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Updated on 06/29/2013 7:58AM
Churchill Downs: Maker and Asmussen battle for title
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – While Ken Ramsey savors his latest record-breaking feat as the dominant horse owner in Kentucky, his principal trainer, Mike Maker was involved in a battle for leading trainer honors as the Churchill Downs spring meet wound to a close.
Into the final three days of the meet, Maker held a tenuous 33-32 lead over Steve Asmussen. Both trainers were scheduled to be extremely active during the last two programs: Maker has entries in two races Saturday night and five on Sunday, while Asmussen is represented in sseven races Saturday night and three on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ramsey was in all his glory Thursday at Churchill after breaking the record for most wins by an owner at a single meet at the historic oval. A 3-year-old named The Sixties gave him and his wife, Sarah, their 28th win of the 38-day meet, breaking the former mark of 27 set at a 93-day meet in 1984 by A.J. Foyt Jr.
Accompanied by other family members, Ramsey called the feat “a real honor” and said he intended to put the record “out of reach” by running a slew of horses here on closing weekend. Indeed, he has seven entries on the 10-race closing-day card Sunday.
This will be a record 19th time the Ramseys have won or tied for leading owner at a Churchill meet.
In the jockeys’ race, Shaun Bridgmohan seemed to have things well under control heading into the final three days. Not only did he lead runner-up Rosie Napravnik by a 48-41 count, he was named to ride in 10 of 11 races on Friday, while Napravnik and several other Churchill-based jockeys were in Iowa to ride at Prairie Meadows that night. This will be the second Churchill riding crown for Bridgmohan, whose prior title came when he tied Calvin Borel at the 2006 fall meet.
◗ Ellis Park officials say they intend to have their main racing surface in excellent condition for the opening of the summer meet Thursday. The arduous process of removing an excessive number of rocks has continued through this week after it was discovered that new material used to resurface the western Kentucky track had not been properly sifted.
The track recently issued a lengthy release on the subject that said in part: “We pride ourselves on having one of the safest tracks in the state and we want to reassure horsemen and patrons alike that we are working hard to keep it so.”
Entries for the eight-race Thursday opener were to be taken Saturday. The first stakes is Saturday, July 6, with the $50,000 Ellis Park Turf.
For many years, Churchill raced on July 4, sometimes directly conflicting with Ellis, but Churchill officials decided as of last year to end the spring meet before the holiday.
◗ Golden Soul, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, breezed five furlongs on Friday in 59.40 seconds over a fast Churchill track as he continues to train for his turf debut in the Grade 2, $500,000 Virginia Derby, a 1 1/4-mile race on July 13 at Colonial Downs.
It was the second work for Golden Soul since he finished ninth in the June 8 Belmont Stakes. Trainer Dallas Stewart said he is happy with how the colt came out of the Belmont and that he is looking forward to racing him on turf. The colt’s first post-Belmont breeze came on the Churchill turf course on June 20.
Golden Soul, bred and owned by Charles Fipke, is by Perfect Soul, a son of Sadler’s Wells.
“He’s got a nice pedigree for the grass and the distance can’t hurt us,” Stewart said.
◗ More than a dozen Churchill jockeys in their racing silks paid their annual visit Friday morning to the Kosair Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville, where children and their families always look forward to meeting with some of racing’s most recognizable personalities.
Among those joining the jockeys was retired Hall of Famer Pat Day.
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