07/18/2007 11:00PM

Going for Bernhardt repeat


Five times in the history of Ellis Park a horse has swept the Don Bernhardt Stakes and the Governor's Handicap. The latest sweep occurred last year by Junior College, who just happens to be back Saturday as defending champion in the $50,000 Bernhardt at the Henderson, Ky., track.

Tony Reinstedler has been the trainer of Junior College throughout the 5-year-old gelding's shrewdly managed career, one that has resulted in eight wins and earnings of nearly $240,000. Unlike last year, however, when Junior College came to the Ellis meet off sprint races at Churchill Downs, the gelding will be trying to negotiate the 6 1/2 furlongs of the Bernhardt after two turf routes at Churchill.

Reinstedler said there weren't many opportunities for Junior College at Churchill because he had no allowance conditions left.

"His first race on the grass was really good, but I didn't think he cared for the softer turf last out," he said. "It's just a matter of circumstances, the different way we're approaching these two races at Ellis this year."

Junior College is owned by the Mjaka Stable, which essentially is composed of the family of the retired equine veterinarian Dr. Gary Lavin and his wife, Betsy. Reinstedler was sending eight horses to Saratoga from Churchill on Friday, and he said Junior College will stay behind to run back in the one-mile Governor's on Aug. 11.

Junior College, with Jesus Castanon to ride, drew the outside post in a field of nine older runners in the Bernhardt, which is named for the late sports editor of the Evansville Courier and Press.

"He came out of his races at Churchill in great shape, and he's trained really well, so we thought we'd shoot for Ellis again, since he really seems to like it," said Reinstedler.

Among the other contenders in the Bernhardt are Monkey Hill, a steady performer who was second in the race last year; Greater Good, a late-running gelding with earnings of nearly $550,000 from 24 career starts; and Spotsgone, who came to life in his last two starts, which came over the new Polytrack surface at Arlington Park.

Monkey Hill, trained by Tom Amoss, comes off a Mountaineer Park allowance win that equated to a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. John McKee has the mount.

The balance of the field is Cognac Kisses, Off Duty, Final Copy, Funky Pirate, and Smalltown Slew. The Bernhardt goes as the 10th of 11 races on a Saturday card that starts at 1:40 p.m. Central.