11/26/2008 1:00AM

Commission lets Einstein run

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Einstein was permitted to enter the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission granted an owner's license to Matthew L. Garretson, in whose name the horse will run Friday as the court-appointed receiver for former owners Midnight Cry Stable.

Leading up to the Clark, there was speculation that Einstein might not be able to run because of the legal troubles that have plagued Midnight Cry, the racing entity owned by Shirley Cunningham and William Gallion, the disbarred attorneys who are at the center of the highly publicized fen-phen diet drug scandal.

In several races earlier this year, Einstein, a multiple Grade 1 winner with career earnings of more than $1.36 million, had been permitted to compete for Melissa Green and Patricia Cunningham under a lessor-lessee agreement with Midnight Cry. But Kentucky regulations were amended earlier this month to close that loophole, and only after commission officials agreed earlier this week to permit the transfer of ownership was the horse allowed to enter Tuesday.

John Veitch, chief steward for the commission, explained that Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Roger Crittenden, who has overseen the fen-phen settlement case for about a year, "issued an order that completely divests Cunningham and Gallion of any control of the horses once owned by Midnight Cry. The court recognizes that Mr. Garretson has the power that normally would be vested with the owner."

All proceeds earned by Einstein and other Midnight Cry horses will go toward settling a $42 million judgment on behalf of more than 400 plaintiffs in their class-action lawsuit against Cunningham and Gallion.

"In order for the Midnight Cry horses to participate and generate funds for that account, the commission and stewards feel comfortable with Mr. Garretson as a legal entity," said Veitch.

Garretson also is the court-appointed receiver in financial matters involving Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year in whom Midnight Cry holds a 20 percent ownership interest.

Einstein will be making his first start in some 3 1/2 months when he tries to upset Commentator in the $400,000 Clark. A Brazilian-bred 6-year-old, Einstein suffered a minor injury to his hind end when he stumbled at the start and finished fifth in his latest start, the Aug. 9 Arlington Million, but he has rebounded nicely in recent weeks, according to trainer Helen Pitts.

Einstein has had four workouts this month over the Churchill main track, ending with a bullet five-furlong drill here Sunday. Julien Leparoux, the leading rider at the Churchill fall meet, has the mount.

Timber Reserve will try to stay close

In his best races, Timber Reserve has tended to be close to the lead. And with the Clark noticeably lacking in speed other than Commentator, it looks like Timber Reserve and jockey Kent Desormeaux will be in closest pursuit to the heavy favorite for much of the way.

In his last race, a Nov. 7 allowance at Aqueduct, Timber Reserve faded to sixth, but trainer John Kimmel said the track was full of moisture despite being listed as fast. Timber Reserve would very much prefer a fast track Friday, according to Kimmel. There is no rain in the local forecast through Saturday, closing day of the Churchill fall meet.

Kimmel said he is pinning his upset hopes partly on the fact that Commentator hasn't raced in 10 weeks. "He hasn't run in a long time," he said.

Desormeaux teamed with Kimmel to win the Clark two years ago with Premium Tap. The 2006 running was the only time the Clark was a Grade 1. It has been a Grade 2 before and after.

Desormeaux notched his first of two Clark wins 20 years ago aboard Balthazar B.

Da' Tara drops into allowance

The last time a Belmont Stakes winner raced at Churchill was in 2000, when Lemon Drop Kid finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The next time will be Friday, when Nick Zito drops his reigning Belmont winner, Da' Tara, into an allowance race.

Da' Tara ran poorly in all three tries since his 38-1 stunner in the June 7 Belmont, but Zito feels the colt is getting a bad rap unjustifiably.

"Everybody keeps saying he's the next Commendable," referring to the colt who accomplished very little before and after upsetting the 2000 Belmont. "But I think he's a quality horse. He's by Tiznow, which is fabulous, and he's going to be a good 4-year-old, I think."

Da' Tara, with John Velazquez to ride, will break from post 3 in the ninth race, a 1 1/16-mile, third-level allowance that drew a field of eight. Owned by Robert LaPenta, the colt actually is eligible for second-level conditions, but Zito said that's largely irrelevant.

"He's a Belmont winner, so skipping conditions - what's the difference?" he said. "We're just trying to rebound and get him moving the right way for next year."

Fields drawn for KJC, Golden Rod

Ten 2-year-olds are entered in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, while seven 2-year-old fillies are entered in the Golden Rod Stakes, the closing-day features that anchor the Stars of Tomorrow program here Saturday.

Capt. Candyman Can, winner of the Iroquois, will be favored in the KJC, while Dream Empress, second to Stardom Bound in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, is the logical choice in the Golden Rod.

The KJC and Golden Rod are both Grade 2, $150,000 races run at 1 1/16 miles.

All 12 Saturday races are restricted to 2-year-olds. Also on tap are two $56,000 turf stakes, the Grand Canyon for colts and geldings and the Caressing for fillies, as well as four allowance races.

Also Saturday, Curlin will be paraded before the crowd between the fifth and sixth races, with a brief winner's circle tribute to follow.

If you can't beat 'em . . .

A touch of irony might not be lost on fans who were here Nov. 11, when Leparoux was going for a record-breaking eighth victory of the day aboard Sinister in the 10th and final race.

Sinister finished second to Next Adventure in that race, so Leparoux had to settle for tying Pat Day's 23-year-old record for most wins on a Churchill card.

And now, in the 12th and last race Friday, Next Adventure will make his first start since his Nov. 11 victory when ridden by . . . Leparoux.