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Churchill Downs notes: Al Stall Jr. outbreaks the field in trainers race
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Al Stall Jr. would give somebody else a chance, but that would be against the spirit of competition – not to mention the rules of racing. Not only has Stall won with 7 of his first 11 starters to grab an early lead in the fall-meet trainer standings at Churchill, but he also won with 3 of his last 4 starters at the Keeneland meet. That’s a remarkable 10 for his last 15 in Kentucky.
“It’s one of those things where you’re just plugging along and then, boom, everything falls into place,” said Stall, whose biggest win came at Churchill a little more than two years ago with Blame in the BC Classic. “That’s the way the game is. The horses had been training great and obviously we caught the right kind of spots.”
From Friday through Sunday, Stall had just one horse in the entries. He fully expects someone else to win the training title, such as Dale Romans, Ken McPeek, or Mike Maker.
“We’ve only got 10 or 12 more starts in us, and that’s assuming our races go,” said Stall. “I imagine those guys will run out another 30 or 40. So that’s how that’ll shake out.”
Bridgmohan sore, but okay
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan escaped serious injury Thursday when he was thrown to the turf from his mount in the ninth race, Jiggy Jo. The accident was a factor in jockeys telling Churchill management that certain parts of the turf course were softer and more slippery than they would like, and after lengthy consultation Friday morning, the decision was made to transfer all three scheduled turf races to the main track.
Track superintendent David Lehr said recent morning frosts and residual moisture where parts of the turf course are shaded were to blame for the inconsistent course condition. However, with weather warming back up Friday, officials were optimistic that turf racing would be held Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, Bridgmohan took off his mount in the last race Thursday because of body soreness but was back riding Friday. The 33-year-old Jamaica native missed seven weeks last fall after being injured in a spill at Kentucky Downs.
Parade of stars
The parading of the five 2012 Breeders’ Cup winners in front of the Sunday crowd is something new here – well, kind of. Churchill has paraded a number of stars in recent years, but not in a group such as will be done before the eighth race Sunday with Wise Dan, Fort Larned, Groupie Doll, Little Mike, and Tapizar.
Over the last 15 years or so, Churchill has paraded such greats as Cigar, Silver Charm, Funny Cide, Curlin, Brass Hat, and Mine That Bird. All of them went solo, of course.
Borel nearing win No. 5,000
Three-time Kentucky-winning Derby jockey Calvin Borel is closing in on another notable milestone. Into Friday, Borel’s career win total stood at 4,991, and with nine more victories he will become the 26th jockey in North American racing history to hit the 5,000-win milestone.
Borel swept the early double Wednesday on his 46th birthday.
◗ After the races Sunday, race-caller Mark Johnson will leave out of Louisville International Airport for his home in England to attend a memorial service for his father, who died in late October.
With Johnson unable to return until Thursday, former longtime Churchill announcer Mike Battaglia will call the races Wednesday. It will mark the first time since 1996 that Battaglia will call here.
- 1.Posted 12/05/2013 01:44PM
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