05/31/2012 12:59PM

Churchill Downs: Noble's Promise seeks to repeat in Aristides

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Photos By Z/Keeneland
Noble's Promise always runs well at Churchill Downs, where he has won two stakes, including the 2011 Aristides.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It has been nearly 10 years since Ken McPeek pulled off a Triple Crown shocker by sending out a 70-1 shot named Sarava to win the Belmont Stakes. McPeek was booked on a Friday night flight from Kentucky for New York, where he will prepare what he called “a couple of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost horses” in Atigun and Unstoppable U in their bids to thwart I’ll Have Another from becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner.

“You never know, I might have another Sarava,” said McPeek.

His odds seem far more favorable with Noble’s Promise in the $100,000 Aristides Stakes, one of three Grade 3 races set for Saturday night at Churchill Downs. Noble’s Promise is the defending champion in the six-furlong Aristides and has earned nearly $1.1 million for the JCM Racing partnership.

“He likes Churchill a lot,” said McPeek, noting that Noble’s Promise had the lead turning for home in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and also won a tough overnight stakes here on one of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup undercards. “I really liked his last work,” a half-mile breeze on Monday, “and I thought we’d give him a shot to win the Aristides again.”

Noble’s Promise, with Corey Lanerie to ride, will start from post 4 as one of eight 3-year-olds and upward in the Aristides. His chief opposition appears to be the uncoupled Steve Asmussen duo of Rothko and Riley Tucker, along with Will’s Wildcat and Cash Refund.

Rothko was terrific in going through his first three conditions last year at 3 and was good enough to run second in the Grade 1 Malibu in late December. He has raced just once in the interim and has had seven local works in preparation for this.

Riley Tucker has earned $667,116 and has run some huge races here, most notably a victory in the 2010 Aristides in which he recorded a 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

Will’s Wildcat is 3 for 5 over the local surface and also is capable of a triple-digit Beyer, having posted a 105 in a three-back allowance triumph at Gulfstream Park.

Cash Refund engaged in several fierce battles with Gantry this winter at Fair Grounds and will make his first start since April 1.

“The two-month layoff wasn’t by design,” said trainer Steve Margolis. “We tried to run him about a month ago but the race didn’t fill. He’s got the outside post, which I really like.”

Rounding out the Aristides cast are Global Power, Good Lord, and Whiskey Rebellion.

This is the 24th running of the Aristides, named for the winner of the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. It goes as the seventh of 11 Saturday night races, with post time set for 9:05 p.m. Eastern.