06/03/2010 11:00PM

Macho Again tunes up for Foster defense


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Macho Again had his final workout in preparation of his defense of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap when he breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 with regular rider Robby Albarado aboard Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Macho Again is one of at least six older horses expected to run next Saturday, June 12, in the $600,000 Foster.

Macho Again rallied to win the 2009 Foster last June before being beaten a head by Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward two races later. Since then, the Dallas Stewart-trained gray has been in mediocre form, having finished a dull seventh in his lone start at 5, the Alysheba at Churchill on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks undercard.

"I'm sure he needed that race," Stewart said. "The pace was slow, and after he ran up there to them, he got pretty tired. We're hoping he'll benefit from the race and run a lot better next weekend."

Blame, scheduled to work Sunday at Keeneland, is the likely favorite for the 1 1/8-mile Foster, unless Rachel Alexandra runs. The connections of the 2009 Horse of the Year have said they intend to run her next Saturday in one of four possible spots, but the Foster seems a remote possibility.

Other likely starters for the Foster are Arson Squad, Battle Plan, General Quarters, and Giant Oak. In addition, trainer David Fawkes has informed Churchill officials he likely would send Duke of Mischief from Florida if Rachel Alexandra is not in the race. Weight assignments were to be released Saturday.

The Foster is the centerpiece of a Saturday card that also will feature four other graded races, including the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap, a filly-mare race that is one of the possible races for Rachel Alexandra.

Possible prep for Mine That Bird

Now that D. Wayne Lukas has zeroed in on the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga as his main immediate goal for 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, the Hall of Fame trainer is looking for a possible prep race for the 4-year-old gelding.

"I don't necessarily have to run him anywhere before the Whitney, because he's not short on seasoning, but ideally, a prep race would be nice," Lukas said.

The final condition book for the Churchill spring meet reveals what appears to be a perfect comeback spot: the eighth race on July 3, a $58,800 classified allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Lukas, who took over the training of Mine That Bird last month, said he would consider that race "if I think he's fit enough by then. Otherwise, we'd probably be taking a look at something a little after then at Belmont Park."

Mine That Bird, unraced since November, has had two workouts at Churchill since arriving here May 20. Lukas said he has been extremely impressed with the gelding, who worked on Wednesday.

"He didn't even break a sweat under the saddlepad in that last work," Lukas said. "One thing I've really noticed is his tremendous lung capacity."

Memorial service held for valet

A memorial service was held Friday morning at Churchill in honor of valet Matty Brown, who died of an apparent heart attack at his Louisville home Tuesday night.

Brown, 78, was very well known and liked as the indisputable dean of the jockeys' rooms at Churchill and Keeneland, having worked both tracks for decades. He also worked in Florida and elsewhere during a lifetime of serving in various capacities on the racetrack.

"Matty loved to talk about how he was the exercise rider for Dark Star," who dealt the great Native Dancer his only career defeat in the 1953 Derby, fellow valet Shane Borel said.

Brown is survived by a daughter, Vickie, and longtime companion Debbie Miller. Memorial contributions can be made in his name to the Jockeys' Guild.

* Trinity Run, the Maggi Moss-owned colt who was scratched three times at Churchill last month because of confusion over his eligibility for certain conditions due to an administrative problem, finally will get to race. The gray colt was listed as "main track only" for the 11th race, a turf race, here Friday evening, and if he had to scratch again, he surely will get to run Sunday in the fourth race.

* Keeneland already is warning out-of-towners who plan on attending the September sales that the World Equestrian Games will be going on at the same time in Lexington and that hotel space in the region could be extremely tight. Keeneland is reserving blocks of rooms in some hotels. More information is available on the track website, keeneland.com, or by calling the sales department at (859) 254-3412.

* A Texas hold 'em poker tournament to benefit a memorial scholarship fund in the name of trainer William "Blackie" Huffman is set for June 15 at 6 p.m. Eastern in the Triple Crown Ballroom at Churchill. The event is being sponsored by Churchill and two horsemen's organizations. Buy-in is $125, with $7,500 to the winner if all 250 spots are filled. More information is available at (502) 363-1077 or (502) 636-4830.