09/08/2012 12:50PM

Kentucky Downs: Holdin Bullets making first start since 2011 Breeders' Cup in one-mile allowance


Wesley Ward was at Aqueduct on Friday to watch Judy the Beauty breeze, then flew home to south Florida for a couple of days to see his children. Ever on the move, Ward was scheduled to be at Kentucky Downs by Monday afternoon to watch one of his many promising young horses, Holdin Bullets, make a long-awaited return to action.

Holdin Bullets, with Julio Garcia to ride, is one of the principals in an oversubscribed field in the second of two allowances on the Monday card at turf-only Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky. The seventh of eight races goes at a mile and carries a $62,000 purse, with half of that money restricted to horses eligible to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

Holdin Bullets has had just one race since winning his 2-year-old debut at Keeneland in April 2011, and that resulted in a third-place finish behind Secret Circle in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs last fall.

“After that nice maiden win, I took him over to France and breezed him at Chantilly,” explained Ward. “He got a little bit of a problem in behind, and we weren’t able to run him there or at Ascot. We got him over that and he was working really nice, and the owner [Steve Bell] said, ‘Let’s take a shot at the Breeders’ Cup.’ The colt ran a beautiful race to be third.

“We took him down to Gulfstream Park and he came up with another little problem. He’s such a nice horse we thought we’d give him all the time he needs to make it back. He’s been working very well at Saratoga, and I shipped him down to Kentucky Downs [Friday]. The mile might be a little far for his first start back, but he’s grown up now and acts like he wants to go farther. I’m excited to get him back to the races.”

Ward, the leading trainer at Keeneland in the spring, said he is pointing a majority of his sizable stable to the six-day Kentucky Downs meet and the 17-day Keeneland fall meet that begins Oct. 5.

“Kentucky’s my spot,” he said.

Besides Holdin Bullets, other considerations include another returnee, Shun, trained by Al Stall Jr., and a pair of last-out maiden winners on the Ellis Park turf, Nicklaus Way and Paroled. Fifteen are entered, but only as many as 12 can start.

An earlier allowance (race 3) actually has a bigger purse ($64,000, half of it from the development fund) than the seventh but seems to have a less compelling cast of filly-mare entrants. Starsilhouette, exiting starter-allowance races, is a 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight entered in the one-mile race.

Big fields continue to be a dominant theme at Kentucky Downs. Not counting also-eligibles, the eight-race Monday card drew 86 runners. The next day of racing is Wednesday, with one more Saturday-Monday-Wednesday run closing out the meet. First post daily is 1:35 p.m. Central.