06/04/2013 1:26PM

Churchill Downs: Perregaux will be running late in Thursday turf sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Perregaux should get a solid pace to chase in Thursday's turf sprint at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Saving the best for last is a concept rarely employed by racing secretaries, given that the last race of any given program typically is not of very high quality.

But an exception to that rule arises Thursday at Churchill Downs, where the last race happens to be the best one on a nine-race program. It’s a $54,000, second-level turf sprint that drew a terrific field of 10 older horses, most of them with stakes experience.

David Carroll is hoping Perregaux will save his best for last in this particular race, which was so carded as “the best option for the super high five,” according to Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman.

“We think he’s going to do his best as a late-run sprinter,” said Carroll, who trains 5-year-old Perregaux for the Courtlandt Farm of Donald Adam.

Perregaux will have the meet’s leading rider, Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard when breaking from post 3 in the five-furlong feature.

At least theoretically, a surplus of speed in the Thursday finale would seem to set things up for the style that Perregaux has developed in his 14 prior starts. A frantic pace is virtually guaranteed by the presence of Closerwalk (post 5, Norberto Arroyo Jr), returning from a nine-month layoff for Wayne Catalano; Trelawny (post 7, Joe Rocco Jr.), first or second in 18 of 28 career starts; and Homerun Berti (post 10, Corey Lanerie), 2 for 2 over the Churchill turf.

“It’s really a tough race, if you ask me,” Carroll said.

Perregaux has been a source of mild frustration for his trainers, having competed in graded stakes company as a 3-year-old for veteran Neil Howard before coming to Carroll following a lengthy layoff. At one point, Howard described the horse as potentially one of his best grass horses ever.

“He’s a fairly small, stocky horse,” Carroll said. “I went back and watched some of his races earlier in his career, and he’d make a nice run and then just seem to flatten out.

“I’m drawing a line through his last race,” a May 18 race at a mile, he added. “I’m convinced that sprinting on the turf is what he wants to do. Of course, you always need some racing luck in races like this. But I’m very happy with how he’s doing, and we’ll go over there looking to have a little luck.”

First post Thursday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the last race set for 4:59.