04/08/2010 11:00PM

For five, trail started at High Pointe


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Elliott Walden quit training to work as racing manager for WinStar Farm in the summer of 2005, he was skeptical about having young horses broken and trained in Kentucky in the winter.

Several years later, Walden can point to the half-dozen WinStar 3-year-olds still on the 2010 Triple Crown trail and happily concede his doubts were unfounded. Of the six WinStar horses being considered for the Kentucky Derby or Preakness, five were broken and trained as yearlings and in the early stages of their 2-year-old seasons at the High Pointe training center, some 30 miles northeast of Louisville in LaGrange, Ky.

Endorsement, American Lion, and Rule - all Derby hopefuls - were raised at High Pointe, as were Drosselmeyer, who runs next in the Preakness, and Chief Counsel, who will run April 17 in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Only Super Saver, who was broken and trained in Ocala and is another Derby hopeful for WinStar, was not raised at High Pointe, where the facilities include a six-furlong dirt track, an undulating half-mile synthetic oval, and an indoor arena.

"Like anything in life, you find a comfort level, and that's a big part of the battle," Walden said. "We've found a comfort level at High Pointe. Training horses in the dead of winter in Kentucky is something you wouldn't think could be done that easily, but the way we're set up there, it sure has worked for us."

High Pointe drew notice from Turfway Park fans in mid-February, when the top three finishers in the Valdale Stakes shipped from there.

Meanwhile, Endorsement had his first workout Friday since winning the March 28 WinStar Derby, breezing a half-mile in 46.80 seconds over a Keeneland Polytrack that played particularly fast. Endorsement, trained by Shannon Ritter, will have one more work at Keeneland before moving to Churchill Downs for the May 1 Derby, Walden said.

Game On Dude among Lexington probables

Besides Chief Counsel, most recently fourth in the Lane's End Stakes, at least seven other 3-year-olds are expected for the $300,000 Lexington, the unofficial last stop on the road to the Derby. Those other prospects for the 1 1/16-mile race include Connemara, Distorted Dave, Fearless Cowboy, Game On Dude, Kettle River, Uptowncharlybrown, and Workin for Hops.

Game On Dude will be making his first start for Bob Baffert since one of Baffert's clients, Bernie Schiappa, bought an ownership stake in the Awesome Again colt. Game On Dude finished seventh in the March 20 Florida Derby in just his third start and when still trained by Mike Mareina.

Jockeys required to sign up for info database

Keeneland has made it mandatory for all jockeys who ride here to sign up for the Jockey Health Information System, a comprehensive database that was first put in use at the 2008 fall meet. The system, once voluntary, is in place so that jockeys' medical histories will be immediately accessible in case of an emergency.

"We had eight new jockeys sign up during the first two days of the meet," said Dr. Barry Schumer, the longtime track physician at Keeneland. "We'd love to see this spread to more tracks so that information is available wherever they ride."

From Riverside to debut victory

It is rare that a first-time starter with workouts at the Riverside Downs training center wins a 4 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds at Keeneland. But that's what happened in the first race here Friday, when She'll Heir, trained by John Hancock, surged past an odds-on Wesley Ward favorite, Aroyalsweet, to prevail at a $44.40 win mutuel.

She'll Heir, a Florida-bred filly by Wildcat Heir, had prepped at Riverside in Henderson, Ky., before moving to Churchill for her final work before her smashing debut.

* Wayne Catalano said he will have 12 stalls throughout the Churchill Downs spring meet, which runs April 24 to July 4. Catalano usually consolidates his stable at Arlington Park, where he is the perennial leading trainer, but he said, "For the ones that don't fit the Poly, we'll have some dirt action."

* The public is invited to the second annual "Riders Up!" karaoke night and autograph session, to be held Friday, April 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern in the Keeneland Entertainment Center. Tickets are $50. More information is available at keeneland.com.