05/11/2012 4:39PM

Mid-South notes: Leggio branches out with Churchill Downs string

Barbara D. Livingston
St. John's River is part of trainer Andrew Leggio's Churchill Downs string.

Andrew Leggio is branching out at the age of 78.

The trainer of St. John’s River, who was second in the Grade 2 La Troienne earlier this month at Churchill Downs, has found himself with divisions of horses at three different tracks this spring. Leggio has 18 head at his usual base, Louisiana Downs near Shreveport, another 10 at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La., and five at Churchill Downs.

“It’s a little different this year,” Leggio said. “I usually have in the neighborhood of 20 horses. It’s just the way things happened this year, and we’re just going with the flow.”

St. John’s River is based at Churchill, awaiting her next start, which Leggio said will come in the track’s Grade 2, $150,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on June 16. The trainer won the Fleur de Lis in 2006 with Happy Ticket, and earlier this month, Leggio sent out Happy Ticket’s son Mr. Ticket to win a maiden special weight at Churchill.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been stabled at Churchill with any horses,” said Leggio, a Fair Grounds and Louisiana Downs mainstay. “It’s something new for me.”

Leggio’s growing stable is coming off a strong 2011, a year in which he won 23 races from 123 starters for stable earnings of $1,035,810. It was his most wins since he went 31 for 157 in 2007, and his highest level of stable earnings since the barn churned out $1,540,577 in 2006.

St. John’s River was the runner-up in last year’s Kentucky Oaks and also won the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks. She races for Dede McGehee. Mr. Ticket is owned by Stewart Madison, who also raced Happy Ticket, a Grade 1 winner who was bred in Louisiana.

New home for Aces N Kings

Aces N Kings, who earned his teaser-stallion sire, Jet Phone, a shot at a commercial career after winning his first five starts, has changed hands. The horse, who was bred, owned, and trained by Ed and Caroline Dodwell, was sold privately last month to Bill Cunningham. Aces N Kings is now based at Louisiana Downs with trainer Tony Richey.

Aces N Kings, a 4-year-old gelding who was bred in Texas, opened his career in 2010 with five straight wins between April and August. His streak included three stakes scores, among them the Sunny’s Halo and Minstrel at Louisiana Downs and the colts and geldings division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park.

Richey said the horse is being pointed to an allowance at Lone Star on Saturday, May 19, with his summer objective being a start in the $50,000 Assault Stakes. The Assault is a one-mile race is for 3-year-olds and up bred in Texas and will be run at Lone Star on July 7.

Richey said Aces N Kings’s versatility was appealing. The horse has won sprinting and at two turns as well as on dirt and turf. To date, he has won 6 of 18 starts and $233,871.

Caroline Dodwell said her family sold Aces N Kings because their operation primarily focuses on 2- and 3-year-olds.

“Young horses are really our thing,” she said.

Dodwell said that even in her career as a teacher, she was most interested in early childhood development, having been certified specifically to teach kindergarten.

“I’ve always liked getting things started and handing things off,” she said.

◗ Ms Katylin Dreams, a Quarter Horse out of Hallowed Dreams, won a training race Tuesday at Ruidoso Downs. Her time of 15.86 seconds was the fastest 300-yard time during the 13 training races, according to a press release issued by the track. Ms Katylin Dreams is by Carters Cartel, and she is owned by J&L Racing and Farm and trained by Roberto Sanchez. Hallowed Dreams won the first 16 races of her career, all in Louisiana.

◗ Jockey Glen Murphy is scheduled to resume riding at Lone Star on Thursday, said his agent, Kevin Johnson. The rider has been sidelined with a break to his third metacarpal bone in his right hand. Murphy was injured during training hours. He has been rehabbing at home in Oklahoma.

◗ Lone Star will have its traditional Mother’s Day diamond dig on the track following the races Sunday. The first 500 women through the gates get a chance to dig for a solitaire worth $2,500.

◗ Sam Houston, which is racing Quarter Horses, is putting on a special Sunday afternoon card for Mother’s Day. The track also announced that when the meet ends May 19, it will begin offering free admission to simulcast racing, from May 20 through Labor Day.