09/27/2013 1:23PM

Churchill Downs: Maker optimistic about comeback for King David

Tom Keyser
King David, whose first start after a claim resulted in a Grade 1 victory last year, has been out of action for eight months. He will return in an optional claiming race Sunday at Churchill.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – King David is a real racing rarity as a horse whose first start after a claim resulted in a Grade 1 victory. The colt pulled off that remarkable feat last fall in winning the Jamaica on the Belmont Park turf after being haltered for $35,000 just three weeks earlier.

The postscript wasn’t quite as storybook, however, because King David was forced to the shelf just a few months later with a knee chip. Fast-forward eight months, and the epilogue to his continuing tale begins Sunday on the closing-day program of the 12-day September meet at Churchill Downs.

King David, with Rosie Napravnik to ride, is part of an oversubscribed field in the ninth of 10 Sunday races, a second-level allowance with a $62,500 claiming option. The race carries a $50,000 purse and is scheduled for a mile on the turf, with plenty of also-eligibles on hand in case the rain being predicted for Sunday forces it to the main track.

Mike Maker, who trains 4-year-old King David for the Scarlet Stable of Chris and Rose Barney, said the recuperation period for the colt has gone very smoothly. Starting in late July, King David was sent through nine workouts at Maker’s primary base at the Trackside training center just a few miles from Churchill, with the final prerace prep, a five-furlong breeze in 1:01, being recorded last Sunday.

“I really think he could come back better than ever,” Maker said. “Everything has gone very well since he had the chip taken out. We don’t have anything in particular in mind for him after this race other than just to get him back in the swing of things and go from there.”

Speed aplenty is in evidence in the Sunday feature, given the presence of such swifties as Street Serenade, Fevernthefunkhouse, Channel Marker, and Ray’s Away, the last of whom was expected to scratch from the Jefferson Cup on Saturday night to race instead in this spot. A swift pace could be of considerable assistance to King David, who tends to fare best from off the lead.

One other allowance is on tap Sunday, and it directly precedes the feature as race 8. Maker has a major contender in there, too, with Elusive Act, a 3-year-old filly who stretches out in a $48,000, first-level allownace race at a one-turn mile. In fact, Maker, who is very much in the hunt for the meet training title, has scheduled starters in all but three of the 10 races.

First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern. After Sunday, the Kentucky circuit goes dark for four days before the 17-day fall meet kicks off Friday at Keeneland.