09/27/2013 12:58PM

Churchill Downs notes: Catalano riding hot streak into Keeneland meet

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Barbara D. Livingston
Wayne Catalano, whose horses won 10 of 15 starts at the recent Kentucky Downs meet, figures to be among the leading trainers at the upcoming 17-day Keeneland meet.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wayne Catalano said a friend was curious about what he was doing in recent weeks when his horses went on an incredible 10-for-15 tear at Kentucky Downs.

“I told him, ‘I’m house hunting down there!’ ” joked Catalano. “I mean, I don’t know. We were just fortunate to have a meet like that. You don’t see something like that very often.”

No, you don’t, and not even from a trainer who perennially dominates his home Chicago circuit and generally wins his share wherever he travels, including Kentucky in the spring and fall and Florida in the winter.

Ten wins is easily a record for a Kentucky Downs meet and was made all the more impressive by the depth of competition that came flocking to the south central Kentucky track this month because of the huge purses being offered there. More than $4.1 million was paid out to horsemen during a five-day meet that ended Wednesday.

“Things just came together at the right time for us,” said Catalano, who was on his way Friday to Chicago, where on Sunday he will be acknowledged in a winner’s circle ceremony at Arlington Park for his feats there this summer as leading trainer. “We’re just lucky to have clients who’ll let us run when the horses are ready, not when [the clients] want them.”

Catalano said most of his better horses based at Arlington this summer were shipping this weekend to Keeneland, where he figures to rank among the leading trainers at a 17-meet day meet that starts Friday. Some of the others will be campaigned at Hawthorne.

“I’m not going to make any predictions about how we’ll do at Keeneland because the last time I did that, it didn’t work out very well,” Catalano said. “We do have quite a few horses to run, and hopefully, we’ll keep getting the results we’ve been having all across the country.”

Catalano, 57, rode for nearly 10 years before he turned to training in 1983. With stable earnings of nearly $4.8 million so far in 2013, he already is having the best year of his career. His nearly $4.3 million in earnings last year had been his best yet.

Flores making impact

David Flores has been making his presence felt since arriving in Kentucky early this month from his longtime Southern California base. Flores rode four winners at Kentucky Downs, third-most among all jockeys, and had a 3-for-9 record through nine of 12 days at the Churchill meet that ends Sunday.

Flores, 45, will continue to ride at the Keeneland and Churchill fall meets, with Jay Fedor as his agent.

New chief steward

Barbara Borden officially became chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Sept. 1, although there was no official announcement from the state that removed “acting” from her title.

Borden had been acting chief steward since April 1, 2012, when she was named to fill the position after John Veitch was fired following the Churchill fall meet in November 2011.

Upcoming poker tournament

A Texas Hold ’em poker tournament that will be attended by a number of big-name jockeys will be held next Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Castle Post following the racing program at Keeneland. The buy-in is $250, with seats limited to 200. First prize is $10,000, with proceeds going to the Simunye Project. For more information, call (859) 873-4394.