05/01/2012 11:33AM

Churchill Downs: Outside post a plus for Good Lord in Thursday optional claimer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For a few years there, the Thursday crowd of Kentucky Derby week was treated to a stakes race, sometimes even two. At one time or another, races such as the La Troienne, the Mamzelle, the Kentucky Breeders’ Cup, and even a steeplechase event were part of what is known as “Derby Eve eve,” when 20,000 or more fans would turn out to get a head start on their weekend.

But with the shifting philosophies that Churchill Downs Inc. and many other racetrack companies have undertaken in molding big days into mega-days – there will be six stakes races run both Friday and Saturday at Churchill – not to mention the troubling economic swirl that Kentucky racing as a whole happens to find itself in these days, the best that Churchill will offer on an 11-race Derby Thursday is a $60,600, third-level allowance with an $80,000 claiming option.

Forrest Kaelin has seen all the peaks and valleys that racing at Churchill has traveled through the years, having been stabled here annually since 1962, longer than anyone still alive. Kaelin, a 77-year-old ex-jockey, no longer wins the big races he once did when horses such as Vodika, List, Vodika Collins, and Da Devil walked his shed row, but he still comes up with the occasional useful runner, such as Good Lord, an earner of nearly $200,000.

Good Lord, with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride, was assigned the outside post in a field of eight older runners in Thursday’s featured 10th race, which goes at six furlongs with Riley Tucker and Safe Trip as likely favorites.

Good Lord “really does like this track here at Churchill, and he’s doing good right now,” Kaelin said. “I didn’t want to run him for allowances down there in Tampa, but he picked up checks in those little stakes. I really like that he drew the outside. He loves it out there. I don’t like the rail for him; there are so many ways to getting beat down there, kind of like in the Derby. He ought to run really big Thursday, I think.”

From 10 starts over the Churchill main track, Good Lord has 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds, with his most recent victory coming in a second-level allowance on Derby Day last year.

Surely the horse to beat is Riley Tucker (post 5, Corey Nakatani), a multiple stakes winner of more than $660,000. His trainer, Steve Asmussen, seems to be taking an edge by entering the 7-year-old horse for the $80,000 claiming option. Asmussen also will run Galientos (post 2, Corey Lanerie), uncoupled for wagering purposes.

Safe Trip (post 7, Miguel Mena) also rates high consideration, given his propensity for high Beyer Speed Figures and the likelihood he needed his last start at Fair Grounds.

Rounding out the field are Unsaddled Glory, Our Edge, Isthmus, and Crystal Moment.

One other allowance (race 9) is on tap for Thursday, when first post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern. Post time both Oaks and Derby Day is 10:30 a.m.