07/14/2010 5:38PM

Macho Again headed out of racing

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Macho Again, a Grade 1 winner who fell a head short of defeating Rachel Alexandra in an epic running of the Woodward Stakes last September, is in the process of being sold and retired from racing.

Terry Finley, president of the horse’s ownership group, West Point Thoroughbreds, said Wednesday morning that a deal with “a large stud farm in Venezuela” had nearly been consummated, with only minor details still to be worked out.

“We have an agreement in principle, and unless something unforeseen happens, the horse will be sold,” said Finley.

Macho Again, a gray 5-year-old by Macho Uno, won six races, including four stakes, from 24 career starts, for earnings of $1,825,767. His biggest wins came in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap and Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at 4, and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and the Derby Trial at 3. His most memorable race, however, came in the Woodward at Saratoga, when he was gaining steadily on Rachel Alexandra before narrowly missing.

“We’re all very proud of what ‘Macho’ accomplished in his racing career, and we’re very gratified he’ll have a great shot to be a successful sire in Venezuela,” said Finley.

Finley said Macho Again currently is at Churchill Downs, where he has been stabled for the last several months with Dallas Stewart, who trained him throughout his career. The horse had gone off form in recent months and finished 10th of 11 in his last race, the June 12 Stephen Foster at Churchill. “He’ll leave from there once we complete the deal,” he said.

Cowboy rides yet again

When R.A. “Cowboy” Jones breaks from the Ellis Park starting gate aboard Magic de Naskra in the third race Friday, it will mark the seventh decade in which he has ridden.

Jones, 67, began his riding career in the 1950s, with his first mount coming in 1959, and after riding in every decade since then, he will tack on the 2010’s with a mount Friday.

“As old as you might get, you still get excited about riding a race,” Jones said Wednesday from his home in Henderson, Ky., where Ellis is located. “I still enjoy competing with these nice boys and girls.”

Jones, who works primarily as an exercise rider, last rode competitively on Oct. 3 at Turfway Park. He had four mounts in 2009, four in 2008, and one in 2005, having suffered various injuries during those fill-in spans. His last victory came in September 2004 at Turfway.

Jones is a three-time leading rider (1963, ’66, ’72) at Ellis. Over the years, he estimates he has broken a bone 75 times and that he has lost 40,000 pounds in the sweatbox.

Ellis Park’s chief steward, John Veitch, said Wednesday he expects Jones to be approved for a jockey’s license, provided he has no infirmities that might prove dangerous for himself or his fellow riders.

First stakes on tap

The first stakes of the 27-day Ellis meet comes Saturday with the $50,000 Don Bernhardt, a six-furlong race for older horses. Among the 27 nominees are Golden Country, winner of the Holiday Cheer last winter at Turfway, and Ready’s Rocket, who came to peak form in the starter-allowance ranks at the recently ended Churchill meet. Entries were to be taken Thursday on the 48-hour draw schedule being employed for Saturday and Sunday cards at Ellis.

Just four stakes will be run at the meet, with the Grade 3, $100,000 Gardenia on Aug. 14 being the most notable.

◗ The Friday feature at Ellis is the eighth of nine races, a $31,500, first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies. As with most races so far at the Ellis meet, which began last Saturday, the field is big: 13, including one also-eligible. Brickyard Helen and Miss Rebound look like the favorites. First post is 12:50 p.m. Central.

◗ Apprentice riders accounted for four straight victories on the Saturday opener. Oriana Rossi won the second race on Thundering Jill and the fourth on Conservative Value, and Ben Creed won the third on Heavenly Appeal and the fifth on Theres Always Hope.

◗ “The Kentucky Winner’s Circle” radio show in Louisville is moving to WKRD (790 AM) effective Saturday, according to E.J. Clark, who co-hosts the weekly show with Lane Gold. The 11 a.m. Eastern program will directly follow “Down The Stretch,” another one-hour racing show on the same station.

Clark said live streaming of his show will soon be available at 790wkrd.com.