07/02/2009 11:00PM

Look for Closeout to close deal


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - "Down the road" is a signature saying for trainer Tom Proctor. As a lifelong racetracker who moves from venue to venue, he surely will be uttering his trademark sign-off when the next migration comes due with the end of the Churchill Downs spring meet Sunday.

First, however, Proctor will try to successfully close out the meet with Closeout, one of the top contenders in the closing-day feature, the Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove Handicap. In a one-mile turf race with speed aplenty, Closeout looks like the most capable closer in a field of eight fillies and mares, and Proctor is optimistic that the 4-year-old filly will move up substantially off her last race, the June 6 Mint Julep, which was her first start in nearly eight months.

"You can't hardly get an allowance prep for a good horse like her anymore, so I had to run her in that stake," said Proctor, whose next stops will include Saratoga, where he plans to ship a small string of runners.

Closeout, a winner in 4 of 8 starts at 3, including two stakes wins, was closer to the pace than usual in the Mint Julep before fading to fifth.

"She was a little rank because she hadn't run in a while," said Proctor. "That's kind of the way she is anyway, but there's more speed in this race Sunday, and I expect her to settle a lot nicer this time around."

Closeout will be ridden by Robby Albarado when she breaks from post 3 in the Locust Grove, the 10th of 11 races on the closing-day card.

Tizaqueena will carry high weight of 118 pounds and could be a slight favorite under Jamie Theriot. The 4-year-old filly faded to third in the Mint Julep after winning her four previous races, including the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on the May 2 Kentucky Derby undercard.

Tizaqueena, shipping in from Chicago for trainer Mike Stidham, will break from post 4 when she spots her rivals from two to six pounds. She has shown a high turn of speed throughout her seven-race career and probably will need to avoid getting into a ruinous duel with the likes of Tensas Yucatan and Gloria Goodbody, both habitual front-running types.

Rounding out the field are Leamington, Zee Zee, Namaste's Wish, and Stealin' Kisses.