10/03/2012 1:58PM

Keeneland: Phoenix marks Aikenite's first race since retirement

Tom Keyser
Aikenite hasn't raced since the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He'll make his return in the Phoenix.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Retired by Dogwood Stable in March, graded stakes winner Aikenite found no immediate takers among stud farms, with the 2012 breeding season already underway.

Pulled out of retirement and returning in Friday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Phoenix on opening day at Keeneland, he seems likely to receive more interest, albeit this time from the wagering public. Having compiled a record of 2 wins and 2 seconds from 5 starts over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface, he is a co-second choice on the track’s program at 4-1 odds with Sum of the Parts, right behind his uncoupled stablemate, 3-1 favorite Doctor Chit.

A troublesome ankle, which sparked his ill-timed retirement while in training in Florida this year, has responded well to rest and veterinary treatments, leaving him ready for his return, Dogwood president Cot Campbell noted.

“We always said, if he tells us to stop, we’ll stop,” Campbell said of the Aikenite’s comeback. “And he didn’t.”

But opposed to what is typical for a well-known boxer retuning from long hiatus from the ring, his first match back isn’t a gimme. The Phoenix, a Win and You’re In qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, is an above-average Grade 3 race, and he is not alone in having shown an affinity for racing over synthetic surfaces.

[KEENELAND: Get opening-day PPs, watch Friday's full card live]

Doctor Chit and Sum of the Parts are each 2 for 2 on it. Doctor Chit won a maiden race at Keeneland in the spring with a 97 Beyer Speed Figure, and followed that with a first-level allowance score at Woodbine; and Sum of the Parts romped in an entry-level allowance at Keeneland on April 20 before winning the Tom Ridge Stakes at Presque Isle on the synthetic Tapeta surface there May 15.

Both have remained sharp in stakes restricted to 3-year-olds since. Doctor Chit won the Western Lara on the Belmont main track before a second in the Grade 2 Amsterdam and a fourth in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga. And Sum of the Parts won the $400,000 Red Legend at Charles Town, only to subsequently finish second in the $80,000 Groovy Stakes on grass at Belmont.

Although Aikenite will be at a recency disadvantage, not having raced since a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November, as a late finisher he could prove the recipient of a favorable pace set-up – with at least five of the 10 entries being regular front-runners, including the other race favorites.

John Velazquez, aboard for four of Aikenite’s five victories, returns in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Other notable Phoenix entries include millionaire Noble’s Promise, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2009, and Lonesome Street, winner of the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland on April 14.


Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
we wish them well...
Perl More than 1 year ago
He's a horse for the course of course!
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
If there are no takers for breeding then why not bring him back, as long as the horse is doing well then let him do what he loves to do and that is to run. Mr.Campbell is a respected horseman in the business and takes excellent care of his horses. Those that are being Naysayers must be new to the game or are members of pita
Joyce Johnson Groome More than 1 year ago
If you want to return the horse to racing...that's fine! But to throw him in a G3 race after a long layoff! Screams greed to me! I feel sorry for these horses who don't do well in their breeding careers and owners who have to squeeze every last dime out of them! If this horse gets hurt, it only puts a black eye on the industry! I have been a long time fan and follow the sport closely and love it! But I love these beautiful animals more and get very concerned when I read articles similar to this one! I don't know Mr. Campbell personally but I am very skeptical ! An allowance race would have been more appropriate at this juncture.I guess they want to hurry up and hope he gets into the Breeders Cup! I do not belong to peta,( not pita), I admit they are a little crazy but they do care about the welfare of animals! More than I can say for some characters in the horseracing industry who are in it for only one thing! MONEY!!!!!!!!!
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
This sport is just a huge black eye. I agree 100% he should start in an allowance.But it's pletcher
Standiforx More than 1 year ago
sat.customer if the whole sport is just a huge black eye, why do you waste your time posting here? With an attitude like that, I understand why your only friends are your creditors, but the rest of us really don't need to know how miserable you are.
PeterG More than 1 year ago
I picked Aikenite to win the Preakness back in 2010. Didn't work out too well for me.
redboy More than 1 year ago
We always said ,if he tells us to stop,well stop. WTF?.last i heard horses cant speak.! Whats next Rise of the planet of the thoroughbreds.NOOOO!
BaylieBrownRock More than 1 year ago
Does anyone realize, aiknete was one of the most under achieving horses of all time... aikenete started his career here in keenland against his arch rival nobles promise...I know aikenete will come in first, he is a 6 furlong specialist, ESP at his favorite track
Kenny Garcia More than 1 year ago
Ok so is he going to come in first or is he going to underachieve lol
Perl More than 1 year ago
Of all time?? Really?
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
more like a 7F specialist. Good play for 3rd or 4t here in exotics
BaylieBrownRock More than 1 year ago
Frank More than 1 year ago
"We always said, if he tells us to stop, we’ll stop” - Campbell says. So Horses talk now? They have a say in how hard they are trained and raced?
Greg Scherr More than 1 year ago
I have to ask Frank, are you like 10 years old, as that's one of the most moronic comments an adult could post. If you have any knowledge of horse racing the comment means that if the horse physically shows any sign of soreness, the inability to train correctly or signs that the horse has no interest in training is how a horse "tells the trainer how he feels"
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
You are a moron.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Obviously sarcasm was lost on the previous repliers.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Also. Lets bring Frank Alexander back from retirement so Dogwood horses have a hands on horseman on their side. Give him ALL your stock.
Alex More than 1 year ago
*applause* Frank is 10x the horseman that Pletcher is.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
He is the best. Worked with him in 01-02. In barn every day at 5:30. Old school.
Five More than 1 year ago
Thomas, one of my all-time favorites, besides Shuggy, was the Woodman, Woody Stephens. I lived in the neighborhood with him in the 1980's, at Miami Lakes, when he came down of course. How was he ? Ever worked with him ?
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Not him personally. Met him. Worked with Bill Badgett who was one of his assistants before he wenton his own. You learn a lot from these men. But Frank is best I benn around. Very little meds. Hands on. Lets the horse develope. Woody was amazing though. Different era for me though.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
With folks ranting over early retirement for one "lame" excuse to another, I welcome him back. Cot would not do this unless the horse was right. Farm rest goes a long way.