05/18/2010 11:00PM

Connie and Michael returns on dirt


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Connie and Michael made about as splashy a career debut as possible, earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure last October at Keeneland. Thrown immediately into the deep end of the equine pool, the filly was not quite as impressive in defeat in back-to-back November stakes after joining the Southern California contingent of the Ken McPeek stable.

Nearly half a year later, Connie and Michael will resurface at Churchill Downs when she essentially starts over. The 3-year-old filly will be heavily favored when looking to knock out her first allowance condition in the Thursday feature, a $50,000 one-turn mile on the main track.

Connie and Michael will have Julien Leparoux aboard when she breaks from post 5 and faces six other fillies and mares in the eighth of nine Thursday races.

"She's always been cut out to be a top filly," McPeek said. "We stopped on her after her last race in California, gave her some time on my farm here in Lexington, even had her do a little bit in Ocala. She's come back real well. If she does what she's capable of, she should be real tough in this comeback race."

Connie and Michael will be making her first start on dirt after winning first out on the Keeneland Polytrack, then running eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on synthetic, and third in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes on the Hollywood Park turf. McPeek noted that a bullet half-mile drill over the Chuchill dirt on May 8 signaled the filly's readiness to resume her racing career.

"The dirt's something of an unknown, and I actually would've liked to have gone back to the turf with her," he said. "But the timing didn't work out that way. At Keeneland, she won a one-turn chute race, which is what this is. We should be good."

One of the main rivals for Connie and Michael will load right alongside her in post 6: Flying Spur, whose claim to fame is back-to-back on-the-board finishes behind Rachel Alexandra last year. Flying Spur was second in the Fair Grounds Oaks and third in the Kentucky Oaks in 2009.

First post Thursday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern. There are no carryovers into the pick 6 (races 4-9) or the super high five (race 9).