11/20/2009 1:00AM

Cup merely a Clark prep for Bullsbay

Barbara D. Livingston
Bullsbay ran poorly over the synthetic surface at the Breeders' Cup.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bullsbay is 3 for 4 over the Churchill Downs main track, and his lone defeat resulted in a respectable fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap in June. On top of that, he won the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga this summer.

So even though Bullsbay ran poorly in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, finishing ninth of 10 on the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, trainer Graham Motion feels good about shipping the 5-year-old horse to Churchill for the Grade 2 Clark Handicap on Friday.

"My thought process is he just doesn't handle the synthetic, that he didn't run his race at all," said Motion.

Following a third-place finish behind Rachel Alexandra and Macho Again in the Sept. 5 Woodward, Bullsbay had a minor foot problem that "gave us a little trouble leading up to the Breeders' Cup," said Motion. "It was quite a big effort to get him ready to run there, but now that he's over the foot, I thought it'd be a shame to put him away with him doing so well again. After this we'll give him December off and hopefully have him back there next year for the Breeders' Cup."

Motion added, "I know it sounds strange, but it looks like we'll be using the Breeders' Cup as a prep for the Clark."

Bullsbay is one of about 10 3-year-olds and upward considered likely for the $400,000 Clark. Einstein and Macho Again are the likely favorites in the 1 1/8-mile race, for which entries will be drawn Tuesday.

The Clark is one of five graded stakes that bring an end to the 21-day fall meet. The others are the Falls City Handicap on Thursday, the River City on Friday, and the twin 2-year-old stakes, the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, on the closing-day "Stars of Tomorrow" card Saturday.

Distressed gelding appears healthy

Aside from sending out a 2-year-old filly named Funny Feeling to an impressive debut win, trainer Mike Maker had other good news from the Thursday card: Radical Fringe, a 4-year-old gelding he claimed on behalf of owner Ken Ramsey for $40,000 from a win in a turf sprint, apparently is okay. Radical Fringe was vanned off the track in apparent discomfort after jockey Jesus Castanon dismounted on the backstretch, but Maker said Friday morning he seemed to be fine.

"I don't know what happened yesterday," said Maker. "The horse cooled out fine after the race, and he walked fine this morning. I guess we got lucky."

Funny Feeling, a Distorted Humor filly owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 78 winning her first start by 2 3/4 lengths at a well-meant 2-1.

"You've got to like it when they run the way you think they're going to," said Maker. "We've been excited about bringing her to the races."

Maker had further reason to smile Friday when he sent out Next May to win the opening race at an $18.40 mutuel, giving him a 3 for 5 streak at Churchill after starting the meet 1 for 20.

Emigh to miss rest of year

Jockey Chris Emigh will be out until the start of the Oaklawn Park meet after having a fracture in his collarbone diagnosed. Emigh, who was injured in a spill on the Churchill turf course on Nov. 11, had attempted to come back from the mishap when he rode Proceed Bee to a fifth-place finish in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes here last Sunday.

But pain persisted, and after further examination, Emigh was told to take five to six weeks off. His agent, Terry Miller, said Emigh had intended to ride at Fair Grounds after Churchill ended, but "we'll just go on and shoot for Oaklawn," which begins Jan. 15.

Emigh has ridden primarily in Chicago for years, but this fall he gave the Keeneland and Churchill meets a try, going a combined 5 for 58.

War Echo back in stride

War Echo was a three-length winner as an odds-on favorite here Thursday in the feature race, a second-level allowance for which she was more than qualified. The 3-year-old filly was third to Rachel Alexandra and Sara Louise here last fall in Golden Rod, and she won the Grade 3 Silverbulletday at February before going on a seven-month layoff.

"She came out of her race great," Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said Friday. "We'd like to stretch her out a little farther. She'll go to New Orleans when the meet's over."

Blasi added that Hot Dixie Chick, winner of the Schuylerville and Spinaway this summer, just returned after getting a break and also is bound for New Orleans.

* General Quarters, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes in April, had his second breeze since recovering from knee surgery when going a half-mile in 49.80 seconds here Thursday. It was the second work for the gray colt since his return. Owned and trained by Tom McCarthy, General Quarters has not raced since faring poorly in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

* John Fahey is giving up his public stable to become the agent for jockey Dean Sarvis and apprentice Justin Bishop at the upcoming Turfway Park meet. Fahey, a former Asmussen stablehand, went out on his own in 2004 and had won with 70 of 465 starters and had stable earnings of nearly $1.5 million through Thursday.