10/24/2014 11:38AM

Romans well stocked for Stars of Tomorrow card

Michael Burns
Conquest Tsunami, the winner of the Colin Stakes, will try to make a splash on the Stars of Tomorrow card Sunday, opening day for Churchill's fall meet.

Even the most vocal critics might concede that Churchill Downs has some pretty neat traditions, not even counting the Kentucky Derby, one of the greatest in all of sports.

One tradition that began in 2005 is the Stars of Tomorrow program for 2-year-olds, which continues to thrive at every fall meet, as evidenced by what’s in store for the Sunday opening of the 26-day fall meet at the Louisville, Ky., track.

Fields rife with potential stars comprise the entire 10-race opener, including the $58,000 Street Sense and Rags to Riches stakes. The ungraded, one-turn-mile co-features are supported by two allowances and six maiden special weight events, all with richly pedigreed juveniles from reputable stables. In the nine preceding years, eventual standouts such as Rachel Alexandra, Shackleford, and Will Take Charge have taken part in the Stars of Tomorrow program.

Dale Romans has runners in seven of the 10 Sunday races, more than any other trainer.

“These are really fun days,” said Romans. “Sometimes you end up looking back on them and say, ‘That’s where it all got started.’ ”

One of Romans’s 2-year-olds is a colt named Thirtysevenliveson in the second race. He was produced by Mining My Own, the dam of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and of Dullahan, a top 3-year-old of 2012 for Romans.

“[Thirtysevenliveson] is taking his time coming around, but I do think he’ll get better with distance,” said Romans.

Purses at the fall meet are projected to average about $370,000 per day, according to racing secretary Ben Huffman. As usual, a back-loaded meet concludes with a Thanksgiving week schedule highlighted Nov. 28 by the Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap, which once again could wind up being a decisive race in divisional championships.

The final weekend (Nov. 27-30) also will include a second Stars of Tomorrow card (Nov. 29), led by the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, as well as a futures pool toward the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

One Downs After Dark program with a James Bond theme is scheduled to be run under the lights Nov. 14.

The cast of participating horsemen is a familiar one, with Rosie Napravnik, Corey Lanerie, Shaun Bridgmohan, and Ricardo Santana Jr. among the jockeys who ride here Sunday and throughout the meet.

Larry Collmus will call opening day, then Mike Battaglia, the regular race caller at Churchill from 1978 to 1996, will call the next five days of the meet (through Nov. 2) until Collmus returns from his work at the Breeders’ Cup. This will be the last Churchill meet for Collmus, who is moving to the New York Racing Association in April.

The weather for Sunday couldn’t be any better, with sunny skies and a high of 74 in the forecast. First post most days, including Sunday, is 12:40 p.m. Eastern, although there are several exceptions as the meet unfolds.

The Sunday opener will include a brief between-races tribute to Juan Saez, the 17-year-old apprentice who started his American riding career at Churchill in June. Saez died Oct. 14 from injuries suffered in a spill at Indiana Grand.

Street Sense (race 4)

Key contenders

Far Right (Last 3 Beyers: 83-85-72)

Privately purchased colt owns the two highest Beyer Speed Figures in the lineup and is back from New York, where he met a solid group in the Grade 2 Futurity. Surely will be a major pace player on this stretch-out.

Nun the Less (Last 3 Beyers: 73-75-70)

Victory as a lukewarm favorite for his standout Chicago stable in an off-the-turf allowance on opening day at Keeneland points out his versatility and potential.

Conquest Tsunami (Last 3 Beyers: 67-76-76)

Mark Casse colt went unbeaten on turf and Polytrack before taking a real drubbing in a Grade 1 race in his first try on dirt, so obviously, he must demonstrate his ability on this surface to be considered viable.

Rags to Riches (race 9)

Key contenders

Tiz Sexy Now (Last 2 Beyers: 62-56)

* Tiznow filly was a dominant maiden winner as part of an unforgettable Keeneland meet for Chicago-based trainer Ingrid Mason, who through Friday was 5 for 13 in her first serious Kentucky foray.

Streetheart (Last Beyer: 69)

Had to settle for a dead heat for the win in her lone attempt, but she came very highly touted in that September triumph from the No. 1 hole and now stands to improve with two more workouts under her.

Hopefaithjoy (Last 2 Beyers: 72-71)

Filly representing the they’re-everywhere Todd Pletcher barn was prompt as a favorite in stretching out on opening weekend at Keeneland and comes favorably drawn in the outside post here.