10/24/2012 2:55PM

Keeneland notes: Newsdad searches for old form on Polytrack

Tom Keyser
Newsdad will return to Polytrack for Saturday's Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It’s been a little more than a year since Newsdad pulled off one of the more notable feats of his career. Now 4, the colt set the Polytrack record at Keeneland for 1 1/4 miles when he knocked out his first allowance condition on Oct. 11, 2011. He finished in 2:00.61 and drew off by daylight, leading his connections to believe the colt would go on to greater things.

He has – sort of. Newsdad, bred and owned by Jim Karp and trained by Bill Mott, has won 2 of 9 subsequent starts, including a victory in March in the Grade 2 Pan American on the Gulfstream Park turf. Since then, however, Newsdad has finished no better than fourth in four races, all on turf and all in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company.

For the first time since his record triumph, Newsdad will be returning to the Keeneland Polytrack on Saturday when he runs in the Grade 2, $150,000 Fayette Stakes. Kenny McCarthy, the Kentucky assistant to Mott, said the colt was shipped to him shortly after a last-place finish in the Sept. 8 Bowling Green at Belmont Park.

“He has trained very well the last few weeks and absolutely looks fantastic,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got big expectations for him Saturday.”

Newsdad, with Julien Leparoux to ride, will start from post 4 in the 1 1/8-mile Fayette, which is likely to have 3-year-old Take Charge Indy as the favorite. Take Charge Indy (post 5, Calvin Borel) won the Florida Derby before suffering an ankle injury when 19th of 20 in his most recent start, the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

From the rail, this is the lineup for the 54th Fayette, which helps close out the 17-day fall meet at Keeneland: Guys Reward, Photo Shoot, Nikki’s Sandcastle, Newsdad, Take Charge Indy, Salto, Golden Yank, Middie, Vertiformer, Eye of the Leopard, and Twinspired.

Animal Kingdom arrives for work

Animal Kingdom is back for the first time in the state where he earned racing immortality, having arrived at Keeneland on Monday night from the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. When the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner went out for an easy gallop Tuesday morning, it was on the two-year anniversary of his first win, which came on Oct. 23, 2010 in a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race at Keeneland.

Trainer Graham Motion will be in to oversee a five-furlong workout on the Keeneland turf Friday for Animal Kingdom. The colt is booked on a Saturday charter from Louisville to California, where he will run Nov. 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Churchill preparing for opener

Hundreds of workers have been busy at Churchill Downs preparing the plant for the 21-day fall meet that starts Sunday with a Stars of Tomorrow program restricted exclusively to 2-year-olds. The 137-year-old plant is undergoing yet another substantial renovation, with only a portion of it expected to be complete in time for this meet.

Churchill is spending about $9 million on a three-fold project: the sixth-floor Mansion for upscale customers; the relocated media center in the former administration offices on the first-floor grandstand; and the renovated “Plaza” area near the paddock, where some 30,000 feet have been freed up with the razing of the old Paddock Pavilion. Only a bare-bones outdoor Plaza area will be ready for this meet, while the rest is expected fully ready for the 2013 spring meet.

Entries for the opening-day card, which will have the Grade 2 Pocahontas and Grade 3 Iroquois as co-features, were to be drawn Thursday.

12-year-old set for Friday start

Blue Mon will be making his 65th career start, and his second at Keeneland, in the 10th race Friday as something of a novelty – he’s 12 years old. Owned and trained by Wayne Rice, the Florida-bred gelding was no factor when overmatched last week in allowance company in his local debut.

There is no age limit for horses racing in Kentucky, although the stewards can use their discretion in preventing a horse from racing if they feel it presents a potential danger. Such a situation arose at the 2009 fall meet at Churchill when a 12-year-old named Grand Forks was not permitted to run.