10/27/2011 5:02PM

Churchill Downs: Solid dozen in Pocahontas


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Twelve 2-year-old fillies, including four returning from the Alcibiades Stakes, have been entered at Churchill Downs for the $150,000 Pocahontas Stakes, the richest of the 11 Stars of Tomorrow races that open the 21-day fall meet Sunday.

Heart of Destiny, runner-up in the Oct. 7 Alcibiades at Keeneland, is part of a terrific field in the Grade 2 Pocahontas, which shares the opening-day spotlight with its male counterpart, the Grade 3, $100,000 Iroquois. Both stakes are run at a one-turn mile, with the other nine Sunday races – three allowances and six maiden special-weight events – all being for 2-year-olds.

Heart of Destiny, trained by Jimmy Baker, rallied to the lead at nearly 18-1 in the stretch run of the 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades, only to be caught late by Stephanie’s Kitten. She will have Edgar Prado back aboard when she breaks from post 11 in a speed-laden 43rd running of the Pocahontas (race 10).

The 30th Iroquois (race 8) did not come up nearly as deep, with just seven colts and geldings entered. Mr. Bowling, an easy winner of the Dover Stakes at Delaware Park in his last start for trainer Larry Jones, will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh when breaking from the outside post as one of the main contenders. Seven Lively Sins, a sharp maiden winner at Keeneland, and Motor City, third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, also should vie for favoritism.

Besides fan favorites such as Calvin Borel, Julien Leparoux, and Robby Albarado, other jockeys scheduled to ride here throughout the meet include Hall of Famers Prado and Kent Desormeaux, along with the Bridgmohan brothers, Shaun and Jermaine. Shaun is returning from a collarbone fracture suffered in a Sept. 10 spill at Kentucky Downs.

Churchill will run on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule through Nov. 27. Mark Johnson will be back in the race-caller’s booth.

Big prices at Keeneland

Longshots were nearly as prevalent as raindrops Wednesday at Keeneland in Lexington, where a parade of big-priced horses led to some of the biggest mutuels of the meet.

Witty and Wise ($95.60), making his first start in nearly 16 months, won the third race, after which the late pick four (races 6-9) failed to produce a perfect ticket. Middie ($91.20) won the sixth, Tiz Tee Time ($34) took the seventh, and Abulea ($45.60) prevailed as the longest shot in the featured eighth, so that not even a victory by favored Allen’s Star ($7.60) in the ninth was enough to salvage a pick four sweep.

In a rare occurrence for a track as big as Keeneland, 50-cent tickets with 3 of 4 winners returned $573.05 from a pool of $98,366. Also, there were no perfect tickets in the pick five (races 5-9) from a pool of $41,359, which led to a carryover of $25,125 into Thursday.

The biggest win mutuel of the meet remains the $169.80 returned by Waltzinginredjeans in the first race Oct. 19.

Weather seen as getting better Wednesday and Thursday not only were nasty in Lexington, but also in Louisville, with rain and chilly conditions prevailing for much of both days. But weather.com is saying it’s going to be a pleasant weekend in this region, and the rain is supposed to stay away well into next week, too, with temperatures reaching into the high 50’s.

The long-range forecast for both Breeders’ Cup days calls for mostly sunny skies and a high of 57.

Stately Victor on to bigger

Stately Victor seemed somewhat conspicuous by his absence from the Fayette on Saturday at Keeneland. The 4-year-old colt has run some of his biggest races on synthetic, most notably his record 40-1 upset of the 2010 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but trainer Mike Maker said there are bigger fish to fry, noting that Stately Victor is pre-entered in the BC Marathon and BC Turf.

“Which race we go in depends on the weather,” said Maker.

Stately Victor would have made the fifth Kentucky Derby also-ran to be part of the Fayette lineup. The others are Decisive Moment, General Quarters, Anak Nakal, and Mission Impazible,

Winslow Homer seeks year’s first win

They’ll have all the drama and suspense they want a week from Saturday at Churchill, where Havre de Grace will face the boys in the BC Classic. But just to get a head start on some heady Kentucky action, Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms and trainer Larry Jones will send out Winslow Homer in the sixth race this Saturday at Keeneland, a $57,000, classified allowance at seven furlongs on the Polytrack.

Winslow Homer will be seeking his first victory in four starts this year. The 4-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt was a star in the making early last year when he captured the Holy Bull, but his career has since been compromised by injuries and inconsistent performance.

The sixth race is the first of three allowances leading into the Fayette.

◗ Keeneland has announced that the camouflage saddletowel worn by Grigio and autographed by Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer and many of the track’s top jockeys is for sale on ebay. Grigio set a record of 1:40.86 for 1 1/16 miles in the Sunday race that honored military members and their families, most notably Meyer, who was the special guest of honor.