05/02/2011 12:52PM

Churchill Downs: Pupil tries to outdo former master in allowance sprint feature


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – John Good learned at the foot of Bob Baffert, working in various capacities for the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer for seven years. So when Good sent out a colt named China to win an allowance early on the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup undercard at Churchill Downs last fall, defeating the Baffert-trained Solar Rocket in the process, Good was beyond ecstatic.

“I love this little horse,” said Good. “He gave me the rare chance to pull one over on my old boss. Bob did a lot for me, so that was a tremendous thrill.”

A rematch of sorts looms Wednesday at Churchill, where China will make the third start of his form cycle in the ninth-race feature, a third-level optional $80,000 claimer at six furlongs. Baffert will send out the program favorite, Irrefutable, among the field of 11 older horses against his former assistant, but Good believes he comes well armed.

“My horse is definitely right where he needs to be,” said Good. “He’s got the two races behind him, and in his last at Keeneland, I don’t think I had him cranked up all the way. He’s as good now as I had him back in November.”

Good, a 32-year-old native of Ireland, began working for Baffert when he was 19 before going out on his own in 2005. He spent the last few months rebuilding his stable and now has nearly a dozen horses at the nearby Trackside training center.

China, owned by the Black Sheep Racing of Shaun McCarthy of Portland, Maine, will have Robby Albarado aboard when breaking from post 4. Besides the Baffert challenger, the race also includes a number of capable sprinters, including Snapshot, an eye-catching winner in a similar race here last fall for trainer Bill Mott. Snapshot is one of four in this race entered for the $80,000 claiming option.

A first-level, $51,000 turf route for fillies and mares, directly precedes the feature as the only other allowance on the 10-race card. Media Madness, Silk Route, and Ms Silver Oak look like the top threats in a well-matched field.

Unlike in previous years, there will be no stakes races here Thursday, either, with three allowances being the highlights. First post both days is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

Six stakes are on tap both Friday and Saturday. First post both days is 10:30 a.m.