05/02/2013 11:18AM

Churchill Downs Stakes matches Delaunay and Trinniberg


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trinniberg is the defending divisional champion, but Delaunay is the “now” horse.

Throw in a few other capable sorts, and the Grade 2, $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes has come up big again.

Trinniberg, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Eclipse Award champion, will line up right alongside Delaunay, winner of five stakes in a row, in what shapes up as a terrific renewal of the seven-furlong Churchill Downs, which directly precedes the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic as the ninth of 13 Saturday races (post time, 3:49 p.m. Eastern).

Delaunay, with Rosie Napravnik to ride, was assigned the outside post in a field of nine older horses, with Trinniberg and jockey Willie Martinez starting just to their inside in post 8.

“The best news is the post we got,” said trainer Tom Amoss, who just a bit later in the day will give Napravnik a leg up on Mylute in the 139th Kentucky Derby. “That gives Rosie a lot of freedom to do what she wants out there. The horse has shown how ratable he is, and she can just stalk the speed as long as she needs to. We were very fortunate with the draw.”

Delaunay was claimed for $40,000 nearly a year ago at Churchill in a three-way shake by Amoss on behalf of Maggi Moss, and the now 6-year-old gelding has gone on to win 6 of 7 starts, all in ungraded stakes, while consistently earning huge Beyer Speed Figures. In his last two starts, Delaunay earned a 110 for winning the F.W. Gaudin Memorial and a 111 for his victory in the Duncan Kenner, both at Fair Grounds. He is listed as the 2-1 second choice on the Churchill program.

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Trinniberg, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, is trained by Shivananda Parbhoo, whose family owns the speedy 4-year-old colt. Since fading badly after giving futile chase to Bodemeister through the first six furlongs of the 2012 Derby, Trinniberg has become quite an accomplished sprinter, with the BC Sprint victory being his most notable feat. His lone start this year resulted in an 11th-place finish in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen five weeks ago.

“He will be on the lead as he normally is,” Parbhoo said early Thursday. “You can’t hold him back. The outside horse [Delaunay], we will see how long he can stay.”

The supporting cast is a fine one and is led by Unbridled’s Note, a Steve Asmussen-trained colt who earned an eye-catching 114 Beyer Speed Figure in a two-back triumph in a minor down-the-hill turf stakes at Santa Anita. Corey Nakatani rides from post 5.

Other fringe players include Hierro, unbeaten in two starts over the Churchill dirt; Laurie’s Rocket, a D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt making a noteworthy stretchout from a series of six-furlong races; Handsome Mike, winner of the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland three weeks ago; and Politicallycorrect, a winner of two stakes last fall, including the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby.

Night Party and Pass the Dice round out the cast.

This will be the 79th running of the Churchill Downs. The 2012 edition was won in a memorable stretch duel by Shackleford over defending sprint champion Amazombie.