11/03/2017 1:26PM

Combs savors first training win from afar

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Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Ostentation wins race 3 at Churchill Downs on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When Bentley Combs wants to reflect on his first win as a trainer, he can look at the win photo of Ostentation from the third race at Churchill Downs on Thursday. He just won’t see himself in it.

No matter, he said. The race will always be etched in his memory. He watched it on his phone outside the stall of Breeders’ Cup Distaff entrant Forever Unbridled at Del Mar, where Combs is this week as an assistant to Dallas Stewart.

“People were looking at a me funny ‘cause I was screaming,” he said.

Being an assistant is the full-time gig for Combs, though not for long. After returning to Kentucky following the Breeders’ Cup, he will fully pursue his training career, leaving the security of his position with Stewart and working to expand a stable of runners for the winter to take to Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

As of Friday morning, he had one horse, and it wasn’t even Ostentation anymore. That horse, whom he also owned, was claimed off him for $16,000, going to owner and trainer Shane Meyers, though Combs replaced him a couple of hours later by claiming the winner of the seventh race, Proud Dixie, for owner Jan Martin.

Combs, a 29-year-old Lexington, Ky., native, originally wanted to pursue a frontside job in horse racing. He attended the University of Louisville equine program for a while before graduating from Ole Miss. But his calling came on the backside, where he has been employed for five years by Stewart, beginning first as a hotwalker and groom before advancing to assistant trainer.

Mom’s On Strike sheds blinkers

Mom’s On Strike, the runner-up in last fall’s Pebbles Stakes at Belmont, is the morning-line favorite in Sunday’s featured ninth race at Churchill, a first-level $62,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. She will race with blinkers off after she failed to pass the stretch leader in an off-the-grass race contested in the slop at Keeneland on Oct. 8. She finished second, beaten a neck. She is reunited with jockey Joe Rocco Jr., who rode her to her lone victory, which came in April 2016 at Oaklawn.

Defrock, Little Mizzy, and Tamit appear to be her principal challengers in a race that drew a full field of 12.