09/09/2013 2:33PM

Kentucky Downs: Monastic beginning to get good again

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After he dominated a first-level turf allowance race at Churchill Downs in the fall of his 2-year-old year, it looked as if Monastic might be any kind of horse.

But it wasn’t long thereafter that the gelding contracted equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), and he hasn’t been the same since.

“We were hoping he wouldn’t be affected, but obviously it’s compromised his performances to some degree,” trainer Tom Proctor said. “It’s unfortunate, because he was cut out to be a nice one. His last couple races, it’s looked like he might be coming around finally, and he’s still probably good enough to get through a second [allowance] condition. Maybe he’ll do it Wednesday.”

Monastic, now 4, will have Gary Stevens aboard as one of the probable favorites Wednesday in the ninth race at Kentucky Downs. The $96,000 race at a mile and 70 yards is the last of three straight lucrative allowance races on the 10-race card. Other logical contenders in a typically well-matched lineup include Chalice, Southern Parkway, Klisz, and Sound Effect. The race drew 14 entrants, but will be limited to 12 starters.

Each of the allowances (races 7-9) carries a minimum purse of $94,000, although half of each purse includes a bonus restricted to horses eligible to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. The program also includes two $90,000 maiden special weight events (races 3 and 6) for 2-year-olds, also with half the purses coming from the KTDF.

Meanwhile, horses trained by Wesley Ward figure very prominently during the middle portion of the card. Ward has six runners entered in five straight races (3-7) and, remarkably, he has the program favorite in all five.

Ward, who twice has tied for leading-trainer titles at Kentucky Downs (2008, 2010), got a head start on the 2013 meet by winning with 2 of his 3 starters on the Saturday opener. Here are his six runners (with morning-line odds) for Wednesday:
◗ Race 3: Boom Boom Vroom (7-2)
◗ Race 4: Jojo’s Gal and She’s Coal Fired (5-2, entry)
◗ Race 5: Caribbean Lady (3-1)
◗ Race 6: Spring Again (2-1)
◗ Race 7: Shrinking Violet (2-1)

“I like them all,” said Ward, and he is not kidding.

This is the second of five days at turf-only Kentucky Downs in south-central Kentucky, where daily first post is 1:35 p.m. Central.

Fund-raiser for disabled jockeys

The Wednesday card will provide the backdrop for Jockey Hall of Fame Day, a fund-raiser to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Corey Johnsen, the co-owner and president at Kentucky Downs, said in a recent interview that he was particularly proud to be spearheading the effort.

“This is all very important and very close to my heart,” Johnsen said.

The PDJF, incorporated in 2006, provides financial assistance to jockeys who have suffered permanently disabling injuries on the racetrack.

“It’s an incredibly vital organization, and one we’re only too glad to help in any way we can,” he said.

Two active Hall of Fame jockeys, Stevens and Calvin Borel, have mounts on the card, while four others – Pat Day, Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, and Randy Romero – will be on hand throughout the day. All six will participate in an autograph session ($10 fee) from noon to 1 p.m., with all proceeds going to the PDJF.

Anyone wishing to donate to the PDJF can do so at its website.