11/16/2011 3:15PM

Churchill: River City far better fit for Tajaaweed

Four-Footed Fotos
Tajaaweed, winner of the Arlington Handicap, takes a distinct class drop for Saturday's River City Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Dan Peitz was entertaining thoughts of running Tajaaweed in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland when the horse’s owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, threw in a few words of caution.

“Sheikh Hamdan was at the sales at Keeneland in September, and when I brought up the Shadwell, he said, ‘He is not a Group 1 horse!’” recalled Peitz. “But the horse had been running so well and training so well, I went against his advice.”

Tajaaweed, faced with the likes of Gio Ponti, Get Stormy, and other rugged customers, pretty much ran to his 44-1 odds in the Oct. 8 Shadwell when finishing a non-threatening sixth.

“I got word to the sheikh that he was right,” laughed Peitz.

Tajaaweed, an earner of more than $300,000, must have found a much better spot for Saturday, because he is the 119-pound highweight and one of the obvious contenders when taking what amounts to a sizable class drop into the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs. Eight older horses are entered in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Peitz, who will split his stable this winter between Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park, said he likes the way Tajaaweed has trained since the Shadwell Mile.

“I’m a little concerned about the ground being softer than what he really likes,” he said, referring to steady rains in this area Tuesday and Wednesday. “But his two races at Churchill have both been pretty good, and he’s coming into this the right way.”

From the hedge, this is the River City lineup: Plutonium, Cherokee Lord, Gleam of Hope, Bergerac, Zimmer, Blues Street, Allie’s Event, and Tajaaweed.

Ten races are carded for Saturday, including two allowances, both also scheduled for the turf.