11/19/2009 12:00AM

Churchill Downs roundup



In the middle of last week, I was in the paddock talking with valet Shane Borel, who is Calvin Borel's nephew and his uncle's biggest fan. I needled him a little, asking him why Calvin was not flying up the fence on closers as he is known to do. I even remarked that apprentice Freddie Lenclud seemed to be utilizing Borel's signature move more than Borel.

Then, on Saturday, Borel proceeded to win four races in a row, including some in rail-skimming fashion.

Borel is back. And when he gets hot and starts his fearless fence riding, he can flat-out amaze.

By winning seven races from 27 mounts last week, Borel vaulted to the top of the rider standings and had a 12-11 win margin over Julien Leparoux.

With Leparoux expected to miss a few days of riding before this meet ends in late November, Borel is the favorite to win the riding title. Robby Albarado also has a strong chance.

Leparoux and Bridgmohan won five races apiece last week.

In terms of trainers, Steve Asmussen had the most wins last week, winning four races from 11 starts. Others who won at least two races at Churchill last week included Tom Proctor (3 for 5), Ian Wilkes (2 for 8), Dale Romans (2 for 11), Greg Foley (2 for 7), Ken McPeek (2 for 18), and Wally Dollase (2 for 3).

Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, mired in a slump in Kentucky since the Keeneland meet began, picked up a much-needed victory when Hamazing Destiny won an allowance in fast time last Friday.


Jockey Israel Icampo went 0 for 15 last week, and E. T. Baird went 0 for 16. Other riders with particularly cold weeks included Miguel Mena, who went 1 for 24, and Leandro Goncalves, who was 1 for 33 after a strong opening week.

Mena is 1-8-10 from 56 mounts this meet but has had some tough beats, as evidenced by his high number of seconds and thirds. If some of these second- or third-place-finishing horses return before the meet concludes in late November, he'll pick up steam over the final couple of weeks.

Mike Maker and Buff Bradley - good horsemen and high-percentage trainers - remained cold last week, with Maker going 0 for 7 and Bradley 0 for 9. Maker is 1 for 19 on the meet, and Bradley is 1 for 22.

Of trainers who have started 10 or more horses at Churchill this fall, Mike Lauer, Barbara McBride, and Merrill Scherer are the only ones who remain winless.


Wally Dollase won a pair of races Sunday with comebackers - Sumthingtotalkabout in the second race and Distinctive Dixie in the eighth. Sumthingtotalkabout had not started since February, and Distinctive Dixie had not started since June.

It is safe to say they weren't short, and both returned in top form.

Horseplayers shouldn't overlook any Dollase-trained comebackers that appear over the final couple of weeks of the meet.


As usual, Churchill played fairly last week to all styles. The track was fast throughout a beautiful fall week of weather, and the turf was firm.


There are more reasons to come out to Churchill on Saturday besides a Borel bobblehead giveaway. Also on tap is some good racing, led by the Grade 3 Cardinal Stakes at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares on the grass.

On Tuesday afternoon, Acoma, Leamington, Lemon Chiffon, and Tizfiz were some of the most prominent runners expected to run in the Cardinal.

Acoma, having won two graded stakes over the Churchill Downs turf course, may hold an edge.

The Bet on Sunshine, a six-furlong overnight stakes race, supports the Saturday card.

There are no stakes races Sunday.


Hamazing Destiny, largely a disappointment after being purchased for big bucks by Barry Butzow and Westrock Stables after a big maiden win at Oaklawn over the winter, ran to his potential in winning a first-level allowance Friday. Settled comfortably in a pace-pressing position under Terry Thompson, he kicked home strongly over a dull racetrack to complete six furlongs in a sizzling 1:09.20.

His swift winning time earned him a 107 Beyer Speed Figure, easily the highest speed figure of the fall meet.

Hamazing Destiny, a 3-year-old son of Salt Lake trained by Lukas, appears most effective as a dirt sprinter and has obvious stakes potential.

lucky jocks

Jockeys Chris Emigh and Lenclud both went down in falls when horses they were riding clipped heels in races last week.

Emigh, riding Silent Candy in Wednesday's sixth race, fell hard to the Churchill turf when his mount stumbled. Emigh left the course on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital. He experienced a mild concussion and bruising, and appeared fortunate to avoid further injury.

Lenclud, meanwhile, fell in the fifth race Friday, when Follow the Rules clipped heels when racing in heavy traffic down the backstretch of a six-furlong dirt race. Luckily, there were no horses immediately trailing him, and he quickly bounced back up after the fall.

Lenclud was not injured and rode the next day. Emigh took a few days off and returned to riding Sunday.


Maximus Ruler

Trainer: Clark Hanna

Last race: Nov. 14, 10th (Churchill)

Finish: 3rd by head

Dismissed at 52-1 odds in his debut, this horse could have won with a better trip. He spotted the field two to three lengths early with a slow start, and after advancing on the inside on the turn got shuffled back and steadied. Once swung to the outside, he finished best of all. Expect him to improve upon this effort and graduate from the maiden ranks in his second start.

Candy Cane

Trainer: Mike Maker

Last race: Nov. 12, 9th (Keeneland)

Finish: 2nd by nose

Racing in a stakes-quality five-furlong turf sprint, she gave favored Libor Lady all she wanted, dueling with that one from the start before getting edged by a whisker. She showed the heart, class, and speed that are indicative of a top-level performer. Don't underestimate her next time out despite a modest 83 Beyer Speed Figure.

Up in Lights

Trainer: Anthony Mitchell

Last race: Nov. 15, 4th (Churchill)

Finish: 2nd by 2

This Smart Strike filly continues to improve and ran well to grab second in a turf maiden race Nov. 15. Although she has natural speed, she was restrained early and allowed to fall 14 lengths off the pace and made up 12 lengths on the leaders. She also managed this despite having to rally wide on the second turn. She handles turf or Polytrack and should win her maiden next time out if on either of those surfaces.