05/18/2012 1:06PM

Churchill Downs: Prospective gets in a breeze


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A day before some of his fellow Kentucky Derby rivals race in the Preakness Stakes, Prospective got back to business at Churchill Downs Friday, breezing five furlongs in company with stablemate Stealcase in 1:01.20.

Although badly outrun in the Derby, finishing 18th, 34 1/2 lengths behind victorious I’ll Have Another, merely finishing the race is a credit to Prospective and his rider, Luis Contreras, after the horse clipped heels early.

Television footage taken from a blimp shows Prospective stumbling badly after clipping Hansen’s heels 100 yards or so into the race, then recovering, although not before Contreras tumbled forward, briefly hanging onto his mount’s neck before regaining his balance.

Despite the ordeal, Prospective exited the Derby in good condition, minus some cuts on his legs, “all just superficial,” trainer Mark Casse said.

Winner of the Tampa Bay Derby on Mar. 10, he will not race in the Belmont, Casse said. Alternative races are being considered, with Casse mentioning the June 16 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, the June 10 Victoria Park Stakes at Woodbine, and the June 30 Iowa Derby as options.

Stealcase, third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs Apr. 28, is an outside possibility for the Belmont, Casse said. Although less accomplished than Prospective, “I always thought he was our number one,” he said.

As for 2-year-old Floral Sky, who won the first race Thursday at Churchill in her debut, she could reappear the Grade 3 Debutante at Churchill Downs June 23, said Casse.

Bourbon Courage has bullet work

Stealcase wasn’t the only Derby Trial competitor to work Friday at Churchill Downs. So, too, did fourth-place finisher Bourbon Courage, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40, the fasted of 17 works that morning at that distance.

Miguel Mena, who rode him in the Derby Trial – the colt’s first loss in three starts following a pair of sprint victories at Fair Grounds – enthusiastically posted on Twitter that in breezing Bourbon Courage, “he went great and was happier than ever.”

Bridgmohan takes lead

It took until Thursday for a rider to pass jockey Julien Leparoux in the standings, though Leparoux hasn’t ridden here since Kentucky Derby day, after which he shifted his base to Belmont Park.

In winning three races Thursday, Shaun Bridgmohan moved atop the rider standings in what is expected to be a wide-open race for leading rider. His three-win day Thursday gave him 12 victories, one more than Calvin Borel and the absent Leparoux.

Corey Lanerie and Leandro Goncalves are next with nine winners, with Mena right behind with eight.

Bridgmohan said Friday that while pleased to be in the lead, it is “very early” in a meet that goes until July 1. Even with Leparoux gone and Robby Albarado suspended following a domestic violence arrest, “there are a lot of good riders left in the room,” he said.

Trainer standings tight

The trainer standings are as compact as the jockey standings, with Bret Calhoun holding a narrow one-win edge, having gone 6 for 21 at Churchill, a record that includes a win Thursday with Donoharm in the second race.

Dale Romans, Steve Asmussen, and Wayne Catalano are all close behind with five winners apiece, followed by Steve Margolis and Tom Amoss, who have both trained four winners.

This is not the only track where Calhoun is leading trainer. He has a commanding lead in the training standings at Lone Star Park, his hometown track, by a 21-13 margin over Danny Pish.

High five gets upgrade

Sunday’s super high five at Churchill Downs, on the 10th and final race, carries a higher level of quality than usual for a the wager, with the race being an overflow first-level allowance for fillies sprinting five furlongs on turf.

Usually low-end claiming and maiden claiming races are placed as the last race for the super high five in part because such contests typically attract deep fields, creating the potential for carryovers and large payoffs.