07/17/2013 2:35PM

Ellis Park: Ride On Curlin pointing for Saratoga Special


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The exciting 2-year-old prospect Ride On Curlin will run next in the Saratoga Special on Aug. 11 unless the colt is sold in a private transaction, trainer Billy Gowan said this week from his Trackside training center base in Louisville.

Ride On Curlin set a track record last Saturday at Ellis Park in western Kentucky when he finished 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03. It was his second career start, following a runner-up finish on June 21 at Churchill Downs to another highly regarded 2-year-old, Conquest Two Step.

After that first start, Gowan and the colt’s owner, Louisville furniture dealer Dan Dougherty, were bombarded with inquiries about buying him. Finally, one of the major outfits from Ireland tentatively had agreed to buy the colt for $1 million, but after that buyer balked, Gowan ran the colt a second time, resulting in the track-record performance, a 91 Beyer Speed Figure, and an increased sales price.

Gowan said the representative for a new prospective buyer who lives in California and owns several Kentucky farms has since made a serious inquiry into the colt but that no firm offer has been forthcoming, “so I’m just going to keep training him like we’re running in the Saratoga Special.”

“We’ll fly him up there about 10 days out and get a work over the track,” he said. “This is a really, really sound colt. He came back out of this last race like it was nothing. He’s the real deal.”

The Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special is run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Ride On Curlin is from the first crop of Curlin, the two-time (2007-08) Horse of the Year. Dougherty bought Ride On Curlin for $25,000 last September at the Keeneland yearling sales. Calvin Borel has ridden the colt in both starts.

Post time change possible at Churchill

Kickoff for the Louisville-at-Kentucky football game on Sept. 14 in Lexington will be noon Eastern, meaning there could be a change in the 12:45 p.m. post time that day at Churchill Downs. The game time was announced Tuesday by ESPN.

Churchill already has scheduled two Downs After Dark programs for its new 12-day Homecoming meet, those being Sept. 7 and 28. Post time for those days is 6 p.m. A Churchill spokesman said during the recent spring-summer meet that a daytime UL-UK game could possibly lead the track to convert the Sept. 14 card into a third evening program so as to avoid a conflict with a game that is extremely popular with local sports fans.

Meanwhile, Sept. 14 also is the date of the new Kentucky Downs Million Day, with five stakes worth $1 million to be run that afternoon.

Kentucky Downs owner Corey Johnsen said via Twitter that he was “not sure that horses follow UK or Louisville. Racing office felt (the) 14th would attract best quality on our allotted dates. Limited options.”

Faster name than horse

Donnie Grego wanted a name that sounded fast for a horse he hoped would be fast, so one day he went to the Kentucky Derby Museum looking through old runnings of the Derby.

He came up with the name Rae Jet, the last-place finisher behind Majestic Prince and Arts and Letters in the 1969 running.

The latest incarnation of Rae Jet will make his career debut Friday in the first race at Ellis. The 3-year-old New York-bred colt, bought for $40,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sales, is entered for a $10,000 claiming tag.

“He’s in for 10, so he’s not going to be a stakes horse,” said Grego.

The long-ago Rae Jet was trained by Tommy “Cosmo” Cosden, a longtime friend of Grego’s. Cosden, a popular racetrack figure and local musician, is recuperating in a Louisville nursing home after suffering a health scare.

“Because of Cosmo, a whole lot of people are going to be watching this horse, so hopefully he’ll run well,” said Grego.

Bernhardt attracts six

A field of six has been entered for the Saturday feature at Ellis, the $50,000 Don Bernhardt at 6 1/2 furlongs. From the rail, they are Good Lord, Point Finish, Good Morning Diva, Moe Man, Right to Vote, and Viramundo.

The Bernhardt is the second of four stakes at the meet. The annual highlight, the $100,000 Gardenia, is set for Aug. 10.

Saturday also will bring more of the ever-popular weiner dog races between Thoroughbred events. Camel and ostrich races are set for the following Saturday, July 27.