05/25/2011 1:40PM

Churchill Downs: Perregaux hopes to stay on turf in return race


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When a 3-year-old colt named Perregaux returns to action Friday evening at Churchill Downs following a layoff of five months, it will be with the good faith of his trainer behind him.

“We stopped on him last fall after we discovered a tiny, tiny chip in an ankle and had it taken out,” explained Neil Howard, who will send out Perregaux in the 10th-race feature on an 11-race twilight program. “We maybe could’ve gone on with him, but he’s too good a horse. In fact, I think he might be one of the nicest grass horses I’ve ever had. He’s a pretty decent colt.”

Perregaux, with Robby Albarado to ride, will break from post 5 in the Friday feature, a $53,500, second-level allowance scheduled for a mile on the turf. Bred and owned by the Courtlandt Farms of Donald Adam, Perregaux won 2 of 5 starts last year at 2 and enters his Friday comeback off a series of six workouts at Churchill.

“We’re ready to get back with him,” Howard said.

While a forecast of rain in the Louisville area opens the possibility that the race may have to be transferred to the main track, Perregaux is one who surely would benefit from it staying on turf. Others in the same proverbial boat include Ronin Dax, a 3-year-old facing his elders again on just six days’ rest, and Tanzana, winner of the Cradle Stakes over the River Downs turf last summer.

Conversely, several opponents figure to move up with a surface switch, including The Program, who turned in a strong effort in his first try following a lengthy layoff on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard; De Price, stretching out for the winning Preakness team of trainer Dale Romans and jockey Jesus Castanon; and Awesome Act, who surely stands to improve over a lackluster return to action last month at Keeneland.

The Friday card is the third of five straight Fridays with a twilight first post of 2:45 p.m. Eastern. The featured 10th is set for 7:24. Night racing, with a first post of 6 p.m., runs the last three Fridays of the meet: June 17, June 24, and July 1.

One other allowance (race 7) is carded for Friday. It’s a $51,000, first-level route for fillies and mares and also is scheduled for the turf.