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Fair Grounds: Simms gearing up with his 3-year-olds
By Marty McGee
Garry Simms made it to the next year, just like everyone else on this side of the ground. He is extremely thankful for that, having suffered from multiple myeloma for the last three years while inspiring an untold number of fans and colleagues with his faith and perseverance.
Simms, a trainer for more than 20 years, has had his spirits buoyed by this remarkable fact: a full quarter of his 16-horse stable at Fair Grounds in New Orleans this winter has an outside shot or better at making one of the spring classics at his home track of Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old colt Circle Unbroken is close to making his return to action as Simms points him in the direction of the May 4 Kentucky Derby, while three 3-year-old fillies – Blueeyesintherein, Brotherhood Singer, and Givmethreestepsmr – all are considered hopefuls for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.
Asked by phone this week whether he intends to make it back to Louisville with at least one of that foursome for the Derby or Oaks, Simms responded with a confident and enthusiastic, “Well, yeahhh!”
Simms, 61, said all four are thriving in their morning training over the main surface at Fair Grounds, which he calls “very forgiving.”
Circle Unbroken, winner of the Bashford Manor at Churchill in June, recently had his fourth workout over the track.
“He’s up to five-eighths, so he should be ready to go in about three weeks,” Simms said. “He’s Florida-bred, so we might try to get him into an allowance at Gulfstream Park and take him over there. Or we might try to get something for him to go here. We just want a little prep for him, preferably not a stake.”
Circle Unbroken, by Broken Vow, had minor ankle surgery after finishing second as the 2-5 favorite in the Aug. 4 Mountaineer Juvenile in his final start at 2.
Blueeyesintherein, winner of the Debutante Stakes in June, had her first workout Saturday since returning from an injured tibia, breezing an easy three furlongs in 37.80 seconds. The injury did not require surgery.
“She’s probably 6 or 7 weeks from a race, but the good thing is she’ll come around a little faster than him,” Simms said. “We’ll just look for a spot that fits as a prep.”
Brotherhood Singer, the beaten favorite in the recent Letellier Memorial, will probably run in the $125,000 Silverbulletday at a mile and 70 yards on Jan. 19, Simms said.
“We’re really wanting to see how she does when we get her stretched out,” he said.
Givmethreestepsmr won her only start, an Ellis Park sprint in July, by 4 1/2 lengths and has been working in company with Circle Unbroken on a regular basis since early December.
“We’re excited about her,” Simms said. “In her only race, she beat Moonwalker,” the eventual winner of the Grade 3 Jessamine County on the Keeneland turf. “She had a little issue, but has come back real well.”
Meanwhile, Simms said he planned to attend the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night, but that he wasn’t feeling all that great. His battle with myeloma, an insidious cancer, is a constant in his life.
“All in all, I’m okay,” he said. “I’ve felt better, and I’ve felt worse. I’m just trying to get through one day at a time and thanking God all the while.”
◗ The Friday co-features at Fair Grounds – such as they are – are a pair of $17,000 starter allowance sprints carded as races 7 and 9 on a 10-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Central.
The next program with a twilight first post is scheduled for Jan. 18.
The Saturday feature is the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace for older Louisiana-breds at a mile on turf.
A week from Saturday, Jan. 12, is the next date for a non-restricted stakes race at Fair Grounds: the $75,000 Pan Zareta for filly and mare turf sprinters. That’s also the date for the (non-betting) zebra and ostrich races.
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