06/21/2011 2:26PM

Churchill Downs: McPeek will take his stakes performers on the road

Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Noble’s Promise, winning the Aristides, will be pointed to the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Calder.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There will be no extending of trainer Ken McPeek’s streak of five consecutive graded stakes victories at the current Churchill Downs meet, which concludes July 4.

He doesn’t have a single horse nominated to the final three graded stakes races of the meet: Saturday’s Grade 3 Debutante for 2-year-old fillies, the Grade 3 Bashford Manor on July 2, and the closing-day, Grade 2 Firecracker on July 4.

So McPeek will instead try to keep his momentum going out of town this summer.

Besides Scotus and Bizzy Caroline, the respective winners of last weekend’s Matt Winn and Regret who are being targeted for major summer tests, McPeek has at least several others likely to step into major out-of-town graded stakes.

Aristides winner Noble’s Promise, who worked a half-mile at Churchill in 48.20 seconds Monday, is headed to Calder for the Grade 2, $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, McPeek said.

The race is part of Calder’s Summit of Speed card that also includes the Grade 2 Princess Rooney, the Grade 2 Carry Back, and the Grade 3 Azalea.

Mint Julep winner My Baby Baby, in the best form of her career at age 6 and in foal to Curlin, might make one more start before being retired, with McPeek mentioning the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga on July 30 a potential spot.

Dark Cove, third in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup behind Rahystrada last Saturday, could be headed to the West Coast. A versatile performer who handles synthetic tracks as well as he does turf, Dark Cove is under consideration for the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 or Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 28.

A 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt, Dark Cove was claimed for $16,000 by McPeek last summer at Saratoga and has since made more than $180,000 for his current connections of Joseph Englehart and McPeek’s Magdalena Racing.

One horse not expected in action soon is Golden Rod winner Kathmanblu. After a distant sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, she returned with another substandard performance in finishing fourth in last Saturday’s Grade 3 Regret last Saturday.

“We’re going to give her some R & R,” McPeek said.

While Kathmanblu gets a break, Rogue Romance will get back to serious training this summer, McPeek said, likely at the end of July. A one-time Kentucky Derby prospect, he was knocked off the Derby trail with a foot injury.

“We’ve been giving him plenty of time to heal,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll come back as a nice older horse.”

A son of Smarty Jones, Rogue Romance won the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes on turf at Keeneland last year as a 2-year-old before running third behind Uncle Mo and Boys At Tosconova in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He ran third behind Mucho Macho Man and Santiva in the Grade 2 Risen Star in his only start of 2011.

Delightful headed to Saratoga’s Test

Other notable horses being pointed to graded stakes, their trainers said, include Delightful to the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga on Aug. 8, and Lil Bit O’ Fun to the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington on July 9.

Mark Casse trains Delightful Mary, and Tom Proctor is the trainer of Lil Bit O’Fun.

Delightful, unraced since finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Ashland on April 9, has recorded two works at Woodbine this month. She ran third behind Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her only dirt start last fall.

Lil Bit O’Fun, meanwhile, comes off a recent victory in the $214,000 Oliver Stakes on June 15 at Indiana Downs.

Dublin ends long layoff in Kelly’s Landing

Dublin, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful in 2009 but unraced since a fifth-place finish in last year’s Preakness, is set to make a long-awaited return to racing in Friday evening’s $76,600 Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes.

Sidelined last year due to bone chip in an ankle, Dublin resumed breezing at Oaklawn early this year, but after missing training in the early spring, trainer D. Wayne Lukas had to further delay the colt’s return.

He has trained swiftly at Churchill since mid-May, capped by a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 this past Sunday.

His principal opponents in the seven-furlong Kelly’s Landing include Captain Cherokee and Here Comes Ben.

First post for Friday’s next-to-last nighttime racing card of the spring meet is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Kelly’s Landing contested under the lights at 10:42. The final race, the 11th, goes at 11:10.

Also returning to action Friday after an extended layoff is last year’s Grade 3 Eight Belles winner, Buckleupbuttercup, who goes in the third race, a second-level allowance. She is unstarted since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Test last August.