11/02/2012 4:06PM

Churchill Downs: Major Marvel prepping for Claiming Crown

Coady Photography
A $10,000 claim in April, Major Marvel is the 2-1 favorite in Sunday’s $58,000 Santa Anita feature on the basis of his sharp recent form.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With a purse of $58,000, Sunday’s featured fourth race at Churchill Downs offers plenty of financial incentive for the participants. And though the connections of Major Marvel are in it to win it, they also have hopes for an even bigger prize in a few weeks.

Sunday’s race, a 1 1/16-mile money allowance on the grass, is Major Marvel’s prep for the $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald on opening day at Gulfstream Park Dec. 1.

Although a former claimer – a $10,000 claim in April, no less, – Major Marvel is the 2-1 favorite on the basis of his sharp form for trainer Mike Maker and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. In five starts for them, he has four victories, including a stakes win in the $100,000 West Virginia Speaker’s Cup on the West Virginia Derby card at Mountaineer.

Only a fourth-place finish in his last start, the Sept. 8 Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs, is a recent blemish to his form.

“He ran a real flat race and came out of it a little sick,” Maker said. “Hopefully that was it.”

Unraced for nearly two months, he comes into Sunday’s race off a series of steady works at Maker’s base, Churchill Downs Trackside, breezing weekly since late September.

Leandro Goncalves picks up the mount.

Other contenders include fellow stakes winner Depeche Chat, who won the Franklin Simpson Stakes on yielding ground, and Night Party, who ran third in the Grade 2 Firecracker at Churchill in July before returning from a layoff and finishing 10th in the Grade 3 Phoenix on Keeneland’s Polytrack on Oct. 5.

Among the seven entries, one runner, It Happened Again, was entered strictly to race on the main track. He is also entered in the Mountaineer Mile on Saturday evening.

Sachem Spirit back from layoff

Also on Sunday’s 10-race card is a second-level allowance on turf that goes as race 9, with Arlington Classic runner-up Sachem Spirit the 5-2 morning line favorite.

First or second all four of his starts, he will try to shake off the rust from not having started since losing by two lengths to Silver max in the Arlington Classic on May 26.

Regular rider Corey Lanerie is up for trainer Neil Howard.

The opposition is headed by Temeraine, third in a comparable allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 5, and Positive Side, who is stepped up a notch in class after winning an entry-level allowance in fast time at Keeneland on Oct. 11.

Aikenite retired again

Aikenite, brought out of retirement this fall after missing the stallion season when initially retired in the spring, has seen his second racing campaign end after a single comeback race. Fourth in last month’s Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, he had been pointed for Friday’s Ack Ack at Churchill before a recurring ankle injury sidelined him again.

A 5-year-old son of Yes It’s True owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, he is entered in the November breeding stock sale at Keeneland as a stallion prospect.