05/11/2010 12:00AM

Lots of options for Keertana's next


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In winning Sunday's featured third race at Churchill Downs, a $58,800 money allowance on grass, Keertana earned herself a stakes engagement. It just remains to be seen where that engagement will come.

Trainer Tom Proctor said Tuesday he is leaning toward bringing Keertana back in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill on June 5, although other more lucrative options also are under consideration. Also that day, on the Belmont Stakes undercard, is the Grade 1 Just a Game Handicap, and that same afternoon in Canada at Woodbine is the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes.

The Mint Julep carries a purse of just $100,000, while the Just a Game and Nassau are run for $400,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Proctor said one consideration will be what weight Keertana is assigned for the Mint Julep.

Keertana, a 4-year-old daughter of Johar owned by Barbara Hunter, had no trouble carrying high weight of 125 pounds in winning Sunday, spotting her opponents four pounds apiece. She won by 4 1/4 lengths under Garrett Gomez, racing 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:42.03, earning a 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

The win marked her second victory in as many starts in 2010, following a narrow allowance triumph in her seasonal bow at Keeneland on April 11.

Last year, she won two stakes races, including the Grade 3 Regret over the Churchill Downs grass course.

Proctor said the key to her success this year was listening to her needs by giving her the winter off and not overracing her.

"Females, you ask; boys, you tell," he said. "That's a general statement, but a lot of truth in it, in horses and in people."

Ford saddles two, wins two

Trainer Bill Ford fired off a third of his stable at Churchill Down last weekend, and hit bullseyes - with all the two of them.

Ford, 55, who has a modest six-horse stable at Churchill Downs's offsite training facility, Trackside, won a $5,000 claimer Saturday with veteran Flatter Me Rose and then followed it up a day later with a first-out victory from Wealth to Me in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race.

Wealth to Me, a 3-year-old Tapit colt, impressively circled the field five wide to take command and narrowly edged heavily favored Raven Hawk by a nose. He raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:45, and after surviving a claim of foul for bumping with the runner-up paid $41.

Both horses are owned by Billy Mondun.

The claiming win was nothing new for Ford and Mondun, who typically contend with such types at Churchill. But to have a talented young horse like Wealth to Me is out of the norm for the small stable.

"I knew he could run, but you never know until you run them," Ford said.

Ford said they had already received a couple offers to purchase the colt, which Mondun and his wife, Vickie, bred.

"He's out of their only mare," Ford said.

Ford said he intends to bring Wealth to Me back in a first-level allowance.

Euroears skipping Aristides

Multiple stakes winner Euroears, a close second to Mythical Power in the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star on April 24, worked a half-mile at Churchill on Tuesday morning over a wet-fast track in 48 seconds in preparation for what will likely be an out-of-town start.

Among the races under consideration are the May 31 Lone Star Handicap, a Grade 3, $300,000 race on May 31 at 1 1/16 miles, and the $60,000 Prairie Express Stakes at Prairie Meadows on May 22.

"We're not gonna run in the Aristides," trainer Bret Calhoun said, referring the top remaining sprint race of the meet for older horses which is run May 29.

Calhoun said he chose to have Euroears train at Churchill this spring because the location gives him more stakes options. Had he kept him with a string he has at Lone Star, "it's a long ways to everywhere," he said.

* Cool Bullet is the expected favorite for Saturday's $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds on a card that includes a simulcast of the Preakness Stakes from Baltimore. A short field is expected to be drawn when entries are taken Wednesday.