05/30/2012 3:22PM

Churchill Downs: Phillippe coming off tough outing


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A colt named Phillippe was quite productive at 3, finishing second in three stakes while earning more than $90,000 for his owner-breeder, Don Adam of the Courtlandt Farms. But the proverbial sledding has been tougher at 4, as he has yet to finish better than fifth in three races this year.

“You’d have thought he’d already won a ‘two other than,’ but he was so competitive in those stakes last year that I hardly gave him a chance,” said trainer Jimmy Baker. “This year, running against older horses, it’s been a different ballgame.”

Off the worst race of his 15-race career – a last-place finish in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland – Phillippe will return to action Friday evening in the 10th-race feature at Churchill Downs, a $62,500, second-level allowance at seven furlongs. Manny Cruz will have the mount on Phillippe, who was assigned post 5 in a field of nine 3-year-olds and upward.

“He got bumped pretty hard turning for home in the Commonwealth,” said Baker. “He kind of lost his action, and by then he had lost so much ground that Julien [Leparoux] didn’t punish him. It’s the kind of race I’m willing to put a line through.”

Given a return to form, Phillippe, by Mineshaft, looks as good as any in the lone allowance of an 11-race card. Besides finishing second last year in the Hansel, Bachelor, and Kentucky Cup Sprint, he also ran a close second to Litigation Risk in a second-level allowance at Saratoga in August.

Other contenders in the Friday feature include Shrill, second for this same condition in the May 5 race that immediately followed the Kentucky Derby; Closerwalk, one of three 3-year-olds in the field and the winner of the first race of the meet on April 28; Unbridled Venture, going for a third straight victory after ending his Oaklawn Park meet with back-to-back wins for Allen Milligan; and Andersonstate, an interesting turn-back candidate being ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.

First post for the twilight Friday card is 2:45 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 7:24 and the last race at 7:54. Churchill’s party theme shifts from Fridays to Saturdays for the last month of the spring meet, with no more post-race paddock concerts following Friday programs but “Downs After Dark” cards on tap for three Saturdays (June 2, 16, 30).