Updated on 09/15/2011 2:12PM

Perryville a drop for Hero's Tribute

Bill Denver/EquiPhotos
Hero's Tribute has lost five of his last six starts but figures to be a strong favorite against four other 3-year-olds in the Perryville.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - At this time last year, trainer John T. Ward Jr. was able to look into the stalls of some of his 2-year-olds and feel good about his chances of winning the 2001 Kentucky Derby. With Holiday Thunder and Hero's Tribute, Ward had two of the most promising colts not only at Keeneland, but in North America as well.

Ward was in the right church, but the wrong pew. He won the 127th Derby in May all right - but he did it with Monarchos, who last October was still several months from winning so much as a maiden race.

In the meantime, Holiday Thunder and Hero's Tribute have not panned out as well as Ward and owner John C. Oxley thought they would. Holiday Thunder has lost seven straight races, finishing a distant second to Rock Slide in an entry-level allowance race here Sunday. And Hero's Tribute, although a winner of two races this year, including a spectacular victory in the Peter Pan in May, has lost five of his last six starts.

On Thursday, Hero's Tribute should be able to get back on the winning track when strongly favored in the $75,000 Perryville Stakes. Only four other 3-year-olds will oppose him in the Perryville, which is the easiest spot he has seen in quite a while. The Perryville, run at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet, will be the first time since Feb. 17 that Hero's Tribute has not run in a graded stakes. He won a second-level allowance that day at Gulfstream, beating runner-up Dream Run by four lengths.

Dream Run, a consistent colt owned by Jack Murphy and to be ridden by Pat Day, returns Thursday as clearly the top challenger to Hero's Tribute. The other starters are Solingen, Strawberry Affair, and Tampa.

The Perryville, named for the small Kentucky town that was the scene of a major Civil War battle in 1862, is the eighth of nine Thursday races.

Field comes together for Q.E. II

As many as 10 fillies are expected to run Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, the invitation-only race for 3-year-old fillies.

The probable field for the 1 1/8-mile turf race is Affluent, Casual Feat, Golden Apples, Ing Ing, Light Dancer, Live Your Dream, Reine de Romance, Snow Dance, Sweetest Thing, and Voodoo Dancer.

Other upcoming stakes are the $75,000 Warfield on Friday, the $75,000 Franklin on the Saturday undercard, and the $100,000 Dowager on Sunday.

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