gold Element is Cozzetti, a gray 4-year-old who has had four starts, all defeats in optional claiming company, since he returned this spring from a layoff. Cozzetti won the Grade 3 American Derby last summer on turf at Arlington Park.

“We’d love to get him through this condition sooner than later,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s got the ability, we know that.”

First post Sunday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 4:59 and the last race at 5:29.

After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for four days before the third three-day weekend of the new September meet commences Friday.