05/02/2013 3:09PM

Churchill Downs: Icon Ike looking strong for Twin Spires Turf Sprint


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Icon Ike has won a total of seven races over four different turf courses, so trainer Larry Jones was very encouraged by what jockey Rosie Napravnik told him after she breezed the 4-year-old colt over the Churchill grass Tuesday morning.

"Rosie said he seemed to like it as much as anyplace else, if not more," said Jones.

That may be bad news for the seven other older horses facing the hard-charging Icon Ike in the Grade 3, $125,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, the first of six straight stakes on the Kentucky Derby program at Churchill Downs on Saturday. With his penchant for winning in this niche, and with Napravnik likely to try to maneuver a stalk-and-see trip from the outside post, Icon Ike looks like the horse to beat in the five-furlong race.

Other considerations include Havelock (post 2, Garrett Gomez), winner in a wild finish last month in the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland; Regally Ready (post 3, Corey Nakatani), winner of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint over this course; Ghost Is Clear (post 4, Joel Rosario), owned and trained by the red-hot Mike Maker; and Chamberlain Bridge (post 6, Miguel Mena), a $1.9-million earner who won the 2010 BC Turf Sprint here.

The balance of the field consists of Southern Dude (post 1, Julien Leparoux), Cactus Son (post 5, Robby Albarado), and Berlino Di Tiger (post 7, Leandro Goncalves).

The Twin Spires goes as the sixth of 13 Saturday races, with post time set for 1:19 p.m. Eastern. It leads off the $2 pick six.

This will be the 19th running of the Twin Spires, which previously was known under two other names since its 1995 inception. Great Attack won last year with Rosario aboard for Wesley Ward.