08/26/2013 3:41PM

Indiana Downs: Statebreds in spotlight for sprint stakes Wednesday


A pair of sprint stakes for Indiana-breds ages 3 and up highlights Wednesday night’s nine-race card at Indiana Downs.

Facey’s Spirit easily won the prep for the $85,000 Merrillville Stakes and likely will be favored in the 10-horse Merrilville field, which includes three coupled entries. Trained by Chris Dorris, Facey’s Spirit led from start to finish in the Aug. 6 prep and won by 4 1/2 lengths. Her victory came after a two-month freshening following her first two starts of the year.

In her 2013 debut April 30, Facey’s Spirit set the pace for a half-mile before tiring to fourth in an open allowance race. She then set the pace for a half-mile in the Shelby County Stakes before finishing second to Ms. Smitty, another entrant in the Merrillville. Both local races were at six furlongs, the same distance as Wednesday’s race.

The 5-year-old Facey’s Spirit has won 4 of 8 locally. C.C. Lopez will ride. Lopez and Dorris have teamed up to win at a 31 percent clip at Indiana Downs over the past two seasons.

While Facey’s Spirit is likely to have the early lead, Ms. Smitty will be running late. Trained by Cindy Huber as part of an entry with Waki Mistress, Ms. Smitty won three consecutive races over the Indiana Downs strip earlier in the year, including the Shelby County, all from off the pace. Marlon St. Julien will retain the mount.

Rounding out the field are Linda’s Lace, Aint She a Saint, Dreamin Big, the entry of Indy Pie and Yeardley, and the entry of Rivertown Belle and Hoosier Honey.

In the companion race for males, the six-furlong Brickyard, Pass the Crown’s come-from-behind style should benefit from plenty of early speed in the field of a dozen, with three horses on the also-eligible list. Pass the Crown finished a fast-closing third in the prep race for the Brickyard on Aug. 7.

Trained by Merrill Roberts, the 5-year-old has won only once in seven starts this season. On June 18, he came from off the pace to win a statebred allowance going a mile and 70 yards. Most recently, he ran an even sixth in an open allowance going 7 1/2 furlongs on turf Aug. 20. Albin Jimenez will ride.

Dread the Pirate won the prep by a neck in front-running fashion Aug. 7. It was the first time in three attempts that the 3-year-old defeated older horses, and it was his first win in five starts this year. Last season, Dread the Pirate won three races, all at Hoosier Park: a maiden race, the Crown Ambassador, and the Indiana Futurity. St. Julien will ride.

This is the final week of the meet that Indiana Downs will run in the evening. Beginning Monday, first post will be 1:55 p.m. through the end of the meet, Oct. 19.